Artificial intelligence is poised to revolutionize various industries including medicine. Combined with machine learning, AI helps create sustainable healthcare systems that provide more successful solutions to a variety of diseases.
AI-enabled machines are best known for their ability to accomplish tasks typically performed by humans, but in less time and at lower costs. Research shows that by 2026, AI technologies are expected to create $150 billion in annual savings for the U.S. healthcare economy. When developed correctly, it can bring massive improvements in cost, quality, and access to care.
With its boundless potential to transform healthcare, it’s no secret that AI has been seeing an explosive boost in investment. The same study predicts that by 2021, growth in the AI health market is bound to reach $6.6 billion.
The beauty of AI lies in its versatility. It can take over a range of tasks from data storage to interpretation. Below, we list down some trending AI applications that have been transforming the lives of clinicians, patients, and hospital staff around the world.
Wearable health and fitness trackers
Wearable health trackers collect crucial patient data including heart rate, vital signs, sleep patterns, and physical activity. AI enables these trackers to transmit the data to medical providers, allowing continuous patient monitoring and reduced hospital visits.
These wearables do not only track the data, but uses it to create a personalized health plan for the user. This can include the type of food and physical activity appropriate to the user’s health.
Similarly, there has been an influx of AI-enabled mobile apps that can monitor a patient’s medication. These apps can send alerts to the user to take medication doses on time. At the same time, they can notify doctors if patients are not adhering to the prescribed medications and intake schedules.
AI-powered robots have brought valuable potential in the field of surgery. They assist doctors in performing microsurgical procedures with more precision and control than with traditional techniques. Robots are typically used in minimally invasive surgery, or operations performed through micro-incisions. Compared to conventional open surgeries, minimal incisions come with shorter recovery time and less physical trauma. This means patients can save on hefty costs of inpatient hospital stays and can resume normal activities quickly.
Robotic surgery has already been adopted by many hospitals in Europe and the U.S. They have been used to treat a range of conditions including heart disease, lung cancer, and different types of tumors.
In robot-assisted surgery, multiple robotic arms are inserted into the patient through tiny incisions. One arm features a camera while the rest are attached with surgical instruments, acting as the surgeon’s hands. The surgeon controls all arms using a nearby console that shows a high-definition, 3D view of the surgical site. With this setup, surgeons can deliver accurate results even on the most complex procedures.
Electronic health records
In the healthcare industry, administrative duties take up significant costs and working hours. Medical staff often spend a huge chunk of their workday collecting patient data and processing forms. To this day, many hospitals still use traditional, paper-based methods to collect crucial patient information. These methods not only require more time, but also pose higher risk of errors that can endanger a patient’s life.
AI, in the form of electronic health records or EHR, has been widely used in data management. EHRs are designed to collect, store, and track data for quicker access and efficiency. They eliminate human errors and ensure safer patient care. Because information is stored in a single cloud, EHRs reduce the risk of lost or misplaced patient files, while auto correcting errors that may result from transcription.
Apart from streamlining routine tasks, EHRs can reduce paperwork and increase storage space. As offices become less cluttered, efficiency rises and medical providers can enjoy more time for direct patient care.
When a patient requires the care of multiple doctors, tracking his or her medical history, from allergies to blood types and past diagnosis, can be challenging especially when everything is recorded on paper charts. Digitizing patient records enhances communication between physicians and enables them to come up with an accurate diagnosis more quickly. The use of EHRs also allows different care providers to simultaneously view a patient’s record at any given time. It can also provide real-time updates on test results and physician recommendations, allowing continuous patient care.
EHRs also ensure that critical laboratory results are handed to physicians in a timely manner. They can be programmed to send alerts once lab or radiology results have been uploaded, reducing duplicate tests and improving clinical outcomes.
AI is reinventing healthcare through high-performing machines that can analyze, predict, and perform. These technological advances have saved countless lives and are only getting smarter and more efficient every year. Whether it’s used to enhance internal workflows or perform complex surgeries, healthcare providers must start adopting AI-enabled tools to stay competitive and improve the overall quality of patient care.