AI and Healthcare:
Where We Are and Where We're Headed
AI has insinuated its way into the healthcare industry, perhaps without realizing it as well. In fact, Health IT Analytics predicted that “Artificial intelligence is poised to become a transformational force in healthcare,” affecting both providers and patients in profound ways. Everything from radiology, surgery and improving population health to creating a more intuitive interface in the use of the EHR, or Electronic Health Record, is on the table when it comes to incorporating AI into the healthcare continuum.
What is Artificial Intelligence, or AI, and How Does It Impact Everyday Life?
Artificial intelligence, or AI, is different from the natural intelligence inherent in human beings and animals. It is constructed by men to make machines function more effectively and efficiently. These machines mimic certain functions of the human brain such as analysis, learning and problem-solving.
AI can be used in many industries and is encountered in numerous ways on a personal basis. Spam filters, fitness trackers, ride-sharing apps, language translators, online shopping or entertainment suggestions, pesky plagiarism checkers, and helpful assistants like Siri or Alexa are all examples of how AI is beginning to invade our lives, with or without our explicit knowledge and acceptance.
Even as an intense debate about the future of AI is being waged, there is no doubt that more and more of it is being incorporated into diverse aspects of our lives. Today’s narrow applications are sure to spread as the science behind the systems becomes exponentially more advanced. The timeframe for wide-spread implementation, if at all, is still unknown, but it behooves those of us in the healthcare world to be aware of its uses, benefits, applications and limitations.
Applications for Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare
For the healthcare industry, AI could prove to be a game-changer for everyone from the top pharmaceutical companies and hospital chains to the local medical practice. Virtually every aspect of the medical industry can be impacted by artificial intelligence, from robot-assisted surgeries to enhanced EHR performance.
In the research and development end of the medical arena, AI helps to find clinical trial participants and speeds up the development of potentially lifesaving medications. When looked at in the light of continued pressure from the federal government and insurance companies to provide better-managed healthcare and improved population health at lower costs, AI can be of tremendous benefit in streamlining processes and closing healthcare gaps.
Here are some exciting examples of how artificial intelligence is being incorporated into the healthcare field on a rapidly increasing basis:
- Streamlining drug discoveries
- Machine learning for better diagnoses and faster treatment
- Proactive healthcare management
- Better emergency room pre-screening