Healthcare Technology Featured Article

January 12, 2017

AI is a Gold Mine for Healthcare

Artificial intelligence (AI) is often portrayed with sinister undertones in futuristic sci-fi stories. Having a “fear of machines” is a common theme for characters appearing in these tales, and this fear appears to have transferred into the real world, adding to the paranoia of the general public. However, are these concerns grounded? Not exactly, according to Stanford University.

Stanford recently launched a 100-year study on the effects of artificial intelligence. It has dubbed the project “One Hundred Year Study on Artificial Intelligence” and has kicked it off by releasing a report entitled “Artificial Intelligence and Life in 2030.” The report looks at the advancements in AI, and the effects it will have 10 years from now on a typical North American city.

Unlike the wild predictions of AI found in popular culture, the study predicts that AI will have positive impacts on the economy and society. As you will see, it is a gold mine for healthcare.

How Does AI Improve Healthcare?
AI has the potential to improve the quality of life and health of millions of people with its application in healthcare. The three main areas of improvement are the diagnosis and delivery of healthcare, development of new treatments, and reducing the administration cost of healthcare.

It does this by providing support for clinical decisions, patient coaching and monitoring, managing healthcare systems, and assisting with patient care and surgery with automated devices.

Let’s take a closer look at each one.

Diagnosis and Delivery of Healthcare
AI has helped the diagnosis of patients and delivery of healthcare by mining health data to identify possible risks, predicting patients at risk by using machine learning, and supporting surgical procedures using robotics. Specific examples include:

  • Reducing medical errors
  • Supporting the diagnosis of mental disorders
  • Diagnosing mental illness and depression through social media data
  • Speeding up the time from diagnosing patients to treating them

Development of New Treatments and Drugs
The development of new treatments and drugs has been supported by AI applications in the following ways:

  • Improving diagnosis by digitizing health records and all previous medical knowledge
  • Developing more effective cancer treatments
  • Providing support with the development of an artificial pancreas
  • Reducing the cost of discovering drugs by up to 70 percent

AI and Healthcare Administration Costs
According to the American Medical Association’s “National Health Insurer Report Card,” over $12 billion a year could be saved by automating the administration of claims. The AMA found that unnecessary administrative tasks, avoidable errors, waste, and inefficiency contributed to this cost.

Due to the sophisticated terminology involved with medical transcription, accurately transcribing records can be difficult and costly due to human error. While online medical transcription courses do alleviate this problem somewhat, intelligent AI may be a more cost effective and efficient solution for healthcare companies. By using AI to identify and correct errors, healthcare companies can save money on claims made by billing errors.

Big Data is the Key to Unlocking AI’s Potential
The key to all of AI’s benefits is access to data, whether it is collected from mobile apps, monitoring devices, electronic health records, or data drawn from robotic devices used during surgery. This data provides the user with highly detailed diagnostics and specific treatments for either an individual patient or a group of patients.

However, drawing this data for use brings up a number of challenges.

Challenges with Implementing AI in Healthcare
As explained earlier, the benefits of AI in healthcare have been well documented, however, there are still roadblocks with its successful implementation. For AI to be widely adopted and implemented, it requires the trust of medical professionals, as well as having the regulatory and commercial roadblocks removed.

The Stanford study identified five challenges related to AI in Healthcare:

  1. Outdated regulations and incentives have slowed down research and implementation of AI
  2. Human-to-computer interaction methods are poor
  3. There are risks of implementing technology in large complex systems
  4. Issues exist with integrating automated reasoning with human care
  5. There is no widely accepted standard for privacy protection

AI is a gold mine for healthcare and has the potential to improve the health of millions of people. By using big data, AI is able to help improve the diagnosis and delivery of healthcare, support the development of new drugs and treatments, and lower healthcare administration costs for both medical professionals and patients.

Overcoming challenges from policymakers and regulators may take time, but once achieved will help with the rapid implementation of AI in healthcare.

Edited by Alicia Young
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By Special Guest
Rick Delgado, Content Writer ,


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