How AI Is Changing Healthcare for the Better

Angus Roberts

Artificial Intelligence is changing the world as we know it. Even those who doubted it and wrote it off as hype are most likely using an AI product or service knowingly or unknowingly. That we can now discuss AI in healthcare, an industry tied to the well being of human beings, is perhaps the most legit validation of the remarkable inroads AI is making into our lives. No longer fiction or hype, AI has slowly but surely made waves in a number of different industries, and healthcare is among the top. 

And so if you run an organization in the healthcare industry, here is to an awakening discovery of what AI means for healthcare and what to expect in future. 

First, two valuable definitions;

What is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial intelligence is the term used to refer to the use of machines or software to perform human tasks, including making decisions. Common AI  technologies include machine learning, natural language processing, and computer vision. 

Data plays a central role in artificial intelligence as every task or decision is executed based on data. AI has been a hot topic in the news and in science fiction for years, but is now taking shape. 

What is AI in Healthcare? 

Artificial intelligence in healthcare refers to computer systems that can learn and make important medical decisions on their own. These systems can analyze large amounts of clinical data to find trends and patterns, then recommend treatments or strategies. 

How is AI used in Healthcare? Some of the earliest applications of AI in healthcare were in diagnostics. But today the field has grown deep and wide. 

Here is just a glance at the top examples of AI in healthcare, which we’ll also cover in more exciting ways shortly.

  1. Machine learning is being used to develop better and more personalized treatments for cancer.
  2. Virtual nursing assistants are helping doctors with workflow, including everything from scheduling appointments to providing medical information to patients.
  3. Natural language processing is being used to help clinicians make better decisions by understanding and extracting information from Electronic Health Records.
  4. Robotic surgery is becoming increasingly commonplace, and AI is playing a role in making these procedures safer and more effective.
  5. AI-enabled wearables are starting to be used for aspects like detecting

What are the Benefits of AI in Healthcare?

The benefits of AI healthcare can be divided into two categories: medical benefits and operational benefits. 

Medical benefits of ai in healthcare

As the terms suggest, medical benefits are those that are directly related to the core aspects of healthcare particularly diagnosis, treatment and prevention. 

Below are the outstanding medical benefits of  AI healthcare across these three areas;

1. Healthcare AI improves diagnosis

AI can improve diagnosis by analyzing data from medical images and patient records. This helps to identify health risks and potential problems earlier, which can lead to more effective treatment. In some cases, AI diagnosis has proven to be faster and more accurate than human doctors.

Here are some of the ways healthcare ai is being utilized to improve diagnosis. 

AI-powered cancer diagnosis

Artificial intelligence is being used to speed up the process of cancer diagnosis by automatically detecting and classifying tumors in images. This is accomplished through the use of machine learning algorithms. These algorithms can be used to analyze medical images, such as X-rays and scans, in order to identify any potential signs of cancer. 

This means that more patients can be diagnosed early, which can lead to better treatment outcomes. For example,  a deep learning model improved the performance of radiologists in detecting breast lesions.

IBM’s Watson for Health is one of the best examples of AI in healthcare diagnosis programs. It uses machine learning to help providers diagnose diseases like cancer by analyzing patient data.

Watson is able to do this by scanning and analyzing a patient’s medical records, as well as information from medical journals and textbooks. This helps doctors make more informed decisions about treatment options for their patients.  

Chatbots listening to symptoms

When you’re feeling sick you normally visit a doctor and after a few questions, your doctor may prescribe medication or refer you to a specialist. 

What if there was a way for your doctor to get help from a machine? That’s the idea behind chatbot-assisted diagnosis in ai and healthcare. Healthcare providers are now starting to use them to help with diagnoses. 

How do they work? Chatbots listen to symptoms and make a diagnosis based on information from medical texts and databases. They can also provide information on side effects. 

As it’s still in the early days, there are some limitations to chatbot-assisted diagnosis. For example, chatbots currently can’t discern between two diseases that share the same symptoms. However, they are still a valuable tool for healthcare providers, and their use is expected to grow in the coming years. 

Some of the diseases that can already be accurately diagnosed using AI include cancer, parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and stroke. 

2. AI  healthcare improves patient care/treatment

AI technology in healthcare is making it possible to provide personalized care for each patient. It can also monitor patients’ conditions and provide feedback on how they are responding to treatment.

Here are leading examples of how is ai used in healthcare to deliver the benefit of improved treatment; 

Robots aiding surgeons

AI-driven robots are being used to assist doctors in surgeries and choose the best treatment plans for patients. For example, robotic surgery was used successfully to remove a tumor from a patient’s kidney. In another case, a robot performed successful surgery on a pig’s tissue. 

The use of robots helps to speed up the surgery process and also makes it less invasive for the patient. Additionally, the robot can be adjusted according to the surgeon’s needs, which allows for a greater level of precision and accuracy. 

Personalized treatments

AI can help to personalize treatments for patients, based on their specific medical history and conditions.

By analyzing a patient’s medical data, AI can develop a plan that is specific to that person’s needs and is more likely to be effective than a generalized plan.

As part of the personalized treatment, doctors can also deploy AI to monitor patients and track their progress. This allows doctors and other healthcare professionals to have a more complete picture of the patient’s health and makes it easier to identify any changes or problems.

Enhanced research for new treatments

AI is also finding valuable use in discovering new treatments for diseases. For example, scientists at Stanford University are using AI to develop new treatments for cancer. 

By using machine learning, they are able to analyze large amounts of data and identify patterns that would be impossible for humans to see. This information can then be used to develop new drugs and treatments that could help save lives. 

3. AI for prevent healthcare

Artificial Intelligence in healthcare is being used in a number of beneficial ways to prevent health conditions from developing or advancing. This is achieved through analyzing large data sets in order to identify patterns or trends that could lead to the development of preventive measures.  

Here are emerging use cases of ai applications in healthcare that are focused on prevention;

Consumer wearables for early detection

Wearables are a great way to collect data about one’s health. Combine that with AI, and you have a powerful tool for early detection and prevention of health conditions. AI can take all of the data from one’s wearable and analyze it for patterns that might indicate the early stages of a disease. 

This is a huge boon for healthcare, as early detection is key to preventing many diseases from advancing to threatening levels. With AI in the mix, we’re well on our way to preventing many health conditions. 

Predictive AI keeps the doctor away 

One of the most exciting applications for AI in healthcare is its ability to help people stay healthy and out of the doctor’s office. 

This can be achieved by using data from various sources to to predict outbreaks of common diseases such. This information can then be used by doctors to help them prepare for an influx of patients and prevent the spread of the disease. 

Operational benefits of ai in healthcare

Operational benefits are those that are non-medical and collectively support the day to day activities of healthcare provision. 

Here are the top 5;

1. Increased efficiency

AI for healthcare can help healthcare professionals to manage their workloads more effectively. This is possible through automation of tasks such as prescribing drugs or ordering tests, which helps to reduce the time spent on administrative items.

2. Cost reduction

One of the main issues with healthcare is the cost. Many people can’t afford to see a doctor or to get the medication they need. AI can reduce these costs by automating certain core aspects of healthcare, such as diagnosis and treatment. 

And as AI can also streamline administrative tasks, this can lead to significant cost savings for hospitals and clinics.

3. Supply chain management

AI is being used to simplify  supply chain management in healthcare. One way is by optimizing and streamlining the inventory process. This ensures that medical supplies are always available when needed, while also reducing waste and duplicate orders. Additionally, AI can be used to predict demand for certain items, meaning that providers can order what they need in advance to avoid stock outs.

Another way that AI is being used for healthcare supply management is by helping to track and monitor medical supplies. This information can be used to improve forecast accuracy, choose new suppliers based on cost, quality, and more. Additionally, this data can help identify trends in healthcare spending and usage patterns. 

4. Claims and denials management

Healthcare providers are using AI for denials and claims management to reduce the cost of claim denials. Automated eligibility checks are used to determine a patient’s insurance coverage and pre-authorization status, while AI is also used to identify potential errors in claims before they’re processed.

Incorrect or incomplete information can lead to a denial, so using AI for claims management can help to ensure that all of the necessary information is included on each claim. This can avoid costly delays in processing and reimbursement.

5. Appointment management

By using data to determine or predict the volume of medical appointments and physicians available, artificial intelligence can be used to schedule and streamline appointments. 

Through AI for example, hospitals can create systems that automate open spots, cancellations, and no-shows. The overall effect is optimal use of clinical time. Plus this data can be used to fine-tune the processes, making healthcare provision a seamless operation.

Leading AI Applications in Healthcare

As AI for healthcare gathers momentum, these are the top areas that are leading in applications.  

1. Robotic surgeries

Robotic surgery is emerging as the leading application for AI in healthcare. A robot is precisely controlled by a surgeon who is sitting at a computer console several feet away. The surgeon “drives” the robot like a videogame character, and the robot can perform surgeries with greater accuracy than a human hand.

The beauty of this is that robots never get tired or fatigued and therefore can work around the clock. This has led to the development of surgical “teams” consisting of a human surgeon and a team of robotic assistants. The human surgeon is in charge of the overall operation, while the robots handle the tedious and dangerous tasks such as handling scalpels and cutting through bone.

IN future, these robots could potentially perform surgeries without the aid of any human.   

2. AI chatbots in healthcare

One of the most robust AI uses in healthcare is through chatbots. Chatbots are computer-driven programs that can easily imitate human conversation. They are commonly used to provide customer service, but they are interestingly finding valuable Ai uses in healthcare. 

AI chatbots in healthcare can be used to provide basic information about a condition or medication, help people book appointments, and even provide support for mental health issues. They are a great way to connect with patients and make sure they are getting the information they need. 

In addition to providing information, chatbots can also be used to collect data. This data can then be used to improve patient care and help doctors make better decisions. 

3. AI nursing assistants

Nursing assistants are often the first line of care for patients, and they play a vital role in the overall health and wellbeing of patients. 

However, nursing assistants are often overwhelmed, which can result in sub-par care for patients. 

AI nursing assistants can alleviate some of the pressure that is put on nursing assistants. They can assist with tasks such as checking vitals, providing updates to doctors, and more. This can ensure that patients receive the best possible care.  

4. Administration

This could include anything from automating insurance claims to triaging patient inquiries. 

There are a number of benefits to using AI for administrative workflows. First, it can help to reduce the amount of time and resources that are needed to complete these tasks. Second, it can improve accuracy and efficiency. Finally, it frees up staff time so that they can focus on more important tasks. 

5. Fraud discovery

Billions of dollars are lost every year to healthcare fraud, and AI is helping to crack down on this by identifying patterns and irregularities that humans would otherwise miss. There are a number of ways that artificial intelligence can be used to detect fraud in healthcare. One common approach is to use machine learning algorithms to identify patterns in data that may indicate fraudulent activity. 

For example, if a lot of claims are being submitted for the same procedure from different providers in a short period of time, that could be an indication of fraud. Other factors that could be analyzed include the amount of money being claimed, the type of procedure being performed, and whether or not there is a history of fraud associated with the provider.

Another way that AI can be used to detect fraud is by Natural Language Processing (NLP) to analyze text data for clues that something might be amiss.

6. End of life care

Artificial Intelligence is likely to have a particularly profound impact in end of life care. Robots have the potential to revolutionize the way we care for the elderly and those who are terminally ill. They can simplify the process, making it more comfortable and less daunting for both the patient and their loved ones. 

In addition to providing physical care, robots can also be used to provide emotional support. This can be particularly helpful in cases where a patient is isolated or has no family members nearby. 

The Ethical Concerns of AI Applications in Healthcare

As AI becomes more and more integrated into mainstream healthcare, there are some ethical concerns over potential problems with AI in healthcare that have been raised. 

One such concern is that AI could be used to make decisions about a person’s health without their input or consent. For example, a computer program could be used to decide whether or not a patient is eligible for surgery, or whether they are likely to respond well to a certain type of medication. 

Another concern is that AI could be used to track and monitor patients without their knowledge or consent. This could potentially lead to the erosion of patients’ privacy rights. 

Despite these concerns, most experts agree that the benefits of AI in healthcare outweigh the risks. The good news is that these concerns are constantly being addressed and tools built into AI solutions to take care of the issues.  As such, it is important to keep an open mind about the possibilities that AI presents and work together to ensure that it is used ethically. 

How Can Healthcare Providers Prepare for the Future of AI in Healthcare?

AI is already commanding an impact on healthcare. As a healthcare provider you can prepare for this future across various fronts. The critical ones include data, partnerships, and training. 

We believe these three will be instrumental as you begin to plan for AI in your healthcare provision.

1. Data centers

Data is the fuel that powers artificial intelligence including AI technology in healthcare. You therefore need to start thinking about investing in adequate data center capacity. 

This means investing in hardware, software, and personnel that can manage and process large amounts of data. Additionally, healthcare providers need to start collecting as much data as possible now. The more data you have, the better you will be able to train your AI systems. 

2. Partnerships

Healthcare providers should start partnering with AI companies to gain access to the latest technology and trends. 

By partnering, you are sure to be level with the big shifts in AI and take advantage of emerging solutions as they take root. 

You certainly do not want to be a late comer, else the competition will edge you out.

3. Training

It is vital to ensure that all staff members are comfortable with using AI-based technologies, and that they are able to effectively handle patients using these tools. 

Of course finances, processes and governance will have to be part of this preparation. You need to start setting aside funds for AI transformation. It’s also critical that you set up teams to identify processes that will be affected. Finally, you need to establish governance structures to ensure your AI strategies are securely implemented.

Final Thoughts

AI and healthcare are increasingly becoming inseparable. From helping doctors diagnose diseases quickly to making it easier for patients to find the right healthcare provider, AI for healthcare is benefitting the healthcare industry in some pretty amazing ways. These uses are already achieving a transformative impact.  

As it continues to evolve and become more sophisticated, the impact of AI technology in healthcare can only get stronger. So if you’re looking for a way to transform your healthcare provision, AI is the way to go.

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