Using the latest and best technology has always been a practice of healthcare professionals. While people may be afraid to incorporate technology into their everyday lives, when it comes down to their health, most are more than willing to adopt whatever new innovation is available in order to help themselves and their loved ones. That said, the latest in healthcare technology may be a tougher pill to swallow: Artificial Intelligence.
What Can AI Do for My Health?
A colleague can look over your paperwork and determine what the best course of action is for you, but lab tests have intricate and often hidden patterns that can be missed by doctors. While doctors are excellent at reading charts and understanding issues, every three years the amount of medical data we collect as a whole doubles in size, and in four years, should double every 73 days! Doctors, no matter how well trained or intelligent they may be, will in no way be able to keep up with this amount of data. AI, however, can recognize patterns in test results as an algorithm, breaking down a diagnosis and courses of action better than any trained doctor. Within the next few years, it will not only be beneficial, but necessary for AI systems like IBM’s Watson to be involved in the healthcare industry.
Healthcare For All
Having residents of third world countries find doctors that can treat them effectively can be a real challenge. There is an inherent cost to seeing a doctor who has been through eight to ten years of school in order to specialize in a specific field. While programs like Doctors Without Border does an excellent job of bringing the neediest amongst us the medical treatment they need, they cannot be everywhere at once. Technology, however, seemingly can be.
Toby Walsh, a professor of AI at the University of NSW, believes that we as a people will be able to bring “first world” healthcare to the third world in the very near future thanks to AI. Web systems that run on smartphones, tablets and portable PCs will be able to provide a diagnosis to someone in a remote location who otherwise would not be able to see a doctor.
Being able to provide exceptional medical treatment even to the poorest among us would be a huge step for AI and the healthcare industry as a whole.
Lowering Costs Across the Board
Healthcare is expensive for a number of reasons, mostly because finding cures for diseases can take decades and researching new drugs is extremely time consuming. However, if the old phrase “time is money” is true, saving time means saving money. With AI and machine learning, the time it takes to do both of these tasks can be significantly decreased.
What takes a team of researchers weeks, if not years to uncover may be discoverable by AI in just a fraction of the time.
For example, Google is applying its machine learning expertise to predict when you might get sick.
Originally published on Ciklum Blog on January 9, 2019.