Healthcare is an industry that—quite understandably—operates under very high pressure for a significant share of the time. As a result, it is only natural to conclude that a technology that could potentially make the lives of healthcare providers and administrators easier in numerous ways shows some promise. That technology is artificial intelligence.
Let’s go over a few of the many ways that AI has been proposed (if not implemented already) as a solution to some of healthcare’s more challenging stresses.
AI Can Efficiently Analyze Vast Troves of Data
Regardless of how often you go to the doctor, your medical history is more than likely a huge assortment of disparate data points that—while grossly impractical to go through manually—could likely provide some insights if analyzed and organized properly.
AI is perfectly suited for just this kind of task, as it can find patterns that sheer numbers might have otherwise hidden in data. In theory, this kind of processing could ultimately lead to machine-based predictions that the human eye might have missed. Much like retail sites use your browsing and purchasing history to recommend products to you, AI might someday be able to predict a patient’s health trajectory and help rectify it preemptively.
From how long a patient should stay in the hospital to customizing treatment plans for patients, AI could very well have a say in most medical decisions through its capability to organize data.
AI Can Make New Medicines, Cheaper
Medicines are not a cheap thing to make. The amount of research alone that needs to go into developing a safe and effective drug is staggering, simply because of all the variables involved.
However, by using a similar technology that is found in self-driving cars, databases of molecular structures can be considered and tested through simulation. This form of AI can cut research times by months or even years, as we saw in 2015 when the ebola virus outbreak of the time was hastened by this kind of analysis and a treatment was developed much more rapidly as a result. Faster outcomes equal less time and money spent to come to the same conclusions.
Likewise, AI can be used to study existing drugs and find new purposes for them in a way that a human being simply can’t do. By identifying new use cases for existing drugs, companies can save money and expand the options for healthcare providers.
AI Can Make Healthcare More Secure
Like we said, healthcare providers have to store a lot of data… most of it sensitive and/or personally identifiable in nature. Not only that, but there’s financial data involved, too. All of this data is also critical to effective patient care, which means that lives could potentially be dependent on the availability of this data. This all makes healthcare providers and others in the industry a tantalizing target for cybercrime. After all, they have plenty of motivation to comply with any demands.
While human intervention may be enough to stop some threats, precedent has shown that the human element isn’t nearly effective enough to protect these systems unaided… particularly as threats are now also being powered by AI to be as effective as possible. In light of this, many are now turning to AI as a means of automating their protections against attacks—fighting fire with fire. With AI trained to detect potentially malicious activity, many threats can be nipped in the bud.
AI Can (Potentially) Help Eliminate Bias
Finally, we need to address the issue that bias creates in healthcare. Factors like race, gender, and ethnicity have been demonstrated to lead to flawed conclusions in healthcare as the bias of the researchers seeps into the research. While it is true that these biases can also be included in an AI program’s deliberations, careful consideration and remediation can turn an artificially intelligent system into the pinnacle of impartiality. By examining data and both considering and ignoring these factors, AI can help reveal the truth and keep these factors from inaccurately influencing health outcomes.
While we may be a long way from seeing AI of significant scale in all areas of healthcare in our personal lives, the promise is there… as it is for other industries, and in ways that are currently practical. We can help identify your opportunities to embrace what is available today to support your business’ success. To learn more, give us a call at (646) 741-1166.