Artificial intelligence (AI) and predictive modeling based on Big Data are going to be the key buzzwords in the coming decade. From banking to retail and from education to healthcare, data-intensive sectors are getting ready to be served by AI-driven computers programmed to make decisions with minimum human intervention. While interaction with “May-I-Help-You” chatbots is common on all websites today, how comfortable are we when it comes to sharing our medical history with a chatbot on visiting a hospital website? Usage of artificial intelligence in the healthcare sector is still at its infancy in India. Let’s take a look at how AI is changing healthcare globally and will do so in the future.
The first step in healthcare involves a compilation of previous health history and medical records. This is efficiently carried out by digital automation as all minute parameters affecting the patient’s health, and the dose-response details of all previous medication can be retracted and analyzed faster and more consistently. While consulting an individual patient with a certain set of symptoms, the doctor can pull out hundreds of other cases with similar symptoms from the database and discuss the reactions to a certain set of medications. It involves an informed discussion between both sides and brings medication to a personal care level and allows confidence building.
Analysis of routine X-rays, ECGs, CT scans by automated robots will result in saving of a huge amount of hospital work time, and human intervention will be required in supervising only the most critical of cases. This will help hospitals in better resource management and deputation of expert manpower to saving lives in the Intensive Care Units (ICUs)and Intensive Therapy Units (ITUs).
AI can chart out a future course of action for present ailments and help outpatients and medical practitioners with predictive analysis. This can save on repetitive hospital visits for recurring ailments and provide medicare when the doctor is unavailable. Apps like Babylon in the U.K., offer medical consultation based upon the patient’s personal medical history ranked against a vast database of illness and common medical knowledge.
Boston Children’s Hospital, in 2016, developed an app for Amazon’s Alexa, which gave basic health information to parents of ill children. It also answers questions about medication and suggests a visit to a doctor after scanning symptoms. Molly, a digital nurse, has been developed by startup Sense.ly which monitors patient condition and follow-ups in between doctor visits for patients with a critical illness. In many cases, this has been found to reduce hospitalization time for patients
Development of drugs through clinical trials takes over than a decade and involves huge costs. AI can aid in this process by scanning existing medicines including their differences in composition and effectiveness, can suggest redesigning of chemical formulations and combinations for tackling sudden medical exigencies or deadly outbreaks caused by new strains of viruses. This was found effective during the recent fight against Ebola, where AI suggested medication was found to be effective.
Wearable health trackers like FitBit, Apple and Gramin monitor real-time heart rates and activity, and charts out activity routines for the day, along with sending warning messages in case of certain parameters deteriorating, based upon the habits and needs of patients.