(Source: Nadya C/Shutterstock.com)
Artificial Intelligence (AI), also known as machine intelligence, is one of the most significant advancements in science. Computers or computer-assisted robots are designed and exposed to constant learning and consistent problem-solving. Machines can now perform tasks that were once believed only possible by humans.
As AI evolved, so did the healthcare industry. Here, we’ll review how a few AI-based healthcare applications are helping shape the healthcare industry.
It’s been said that prevention is better than a cure, which seems apt for AI’s influence on the healthcare industry. Errors in early diagnoses can lead to serious, life-threatening problems. Since the time AI has stepped in, the error rate of health diagnostics has gone down when compared with traditional diagnostic techniques. In addition, advanced medical imaging technologies have helped patients get a thorough diagnosis of various chronic diseases and give them a clear picture of their cardiovascular, breathing, visual, and neural well-being. Two Asian companies are a part of this AI influence:
Airdoc: This Beijing-based healthcare company uses AI and medical imaging for advanced diagnosis. Its retina health risk assessment product is available in medical institutions in addition to retail optical businesses and exam centers. Through fast and non-evasive retina scanning, complications from early chronic diseases can be detected. Regular scans can determine the management and details of these diseases.
Tricogm: This Bangalore-based predictive healthcare analytic firm is augmenting the traditional way of cardiac health diagnosis. Its products, such as InstaECG and Vcardia are cloud based and utilize cutting-edge hardware, AI, and a team of in-house medical experts. AI-powered electrocardiogram solutions generate reports and make them available on the cloud. Tricogm’s proprietary algorithm provides a preliminary interpretation of the report, which is later verified by its medical expert team. Once verified, these reports can be shared with patients via e-mail, SMS, or app notifications.
AI’s application is not just limited to diagnosis but medical risk prediction, virtual nursing assistants, medical data security, drug discovery, and robot-assisted surgery. AI implementation has not only improved the quality of service provided by healthcare organizations but also offers more accurate diagnosis, faster and better treatments, in addition to better health-record management databases for risk prediction.
In December 2018, a group of cardiologists from Tan Tock Seng hospital performed the first robot-assisted angioplasty surgery in Singapore and Southeast Asia. Since its success, these cardiologists have performed this robot-assisted angioplasty on more than 70 patients. The robotic surgical assistant is designed to maneuver and place a stent inside a patient’s blocked or narrowed artery. In the conventional method of angioplasty, stents are placed manually, which can be prone to human error. With a robotic assistant, stent placement is optimized, thus reducing the chance of human error. With this technology, surgeons operates the robotic assistant from a workstation (Figure 1), where they can magnify the artery for visually clear details of the blockage for stent placement.
Figure 1: Surgeon controlling the robotic arm from a work station. (Source: BigMouse/Shutterstock.com)
Healthcare industry advances are inevitable, meaning we’ll have more AI-powered products, applications and robots to help doctors and patients. It's possible that we might have robots to complete an entire surgery with manual observation and minimal intervention. The following are some developments that AI is bringing and changing the way how traditional healthcare once functioned:
Intelligent medical diagnosis and imaging: AI-powered computers help doctors with pathology and physical examination reports and medical images. Using big data and deep data mining, the medical data or a medical image of a patient is processed and analyzed. After analysis, the system examines and provides clinical variables and health indications of the patient.
Medical robots: AI-powered robotic devices are widely used in the medical industry. Intelligent prosthesis, exoskeleton, and auxiliary equipment help people recover from disabilities by increasing their mobility and physical support. Robots are also being used for sanitation and disinfection in advanced healthcare facilities. With an increase in virus and bacteria-based epidemics, robots can sanitize and disinfect their surroundings. In the future, hospitals globally will have more robotic assistants to help medical personnel perform various surgeries. Most exoskeleton robots can be operated remotely from a workstation.
Intelligent drug discovery: Drug discovery is a process in which drugs for medical use are discovered and designed. In the past, drugs were discovered by identifying its active ingredients in natural remedies or in serendipitous ways. Implementing AI into drug discovery is a boon to the drug manufacturers and their consumers. AI implementation reduces the timeline and improves the agility of the research process. Most important, AI-based systems accurately predict the efficacy of the drugs developed, thus helping manufacturers develop efficient drugs.
Intelligent health management: We are all so lucky to be living in an era in which anyone can monitor their sleep cycle, blood pressure, and calories burned using a smartwatch or a smartphone. But the future of health management using AI-powered devices has more to offer. AI-powered smart devices can regularly monitor diet, body health index, and sleep cycle enabling the assessment of physical health, provide health tips, predict whether one is prone to any disease and remind the user to pay attention to their health and safety.
Like any technology, implementing AI in health-care applications come with cost and security concerns. However, the advantages are far more convincing and crucial. AI’s role in shaping the future of health care is extensive and much needed.
Babu Vaitheeswaran is the Team Lead for Product & Technical Content at Mouser Electronics. He has completed his degree in Aircraft Maintenance Engineering and has worked as a technical writer in the Aerospace & Semiconductor industry for close to eight years. He is tech-savvy and loves riding motorbikes.
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