#2 The Advent of AI in Healthcare

Overview

In this age of technology, it has been made clear that artificial intelligence knows no bounds. From gaming to the automotive industry, AI has shown its creativity and usefulness time and again. Once thought of as a futuristic threat to humankind, artificial intelligence is now a part of everyday life. The exact opposite of a threat, artificial intelligence is changing and saving lives while being woven tighter into the fabric of society.

In healthcare, AI is changing the game with its applications in decision support, image analysis, and patient triage. To enhance artificial intelligence technology, universities, tech companies, and venture capital firms alike have invested millions over the years. Now able to process unlimited amounts of unstructured data (notes from exams, scan images, etc.), AI programs turn images and words into intelligible information. Analysis and organization of this raw data is helping healthcare professionals better interpret patient data and deliver superior care.

With its image analysis programs, AI technology is taking the hassle and uncertainty out of viewing patient scans. Today, machine learning algorithms have the ability to highlight problem areas on images, aiding in the screening process. This image analysis from the computer serves as an additional degree of confidence in the diagnosis of a patient’s condition. This technology has seen greatest adoption in fields such as dermatology, neurology, and ophthalmology, but its specialty reach has expanded with time.

Decision support is another application in which AI is improving patient outcomes. When faced with a difficult case file, even the most experienced of physicians may have trouble suggesting next steps for a complicated patient. For this reason, clinical decision support systems are becoming essential tools for healthcare providers. With their ability to reduce clinical variation and duplicative testing while ensuring patient safety, decision support systems quickly make sense of the mountains of data within a physician’s EMR system.

Also popular for patient triage, AI is helping with the issue of physician burnout by providing a safe and reliable method of automated outreach to patients. To avoid unnecessary patient visits for trivial or nonexistent conditions, AI is being deployed to collect patient data. Via an app or text messaging, chatbots can now ask patients a series of questions regarding their symptoms. After collecting sufficient information, the automated bots are able to recommend a visit to the doctor, or send along the information for physician review and consultation. AI’s patient triage application is taking the guesswork out of self-diagnosis and saving both the patient and healthcare provider time and money. With AI’s continued integration into healthcare, caring for patients has become a matter of working smarter, not harder.
 

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