TMCnet Feature
October 07, 2020

A Look At The Future of AI in Healthcare

Artificial intelligence (AI) has evolved to become so much more than the sum of its parts. The algorithms, the code, the neural networks and deep learning capabilities are all combined to create solutions that have immense potential across industry and sector. But it is, perhaps in healthcare that AI is shining the brightest. The technology is helping to solve some of the most pressing challenges facing the healthcare sector right now, and providing invaluable support for physician, patient and practice. The future of AI in healthcare is defined by practical applications and innovative ideas that are helping to reduce the strain on the system and changing the face of medicine as a whole.

The future of AI in healthcare: Tomorrow

According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), the future of AI in healthcare will be dramatically different in just ten years. By 2030, data will be the fuel that powers AI analytics, revealing patterns in disease and patient behavior that can transform patient diagnosis and care. Data will be used to predict patient risk, to reduce waiting times and to improve efficiencies. All thanks to the capabilities of AI. This future of AI in healthcare will not only be marked by seamless patient care, reduced workload and transformed systems, but by the ability to detect patterns and connect systems. Connectivity will not only pull data from multiple touchpoints to create far more cohesive interpretations, but it will connect practitioners and practices, globally. This connectivity will allow for the seamless sharing of knowledge that can save lives - using the latest breakthroughs and healthcare insights anywhere from the bright lights of London to the rural village in India.

The WEF article points to three primary areas that will be affected by AI in healthcare by 2030 – connected care, improved patient and staff experiences, and AI-powered predictive care. While the year 2020 shows a sharply different picture, one painted by the impact of the pandemic and the relative youth of the technology, ten years are a long time in the constantly evolving world of tech and AI.

According to an analysis of the future of AI in healthcare by Abhimanyu S. Ahuja in the NCBI, medicine is changing alongside AI. The article focuses on how physicians are being impacted by AI and concludes that AI remains a tool that supports the medical practitioner across multiple fields and areas of practice. In the article, the area of diagnostic radiology is given significant attention as this field can benefit hugely from AI-driven solutions. The vast quantities of data and the urgent need to constantly interpret this data in sensitive time frames, means that AI can potentially reduce workloads and improve prioritization in workflows for radiologists under immense pressure. For this profession, perhaps more than any other, the future of AI in healthcare would be the ability to triage multiple patients using an AI solution that can flag critical or urgent cases for improved management of critical care patients. This is already happening in multiple medical practices and institutions with solutions such as Aidoc. As Abhimanyu points out, ‘AI/DL technology and its implementation into day-to-day clinical imaging is poised to transform the practice of radiology’.

The future of AI in healthcare also sits in administrative burden. No, this is not as glamorous or exciting as radiology workflows and intelligent analysis of billions of datasets and images, but it is perhaps one area that will significantly reduce physician workloads and improve patient care. Physicians are under constant pressure to complete increasingly weighty amounts of admin that are put on them by the practice, regulation and medical aid. This admin is one of the primary causes of physician burnout and can significantly impact on time spent with patients and handling actual patient care. AI can potentially reduce admin processes, automate certain tasks, and improve patient triage. The admin future of AI in healthcare may well be the most felt by patients who want better care and faster diagnosis and less paperwork.  

The future of AI in Healthcare: Today

According to a McKinsey report ‘Transforming healthcare with AI: The impact on the workforce and organizations’, AI is set to change how healthcare is delivered, globally. Today, AI is already shaping how medical practices and practitioners approach their workflows and volumes, and, as the technology learns, this will only improve.  As the report points out, “AI is now top-of-mind for healthcare decision makers, governments, investors and innovators…”

The future of AI in healthcare may be still unrealized in many ways – technology continues to evolve and adapt and provide increasingly remarkable solutions – but it has already begun. Here are some of the most stand-out examples of AI in healthcare that exist today, and that are changing lives right now.

In the radiology environment, Aidoc’s solutions have been deployed at more than 400 leading medical centers worldwide and have analyzed studies of more than three million patients to improve the value and accuracy of the algorithm and the AI. The company has six FDA cleared solutions and six CE marks; flagging acute abnormalities as they enter the workflow; and is continuously investing into new ways of providing medical professionals with critical support. Aidoc collaborates with radiologists to build answers to specific problems in a strategic and coherent way. Focusing on strategy, deliverables, and measurable results, Aidoc is focused on building clinically proven AI solutions.

In the drug discovery environment, two AI programs called Adam and Eve, are capable of analyzing billions of data points to unpack insights and information around anything from yeast to malaria. In this article in Scientific American, the scientists explain that these two AI-powered systems are a step towards finding new drug candidates and compounds that can potentially save lives. Finally, AI is being used to manage population health which could improve patient care and outcomes. This AI use case has immense value both now, and in the future, and can potentially transform how individuals with chronic conditions, such as cancer, receive care and support.

The future of AI in healthcare is as much taking place today as it is being innovated for tomorrow and, thanks to its constant evolution and potential, it looks set to change the face of medicine forever.

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