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Will Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare Support Physicians or Replace them?

  • By Hidden Brains
  • April 10, 2018

Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare

Let’s ask ourselves a question, ‘Are we ready for a machine takeover in several areas of life, including healthcare?’ It is not possible to answer this question straight forward without imaging a futuristic scenario. Let us board a time machine and travel 10 to 12 years ahead nearing the year 2030. Suppose you are experiencing intense pain in your left arm – would you diagnosed by a physician or an artificially intelligent machine?

Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare: Adaptive Intelligence 

The idea of artificial intelligence in healthcare that eliminates the need of doctors, healthcare physicians, nurses, caretakers and other stakeholders is likely to be much more subtle. Experts see a lot of potential in AI and believe that this technology would support physicians rather than replacing them in the future.

Technology experts are always at the forefront of sufficing the needs of healthcare industry and patients through extended capabilities of AI. Such kind of intelligence that assists doctors in delivering the best possible care is known as adaptive intelligence.

Demystifying Machine Learning and AI in Healthcare 

Let’s dig deeper into what is machine learning and AI to later understand its relevance in healthcare domain. For many people, the term ‘artificial intelligence’ draws an imaginary image of humanlike robots. However, AI goes much beyond its usage through robots. The power of AI can be utilized through any device – as simple as a smartphone.

Artificial Intelligence is a computer science that develops programs to mimic human intelligence. The level of intelligence may range from recognizing patterns in data to deriving insights for problem solving.  This program based on AI capabilities can be implemented through a robot, smartphone or any other device.

Machine Learning is yet another term that is simultaneously used with AI. This technology helps in making sense from large amount of data by identifying and detecting patterns from it. This technology is currently used by Google to suggest terms based on your past searches. Even Netflix uses Machine Learning algorithm to provide you personalized suggestions based on history and the latest trends.

These examples only show how AI and ML are helpful to fulfil the needs of the users. Similar is the case of usage of Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare, i.e. it provides a helping hand to maintain the perfect balance in the healthcare ecosystem.  

The Helping Hand of Artificial Intelligence: AI Solutions for Healthcare

Healthcare professionals including doctors and other medical practitioners face the challenge of handling large amount of information of patients. They are constantly under the pressure of using the right diagnosis method and selecting the best treatment plan for each visiting patient, which might be in the range of hundreds per day.

For example, let’s consider the case of radiologist that use imaging techniques such as MRI, CT and X-rays to diagnose the injury of patient. Considering the large number of patients approaching radiologists for their injuries, the specialist is left with very little time to study each image or report. Radiologist also needs to study individual case with respect to studying patient’s medical history and current situation.

The problem of radiologists is to handle too much data in short time. This is where Artificial Intelligence can help. It is possible to program machines that scan these medical images to analyse whether they point or do not point towards a disease. At present, there are machine algorithms developed by Stanford researchers to identify pneumonia from images of chest X-rays.

However, this does not mean that radiologist would not be needed anymore. The technology of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are providing a helping hand to maintain a balance in the ecosystem, but not replacing physicians or any medical practitioners. AI solutions for healthcare are aimed to make doctors’ lives easier and improve patient experience. This adaptive intelligence technology is helping doctors to serve patients through extended capabilities.

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Changing Role of Doctors in the Artificially Intelligent Age

Though the concept of ‘Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare’ does not necessarily portray an image of robot with the white coat, it surely speeds up the workflow of doctors by supporting them with relevant insights. AI programs reduce the repetitive work of doctors, thereby giving more time to doctors for studying your case. The role of AI in healthcare continues to evolve and act as a personal assistant of doctors, but does not replace them.

Adaptive intelligence helps in streamlining the schedule of doctors and reducing the wait times of patients through optimized schedules. Patients waste a lot of time in hospital while waiting for their consultation appointment. Several times even doctors have to wait for the lab results to diagnose and start treatment of the patient. With the support of AI powered smart algorithms, hospitals could manage more efficiently, saving valuable time for both patients and physicians. A hospital’s scheduling system can be customized to take into account patient’s risk profiles. Patients who are at higher risk will get added priority in terms of getting their examination results more quickly.

The Power of Artificial Intelligence: Now in Your Pocket

Adaptive intelligence is not restricted to the walls of doctor’s clinic or hospital. Smartphones and wearables are programmed to leverage the power of AI so that people can access and keep track of their own health without much dependency.

Gartner predicts that 50% of the population will depend on virtual personal health assistants for their routine primary healthcare needs. These assistants help people in monitoring their health by comparing the current health status with predefined objectives and provide personalized tips to improve health condition.

These devices also help physicians in monitoring remotely located patients and detect the early signs of deterioration. Artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms can also help to identify adverse or critical events, triggering professional care when needed.

It could be said that the future of healthcare is quite positive in the light of AI. This technology is supporting healthcare ecosystem and extending doctor’s abilities in offering improved care; but, not replacing physicians at any cost! 

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