It’s no surprise that both AI (artificial intelligence) and ML (machine learning) have had quite an impact on the healthcare industry in Western countries over the past decade. In developing countries, however, it looks like AI is just getting started. Industry specialists claim it will revolutionize the system, acting as a catalyst in countries – and mostly in rural areas – where access to basic medicine and physicians is a major concern.
The benefits of AI in healthcare go beyond infrastructure
One of the core benefits of AI is that it doesn’t need to build infrastructure to work. This means that its efficiency is independent of location. In remote areas, for example, the opportunities to improve medical diagnostics are huge. AI can function remotely side-by-side with physicians and doctors who must treat patients from a distance. It can help them prioritize their cases and cater to the medical affections of those in dire need of care.
Remote patient monitoring and telehealth now go beyond the traditional clinical office. By removing geographical barriers, the future looks brighter even for those with access to basic technology such as a smartphone. As the demand for custom medicine increases, increasingly more devices are launched with apps that can track wellbeing metrics, capture background data, and other vital signs. In a clinical environment, these features can save people time, money, and additional resources required to stay healthy or access healthcare when it is most needed.
AI and machine learning – the next step in preventive medicine
As far as the effectiveness of machine learning (ML), it looks like the healthcare industry sits on a data goldmine. Google, together with its sister company, Verily, uses ML to introduce a tool that screens and prevents blindness in patients who are diabetic. In India, over 70 million people suffer from this condition, meaning that screening all of them for diabetic retinopathy is close to impossible. But an ML algorithm trained to diagnose retinopathy can do the screening in a heartbeat, thus enabling doctors to segment the patients, and treat those who need urgent assistance.
The power of AI – unlimited capacity to help millions of patients
In many developing countries, smartphones will soon become virtual doctors. Commonly used today for telemedicine, in the foreseeable future they will feature AI-driven diagnostics, in-apps for automatic medication prescription, and more. For the healthcare system in developing countries, this step would be a changemaker. In a world where access to basic medical insurance is limited and resources are scarce, the ability to use a smart device to take a photo of an injury, be automatically diagnosed, and receive medicine via a drone can save a life.
Apart from tech-only diagnostics and chatbot-enabled advice, the data collected by an AI can help improve the healthcare system as a whole. By collecting information on patients, their geo-location, and their illness, governments in developing countries could finally understand that AI has the potential to reduce casualties on a massive level over time.
Unlimited applications for AI in healthcare
With artificial intelligence and machine learning at the core of the healthcare industry, the world could become a healthier place. In one study, AI has proven that deep learning technology paired with complex algorithms can diagnose breast cancer faster than 11 pathologists. Developed by PathAI, the goal is to reduce error when diagnosing cancer, as well as develop faster, custom treatments for patients.
Another great example is Enlitic, an AI company on a mission to bridge the gap between humans and AI to improve patient outcomes by providing fast, accurate medical diagnostics. Enlitic is on the verge of developing several deep learning tools using AI technology; their purpose being to streamline radiology diagnoses by assessing unstructured medical data (e.g. EKGs, medical history of the patients, radiology images, genomics, blood tests, and more).
Bottom line is, artificial intelligence in healthcare is here to stay. Amid a never-ending pandemic, it’s more important now than ever to stay safe, but also to ask for help and be able to get it without exiting your home. Through deep learning and machine learning algorithms, AI can and will revolutionize healthcare at some point in the future.
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