Leaps in computing power, programming abilities, and the web of interconnected devices has created a boom in artificial intelligence.
A.I. will undoubtedly improve, disrupt, and alter every industry in the world, but it’s in healthcare that it could make the strongest impact. Artificial intelligence could one day be the ultimate medicine — if knowledge is power, then infinite, bespoke knowledge on any medical condition or patient could provide clinicians with their greatest tools yet.
The American AI Initiative Moves Forward
On February 12th, the “American AI Initiative” executive order was signed, with the intent to foster and improve the development of artificial intelligence in the United States. It serves to outline the country’s AI policy going forward, showing a commitment to further development of the technology and law that could have an enormous impact on healthcare technology.
Obviously, the idea is to spur innovation and funding in all areas of AI, but considering how poised the healthcare industry already is to take advantage of this area of technology, the signing of this order could have an enormous impact on hospitals in the near future.
The executive order is separated into five pillars: funding, government resources, international engagement, standardization, and automation.
The funding aid is obvious — innovation doesn’t happen without dedicated cash flows. The “government resources” pillar allows researchers to make use of federal data to help their experiments, while the “international engagement” pillar pushes for cooperation between the US and other nations who are also heavily involved in the development of AI. The “standardization” pillar is of particular use to healthcare and medical computers, because it doubles down on ensuring that ALL companies and developers will be able to interconnect their systems to everyone’s benefit.
With the assortment of EHR systems, medical computer systems, and even hospital-specific programs that are in use, a “one standard to rule them all” could prevent another Apple vs. PC format war that would only end up hurting hospitals and consumers.
Aiding the Visually Impaired
The data gathered and processed by AI is already being used to help blind and visually impaired people.
It began with apps like NavCog, which used Bluetooth beacons scattered around an indoor space to allow a blind person to navigate with the help of their phone. While it can (and is used) for homes, the system has also been deployed in places like hotels and hospitals to assist the visually impaired.
The next generation of the technology, however, involves the use of a suitcase-like device that leverages artificial intelligence and laser-navigation lidar to create a real-time picture of the immediate environment. This “suitcase AI” could then relay that information, and help guide the user through audio cues.
Amazon, Google, and many other tech giants are already jumping into this same field, developing apps, programs, and hardware that could be of great use to not only the impaired, but to healthcare or elderly facilities as well.
AI Chatbots Helping Patients and Doctors
The importance of patient engagement and telehealth are well known at this point, but perhaps what isn’t as widespread is the idea that medical computers, and specifically A.I., just may be the key to pulling it off. All of healthcare is understaffed, which is why a little help from computers could be just what the doctor ordered.
Chatbots like Babylon Health almost function as full-fledged telehealth options in their own right. The AI chatbot uses a database of medical information and, when compared against the patient’s medical history and symptoms, can help a patient do the preliminary research on any medical complaints before they see a doctor. With text or voice chat support, patients can simply tell the chatbot their symptoms and get a relatively accurate solution. It won’t replace the hospital, but it’s a wonderful starting place for any patient — and saves the Urgent Care lobby from looking like Woodstock.
For older, forgetful, or simply busy patients, consider pointing them toward “Florence,” a personal AI nurse. Florence can remind patients to take their medicine (at whatever interval is desired), and can help track weight loss, menstrual cycles, and even mood and mental health.
A chatbot like “Safedrugbot” is actually for clinicians, a quick app/chat message service that allows doctors to ask about what drugs are safe to use for breastfeeding mothers. It even includes information about alternate medications.
These interactive AI are only the first step in augmenting patient care and battling healthcare understaffing.
AI to Help Detect Cancer
The combination of medical computers and AI to detect cancer could be a gamechanger for healthcare facilities across the globe.
A study by the University of Surrey and the University of California tested the use of AI networks and their efficacy in not only analyzing cancer symptoms from patient records, but also in using that data to identify cancer symptoms in patients that may have otherwise slipped through the cracks.
The idea is that the AI is constantly using a stream of live data from all connected hospitals and research centers, so its database is always improving. This information comes from a host of devices and locations — it combines demographics information, doctor notes on their medical computers, test results, lab images, examinations, Internet of Medical Things devices, medical surveys, study data, and any and all available recordings.
The AI then uses this information to create a kind of map of cancer symptoms. For instance, with access to such a firehose of information, the AI can use determinators like age, gender, location, previous medical history, genetics, and combine it with any known risk factors and symptoms. The AI can then compare all the data for that individual patient against ALL patients, everywhere, to determine the likelihood that the patient in question may have cancer, what kind of cancer, and how best to treat it.
Though this kind of AI network is still in testing, it could provide unprecedented levels of aid for diagnosticians, helping to catch cancer long before a test would normally be ordered.
It could even look at a patient’s risk factors and determine that they may just be at a high risk of cancer in the future, which could aid doctors in creating a plan to prevent that diagnosis in the future.
Paving the Way for AI
Artificial intelligence is already on the way, and could provide a quantum leap forward in diagnosis, patient engagement, and accessibility. However, AI definitely can’t do any of that on out-of-date or consumer-level technology.
Contact Cybernet today to learn about how long-lasting medical computers can survive and thrive in the brutal environment of a hospital, and how they can future-proof any healthcare facility for the bevy of technological changes that are on their way.