We have indeed reached a point where it has become impossible to imagine a future without the lights of AI. Indeed, the technology is spreading its roots rapidly — in every industry, across multiple domains. And, healthcare is no exception. Today’s medical professionals don’t have the need to memorize a vast amount of information as they did a long time ago. They can now focus more on complex tasks and patient care. However, this is just a small picture of what the healthcare landscape looks like.
According to MarketsandMarkets’ reports, the AI-driven healthcare market is expected to reach a whopping USD 7,988.8 million by 2022; growing from USD 667.1 million in 2016 at a CAGR of 52.68 percent. The increasing need for processing massive amounts of complex data is cited to be one of the major reasons for this growth. The report clearly indicates that AI is poised to raise the standards of healthcare in terms of flexibility and efficiency. And as the interests – in AI – continue to surge, the scope for care centric applications has also widened.
Let’s take a look at the core AI-based applications that exist in today’s healthcare.
1. Health Assistants/Chatbots
Chatbots are one of the most basic yet effective applications of AI that aims to simplify the clinical process. In most cases, patients consult their doctors even when they find minor signs of illness. This oftentimes become time-consuming for both.
AI-based chatbots/assistants efficiently solves this issue in no time. Acting as the first-aid for patients to rely on, they can now manage a major part of clinical and outpatient services. This helps doctors to dedicate their valuable time to attend to cases that are more critical. In a typical scenario, the chatbot asks and understands the users’ symptoms, and provides incisive information and instructions to take care of their current medical condition. This is possible, as chatbots have access to a wide array of information that links the symptoms to specific medical conditions.
Technically speaking, they use Natural Language Processing (NLP) to understand the patient’s symptoms, and Machine Learning (ML) algorithms to map down the user’s medical condition. Based on these, they can also prescribe medication. Thus, creating a unique and intuitive patient experience altogether.
2. Wearables - The New Trend-Setters
Apart from chatbots, the advent of AI has also triggered a new trend of wearables—as a result of the busy lifestyle. They enable patients to monitor and keep a track of their health on the move. Doctors are also benefited from this innovation, as they can ignore the need for a detailed diagnosis every time their patients visit them.
That’s not all. Wearables are also becoming a life-saving option during medical emergencies as most of them can send timely alerts to smartphones.
3. Smart Medication Management
As mentioned above, chatbots (or smart doctors) may also prescribe medication to the patients based on the medical data. The prescription is sent to the patient’s wearable from which he or she can order the medication using the integrated payment system. Apart from that, a wearable health app can also remind the patients when it is time to take their medicines.
4. The New-Generation Hospital Management
The crux of healthcare lies in hospitals. AI-based innovations are simplifying the lives of doctors and nurses almost on a daily basis. These include smart health monitoring equipments, medication tracking systems, and patient movement tracking systems (powered by sensors), and more. Moreover, robot-assisted surgeries are also gaining prominence across healthcare organizations.
What the Future Holds
The applications of AI can be widely explored and expanded in various verticals—depending on the criticality. Insurance verification, lab results analysis, and medical record data analysis are few of them. As for now, we are only scratching the surface. In days to come, as AI applications become more and more user-friendly and integrated with medicine, people will have access to high-quality, swift and efficient healthcare services.
Originally published , updated May 07 2018