The future of artificial intelligence in healthcare

Artificial intelligence is making its way into the medical sector, but will it be a hard pill to swallow for the industry? GlobalData’s healthcare team takes a look at the potential benefits and risks of using AI in healthcare.​​​​​​​

Artificial intelligence (AI) is being implemented in almost every aspect of day-to-day life. From recommendations on Netflix or Spotify and fraud detection for bank accounts, to experimental self-driving cars, the scope of this technology is rapidly expanding.

AI can also improve the quality, safety and implementation of healthcare. It removes bias and finds patterns from huge pools of data, doing the same work in minutes that humans either wouldn’t feasibly be able to do, or that would take months or years.

Pipeline development, diagnosis, treatment design and medication management are just some of the areas where artificial intelligence can help improve healthcare, through the use of big data.

Data-based diagnosis

Artificial intelligence is already being used for basic care and diagnosis, providing patients with an appropriate course of action based on their symptoms, medical history and other factors.

Once such tool, Your.MD, has been approved for use by the NHS in the UK in a bid to help alleviate the pressure on healthcare workers by reducing patient visits to doctors. Applied to rare disorders and hard-to-spot patterns, this technology not only assists in early diagnosis – crucial in nearly all disorders – but can also prevent misdiagnosis.

Another example is DeepMind, owned by Google, which uses images from eye scans to help spot notoriously hard-to-detect eye disorders, such as diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular edema. The algorithms can detect abnormalities in a matter of seconds that would potentially never have been picked up otherwise.

The project is being developed with the NHS, and it is thought that this technology could prevent up to 89% of severe visual loss for certain diseases.

DeepMind, owned by Google, which uses images from eye scans to help spot notoriously hard-to-detect eye disorders.”

AI-enabled treatment plans

Treatment plans and regimens are another area where artificial can assist healthcare professionals.

Taking into account various sources of data, including a patient’s medical history, clinical trial studies and healthcare information, AI technology can select the best plan for each individual patient within seconds.

A study found that one such technology for cancer patients recommended the same treatment plan that was chosen by oncology specialists in 99% of cases.

Will AI medicine be hard to swallow?

The use of artificial intelligence in healthcare is not without its detractors, though. The amount of sensitive data that is stored, and the safety of that information, has been highlighted as a key concern.

There is also some concern over potential job losses in areas where AI systems could replace healthcare workers, as well as the loss of the human touch in the treatment of patients.

But there is no question that the impact AI could have on healthcare – from helping in the drug development process, to making sure patients adhere to treatment protocol – is monumental.

The potential of using AI to create personalised medicines using genomics is also believed to have a huge impact on healthcare in the coming decade.

The revolutionary changes this technology can elicit will change the healthcare landscape and allow for improvements across the board for patients, health practitioners and pharmaceutical companies alike – as long as they can stomach the thought of a more automated future.

The use of AI to create personalised medicines could have a huge impact on healthcare.