AI trends to watch out for in digital healthcare – Times of India

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Senior director, medical communication & corporate sales, Thieme
The advent of new age technologies has influenced and affected several sectors and healthcare has also received its share of transformation. Today, the healthcare sector looks much different than it did just a decade ago. While this sector was already going through a digital transformation, the Covid-19 pandemic worked as a catalyst in this process. Healthcare providers across the world had to adopt new technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) to serve the growing number of patients amid a global health staffing crisis and widespread shortage of resources.
The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of new-age technologies, with AI and ML being experimented with to harness their full potential. Machine Learning is a subfield of AI, broadly defined as the capability of a machine to imitate human behavior. These technologies simplify the lives of patients, doctors, and hospital staff or administration by performing tasks that are usually done by humans, but in less time and at low cost. In fact, AI has provided a fillip to the emerging digital health concept in India, under which new health technologies like wearable tech and telemedicine are changing the landscape of the country’s healthcare system.
As healthcare systems across the world continue to adopt AI and automation, hospitals and healthcare providers seek to deliver more personalized care. Here are some latest trends to watch out for in digital healthcare that is based on AI and ML:
Administrative workflow assistance: AI and ML can help in the effective management of patient flow. Caregivers can navigate medical records with the help of voice commands and have clinical data transcribed during patient visits. In addition to this, AI can also help in getting personalised responses to EHR (Electronic Health Record) searches. Apart from that, these technologies can automate traditionally manual and time-consuming tasks like entering patient-related information and medical claims scrubbing in case of error.
Disease diagnosis:AI and ML-based solutions can diagnose complex diseases like cancer and celiac disease, just by scanning through thousands of images in seconds. This can be done much more rapidly than humans and may help with the diagnosis of diseases in rural or remote areas where doctors or specialists are not available.
In this way, automated image diagnosis can recognise abnormalities in medical images- from CT to MRI to radiology scans, thus helping diagnose tumors, bone fractures, kidney and liver infections, and other illnesses.
Developing novel treatment: AI and ML can also assist in discovering appropriate drugs and treatment for a patient, besides lowering the cost. AI algorithms can analyse patient records, clinical trials, and research papers to understand complex cases and develop a novel treatment plan.
Robot-assisted surgery: There is an ongoing debate on whether AI-powered robots would replace human doctors. However, one thing to consider is that intelligent machines help surgeons operate with greater precision, minimising the risk of post-surgery complications, and speeding up patient recovery.
Virtual nursing assistant: Just like AI-powered robotic assistants, virtual assistants can provide 24X7 remote support for chronic conditions, track a patient’s health parameters, medication intake, and habits, and assist in scheduling doctor appointments.
Fraud detection: AI can help protect sensitive patient data, which is at the heart of providing personalised and secure care under digital healthcare. AI will also help in automating claims assessment, detects invalid claims, and speeds up processing, approval, and payment of valid ones.
Prescription error recognition: AI can help analyse historic EHR data and compare new prescriptions against it. AI can flag deviation from typical prescription patterns, prevent drug overdosing and other risks, helping patients as well as doctors.
Connected medical devices: Connected medical devices provide real-time reports about patient’s health and inform doctors if anything goes wrong.From simple glucose monitors to advanced insulin delivery systems and wearables, connected medical devices are yet another example of an AI-based trend in digital healthcare.
Identification of clinical trial participants: AI helps researchers find clinical trial participants in hours, not months. Natural Language Processing algorithms search through a patients’ health records and pathology reports to single out patients eligible for a particular trial.
Preliminary diagnosis: AI-backed systems or solutions can help diagnose various diseases, from cancers to eye conditions, by analysingthe data about previous diagnoses and learning to make diagnostic decisions.
Healthcare AI market trends
The market of healthcare AI is also growing with a good potential of ROI in view, among stakeholders and industry leaders. According to a report, adopting AI in healthcare could help US healthcare providers save USD 150 billion by 2026.
Another report suggests that the growth of AI in the healthcare market will be driven by the rising volume of complex data and reduction in hardware costs. The global AI in the healthcare market is expected to reach a market size of USD 215.53 billion by 2030 and register a substantially high CAGR over the forecast period, according to a new report.
The revenue growth in healthcare AI market is driven by increasing efficiency in drug discovery and advancement in precision medicine. This is resulting in rising demand and application of these solutions globally. The rise in prevalence of chronic diseases and the increasing global elderly population are expected to continue to support the growth of the market.
AI-enabled tools are being experimented with already to transform both patient-facing clinical processes and internal systems. According to a KPMG survey, 89% of respondents reported that AI is already creating new efficiencies in their systems. As many as 91% said they have successfully leveraged the technology to increase patient access to care.
In this way, Artificial Intelligence is making a difference in the way care is provided, improving both the caregiver and the patient experience. AI and ML-based technologies are aiding digital healthcare in bringing a positive change in the lives of people, especially at a time when the world is in a recovery mode after a devastating pandemic. In fact, the digital health platform is also helping companies in the healthcare sector on their AI and data journey.
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Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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