Artificial Intelligence in the Healthcare System

The modern healthcare system is rapidly developing with the integration of new technological advancements. Healthcare has always been seeking for more intelligent solutions to the many problems that it faces, and the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) is one that is on the rise. From general checkups to cancer, there are countless ways to incorporate AI into our healthcare system that will allow us to establish more accurate, effective and significant interventions at every specific moment in a patient’s care.

AI, in simple terms, is any function that a machine can perform by itself without requiring human assistance. There are a few types of computer AI that could help improve the healthcare system. The first one is the use of “human algorithms.” This process is actually not completely independent of human cognition, as it uses human-created algorithms as a basis for analyzing data and recommending treatments. “Machine learning” is another type of AI variant that relies on neural networks, which is a computer system modeled on a human brain. This type of AI can be quite unpredictable, even to the programmers. This system involves multiple probabilistic analyses, which allows computers to simulate and even broaden the way the human brain evaluates and processes data.

Just these two variants of AI alone can bring to mind various uses for AI in the healthcare system. In a country like the US where the doctor to patient ratio is 2.3 per 1000 people, using machines that have human algorithms based on a physician’s critical thinking and decision could help give a quick general diagnosis while also allowing to cater to more patients. Predictions of the various outcomes or stages a patient’s disease could face could also be made with the machine’s learning technique, providing us with information or possible situations that humans would have missed.

The 2018 World Medical Innovation Forum on artificial intelligence showcased twelve technological areas of the healthcare industry where AI was most likely to flourish in the next decade. One brilliant idea that was discussed on this forum was that of the unification of the mind and machine. It expands on how AI can help bridge the gap of communication between the doctor and a patient who has lost the ability to interact due to neurological trauma or something similar. This can be achieved through the use of brain-computer interfaces (BCI) that is backed with AI, which can help decode the neural activities associated with the patient's body. This could be a revolutionary way to treat patients who suffer from strokes or spinal cord injuries. Another interesting topic that was brought up in the forum was reducing the burdens of electronic health record use. Health officials are developing a new way to automate information into patient documentation, which ultimately saves a lot of time during a typical doctor's appointment. They are also planning on developing AI assistant applications that can request refills and schedule appointments for you: looks like Google has already gotten started on that one though.

An important point to consider however is the ethical aspects of integrating AI in the healthcare system. Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine believe that the rapid growth of AI requires physicians and scientists to be cautious when evaluating and making decisions. Some concerns are that “human algorithms” would cause bias and that the machine will not incorporate the opinions of other experts. Physicians should also understand the mechanisms behind every algorithm and be able to critically assess them as well as properly explain them to the patients if necessary. Another ethical problem is definitely the lack of employment when “data becomes the doctor.” Not only medical professionals, but other sectors including health administration staff would also not be required as much.

In a nutshell, there are both pros and cons to incorporating artificial intelligence into the healthcare system. However, the innovations in health technology could make diagnosing and treating patients easier and more effective in the future. Ethical concerns should definitely be addressed and human resources and scientists should come up with ideas to still incorporate manpower into the healthcare system, should it ever feel like it might diminish.

References:

Bresnick, Jennifer. “Top 12 Ways Artificial Intelligence Will Impact Healthcare.” HealthITAnalytics, HealthITAnalytics, 30 Apr. 2018, www.healthitanalytics.com/news/top-12-ways-artificial-intelligence-will-impact-healthcare.

News Center. “Researchers Say Use of Artificial Intelligence in Medicine Raises Ethical Questions.” News Center, www.med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2018/03/researchers-say-use-of-ai-in-medicine-raises-ethical-questions.html.

Pearl, M.D. Robert. “Artificial Intelligence In Healthcare: Separating Reality From Hype.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 13 Mar. 2018, www.forbes.com/sites/robertpearl/2018/03/13/artificial-intelligence-in-healthcare/

Milaskha Mukhia