“Alexa, what’s new with AI and healthcare?”
Voice-enabled devices such as Amazon’s Echo, email spam filters, and mobile check deposits are just a few examples of the way artificial intelligence (AI) has changed our world. Although the technology has been around for years, its reach goes beyond home life as it is now impacting the healthcare sector, too.
The implementation of AI technology is growing and will continue to increase as it solves and promises further solutions to challenges encountered by patients, healthcare facilities, and the healthcare industry. In fact, a recent Forbes article reveals that AI has the potential to save healthcare systems and services $269.4 billion annually, $18 billion of which is tied directly to administrative savings.
TechTalks founder Ben Dickson covers AI’s role in decreasing administrative costs in healthcare in a VentureBeat article. Read on to learn about three important areas where efficiencies could be improved through this technology.
- Population health management
- Evidence-based medicine
- Medication research and discovery
HIPAA, the HITECH Act, and other regulations have been key in driving the use of digital technology in healthcare, including the development and adoption of electronic health records (EHRs). Yet, the actual value of the medical data captured is more difficult to quantify.
Population health management tools currently in place require analysts to probe healthcare datasets. However, AI could narrow the gap between collected information and unknown information because clinicians had not made the appropriate inquiries. Technology makes it possible to assess the data and uncover similarities and differences with little human interaction. The findings could help hospitals and other healthcare organizations provide preventive and predictive care, which could lead to substantial savings in disease management and treatment.
“[AI] may be used in the identification or development of evidence-based medicine and treatment protocols that can be used, generally, for the treatment of specific diseases,” says Pamela Hepp, an expert in data security, healthcare regulation, and digital health records and a shareholder at Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney PC, whose insights are included in the VentureBeat article.
Today, AI algorithms are working to increase those endeavors. They could prove vital for both patient health and in decreasing costs for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases. A computer can study numerous established treatment alternatives and propose the best option(s) for a patient. In addition to its capacity to save lives, the method could reduce the expenses associated with recurring hospitalizations and premature discharge of at-risk patients.
The advancement of new medications and vaccines is a lengthy and costly process. However, AI could facilitate in decreasing expenditures and hasten the process by furthering analysis and research efforts. Dickson illustrates this point by citing an example of a partnership between Pfizer and IBM Watson to utilize AI in the drug research process.
“IBM will use the massive computational power and cognitive abilities of its AI platforms to quickly analyze and test hypotheses from ‘massive volumes of disparate data sources’ that include more than 30 million sources of laboratory and data reports as well as medical literature,” he says. “For instance, researchers can use Watson’s natural language processing (NLP) capabilities to analyze the content of thousands of medical papers and reports at very fast speeds to find facts that are relevant to their work.”
AI has demonstrated diagnostic algorithms, as well as the potential to decrease operational expenses and provide various enhancements to the way patients understand their care. As the landscape continues to change and shift, AI will be instrumental in shaping the future of healthcare.
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