Modern medicine has undoubtedly made enormous strides, but there is still plenty of room for progress in the sphere. Fortunately, careful use of emerging artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities can get us closer to achieving many of the most necessary advancements.
From employing AI to improve the telemedicine experience and streamline key tasks in healthcare facilities to leveraging robots to increase precision in surgical procedures, strategic usage of intelligent machines has already begun to define the future of medicine. Let’s examine trends driving the transformation, challenges standing in the way, and the path forward to a more efficient healthcare system supported by AI.
AI in Healthcare & Its Expected Economic Impact
According to an analysis by MarketsAndMarkets, the market for AI in healthcare is projected to experience explosive growth in the coming years, rising at a CAGR of 46.2% from $6.9 billion in 2021 to $67.4 billion by 2027.
What is the basis for this unprecedented projected market growth? Numerous factors are prompting a need for more robust technologies in healthcare and setting the stage for the necessary improvements to come to fruition.
Some of the primary things spurring the advancement and proliferation of AI technologies in the healthcare field include:
- An urgent need to reduce the costs of medical care
- Swaths of medical data which must be efficiently processed
- Growing accessibility to AI worldwide
- Increasing computing power coupled with decreasing hardware costs
- Rising focus on creating more human-aware AI solutions
- Diverse potential applications for AI in the fight against COVID-19 and other illnesses, from vaccine development to testing to illness spread tracking
- A disconnect between the health workforce and patients, calling for reimagined solutions
As a testament to the growing recognition of AI’s power to solve some of today’s biggest and most pressing hurdles in healthcare, venture capital funding for the top 50 healthcare-related AI firms has already exceeded $8.5 billion.
Now Trending: How AI Is Propelling Improvements in Healthcare
Mounting evidence is showing how enabling AI-led tools can promote major efficiency and care quality improvements across the healthcare continuum. Here’s an overview of exciting AI developments that are already underway and expected to be embraced heavily in the sector, in 2022 and beyond.
Optimized Efficiency in Healthcare Administration & Management
In light of the skyrocketing shortage of skilled healthcare professionals projected for the next decade, medical facilities are increasingly turning to AI platforms for help with automating repetitive tasks that take up valuable time which could be better spent with patients.
At many healthcare practices, AI is being leveraged for everything from scheduling appointments to delivering patient care plans to reviewing insurance claims. Intelligent technologies are even being used to analyze radiology scans and recognize significant visual markers with high levels of accuracy.
With AI handling a range of routine, time-consuming, and error-prone tasks in healthcare, staff will be able to concentrate their time, attention, and skills where they matter most: the patients. Thanks to healthcare AI implementation, patients can expect to receive more personalized care and other benefits like increased acceptance of a greater number of insurance plans.
Refined Telehealth Solutions
The ongoing pandemic has necessitated increased reliance on telemedicine, leading to around 38x times higher utilization than prior to 2020. For patients unable to meet in person with their healthcare providers for concerns related or unrelated to COVID-19, AI systems have played a crucial role in making remote screening, diagnosis, and tracking of disease all possible.
Going forward, AI-based telehealth solutions will continue to evolve to reduce the burden on physicians, save time, reduce healthcare costs, and enhance the efficiency of treatment delivery. On video visits, platforms with an AI component are helping to create a smoother patient-physician interaction. For instance, AI techniques may be engaged to gather and migrate relevant patient data from various sources (lab results, scans, etc.) to virtual telehealth platforms in real-time.
Voice-controlled tools built on natural language processing can also be used to help doctors quickly record virtual visit details and add them to the patient’s electronic health record (EHR). From biographical data to lab results to procedure history, EHRs contain rich patient data from which machine learning algorithms can pull out important insights for medical providers and those for whom they care.
At home and on the go, telehealth applications are already empowering patients to keep an eye on their blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, and other vital signs on an ongoing basis. AI tools are proving very effective at using this recorded data to perform predictive analytics, caution physicians and their patients about possible health issues revealed in these metrics, and suggest treatment plan/dosage adjustments as needed.
Wizeline recently collaborated with a US-based telehealth startup, MiSalud, to build a fully compliant, digital health mobile application and platform to provide personalized, culturally sensitive health and wellness services to the Spanish-speaking community in the Americas. The MiSalud platform enables patients to connect with health coaches in Mexico and LATAM and Spanish-speaking physicians in the US, leveraging video chats to deliver a culturally appropriate experience in their native language.
Personal Health Monitoring with Wearables & Other Devices
Today’s smartphones and wearables can track everything from heart rate to step count. When paired with AI, these devices become even more powerful, as intelligent technologies can analyze the tracked data and alert users of possible health issues.
For instance, a study by the creators of the heart rate monitoring app Cardiogram and the UCSF Health lab showed that the Apple Watch was able to detect paroxysmal atrial fibrillation, a common heart arrhythmia, with 97% accuracy when used alongside neural network algorithms. Similar methods of combining AI and wearables may also allow for the detection of stroke warning signs and other serious medical issues.
Wearables can also be very useful after a stay at the hospital or another medical facility. In a National Health Service pilot program conducted in the UK, patients were given a WiFi-enabled armband to monitor their vitals at home following discharge. With AI used to capture and analyze patient data recorded by the wearables in real-time, there was a drop in rates of emergency room visits, home health visits, and hospital readmission. Another noteworthy result: With the wearable wristbands, adherence to treatment plans jumped to above 96% – a significant improvement over the healthcare industry’s average rate of 50%.
With support from AI technology comes an opportunity to make devices like smartwatches widely accessible and impactful tools for identifying, treating, and tracking the spread of diseases such as COVID-19. Healthcare companies leveraging wearable technology to optimize patient care can also partner with technology companies focusing on improving the digital experience for the user, ultimately increasing user adoption and satisfaction. The benefits to be gained span from streamlining the healthcare system to bringing down medical care costs to saving lives.
For one client, Wizeline used rapid prototyping to develop an application designed to improve the user’s mental and physical health through daily tasks and learnings from top subject matter experts in areas like meditation, cognition, and genetics. The product seeks to reflect a full picture of wellness and help individuals live longer, more meaningful lives. In the future, the product will use AI to provide an overall wellness score and personalize the curriculum for users.
Rise in Robot-Assisted Surgeries
The first use of robotics in surgery occurred in the late 1980s. Fast forward to the modern-day, wherein robot-assisted surgery is evolving immensely with help from AI. While robotic surgeries only accounted for around 2% of total procedures in 2020, more rapid and widespread adoption is anticipated as a growing body of research points to improved patient outcomes.
Bolstered by AI technologies, robotic medical systems are giving surgeons a higher degree of flexibility, visibility, and control in complex procedures, in some cases even making new surgical options available. After being trained to perform the proper positioning and manipulation of instruments, surgical robots powered by AI let surgeons shift focus to the more complex parts of operations. AI robots can also complete tasks like measuring tissue size to save surgeons time and effort while boosting accuracy through reduced risk of human error.
As a result of enhanced surgical precision brought by AI innovations, patients are experiencing faster recovery times, less scarring, minimized risk of complications, and other valuable benefits.
Beyond these advantages, the projected shortage of 10 million healthcare professionals by 2030 is another unignorable contributing factor to the swift growth of the robot-assisted surgery market (valued at over $4 billion).
The Path to Achieving a Fully Integrated AI-Assisted Healthcare System
Undoubtedly, AI technology has compelling applications that can help usher in a new era of heightened healthcare system efficiency and all-around better medical care. But in order for the adoption of intelligent tools to be practical and widely applicable in healthcare settings, it’s critically important that organizations partner with reputable technology partners and invest in the highest quality technologies to prevent errors in high-stakes situations.
Before they can become widely used, AI-based technologies must earn the trust of medical experts and patients alike. Further, the necessary training must be completed to merge data- and machine-driven tools with existing systems. Finally, AI innovations must be built and implemented with regulatory compliance top of mind to avoid data leaks and preserve patient privacy.
Digital transformation of the healthcare industry will take more time, caution, and expertise than in some other verticals, but patients can rest assured that many organizations are already moving in the right direction.
Companies at the Forefront of AI Adoption in the Healthcare Landscape
As the astronomical growth forecast for the healthcare AI market demonstrates, innovative technologies are attracting a diverse array of investors. Here are a few examples of how companies are taking advantage of surging funding to help change the face of healthcare as we know it with AI:
- Using machine learning, real-time data, and optimization algorithms, Qventus delivers care operations automation solutions that help hospitals optimize and speed decision-making, thereby reducing costs and improving patient experiences.
- Houston-based Medical Informatics Corp. is harnessing the power of machine learning to collect and synthesize patient data across ICU devices, facilitating remote monitoring and virtual ICUs.
- QliqSOFT designed an AI-powered chatbot solution called Quincy with a focus on making the technology empathetic, individualized, and comprehensive. It allows patients to find a doctor, schedule appointments, monitor their vitals, securely share their personal health information, and more via a text messaging platform.
Intuitive Surgical’s da Vinci robotic-assisted surgical system and related technologies invented by the company have been used by surgeons to perform more than 8.5 million procedures globally.
Wizeline: On the Pulse of Data & AI Innovations
At Wizeline, we’re passionate about helping businesses and organizations of all sorts develop cutting-edge technology products and solutions. If you’re eager to embrace AI and machine learning in healthcare or another sphere, look no further than our talented technologists.
We believe in the power of automation to lead us to a brighter future while making businesses run smarter. Specializing in innovative engineering and product development, our teams have collaborated with a variety of healthcare companies to deliver intelligent apps and telehealth solutions. For instance, we designed and developed a telehealth platform for Rappi in Brazil and helped Fitz Frames create an app that measures kids’ faces for custom 3D-printed glasses.