Artificial intelligence, or AI, continues to make its mark on the world. As the advancement of AI systems continues, the technology is being used across many different industries, including AI in healthcare.
AI in healthcare is constantly changing the way patients experience care through data analysis, collection, and distribution while aiding healthcare professionals.
According to Fortune Business Insights, the AI market is valued at $27.73 billion and is projected to reach $266.92 billion by 2027. With all that growth, some might wonder if we are fully utilizing artificial intelligence in healthcare.
Keep reading to learn how artificial intelligence is revolutionizing the healthcare industry.
What Is AI?
AI isn’t science fiction and it isn’t far off into the future, either. Moreover, it doesn’t stop at self-driving cars. Artificial intelligence is defined as the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, especially computer systems.
AI focuses on deep learning, reasoning, and self-correction. AI is being utilized across industries including transportation, government, education, and even online shopping.
Strong AI is essentially the ability to do human-like tasks without human intervention, such as finding solutions to problems. On the other hand, narrow AI or weak AI is used for particular or specific tasks. You might not know it, but your iPhone friend, Siri, is an example of a narrow AI system.
So, how is AI being used in the healthcare industry? Let’s explore some examples below.
Move over surgeons, robots are here. That’s right, robotic-assisted surgery isn’t a dream of the future. Computer science defines AI research as the study of intelligent agents or a device that perceives the environment and then takes action to maximize the success of completing its goal.
Using AI research, robots can analyze medical records and then guide a surgeon’s arm in minimally-invasive procedures. These robots can inform medical professionals of new techniques using the study of data.
They can be used on the eye and even for heart surgery as they enhance control over critical aspects of the procedure. Minimally-invasive surgery means incisions are much smaller and performed using miniature surgical instruments.
A few examples of AI-assisted surgery include the da Vinci technique and the Heartlander robot. The da Vinci, with its surgical arms that have instruments attached, is considered to be the world’s most advanced surgical robot.
The da Vinci is able to provide a 3D view of the surgical site. From a seat at a computer console near the operating table, a surgeon controls the machine’s arms. Da Vinci allows the surgeon to work in small spaces and reduces the margin for error.
The Heartlander is a tiny mobile robot that can enter the chest through the sternum. Using the Heartlander, the damage done when accessing the heart using traditional methods is drastically reduced. Localized sensing, mapping, and treatment can be administered over the heart’s surface using one tiny robotic instrument instead of many.
Clinical Judgment and Diagnosis
Being able to diagnose a patient quickly and efficiently is the goal of public health. Several studies have shown that artificial intelligence systems can diagnose patients earlier and more efficiently than humans. Artificial neural networks are used to study large batches of data, and experts then draw from that data to make decisions such as which treatment plan to use.
Strong AI is a form of machine learning capable of reason and judgment. In healthcare, this means using AI to diagnose patients. While the science isn’t exactly there yet, it is making significant progress. AI can process large amounts of data, much more than humans are capable of. AI systems can process this data to determine the symptoms and causes of disease.
For example, a study at Stanford used an AI algorithm to detect skin cancer. The AI system was performing on par with humans in terms of diagnosis. Another study found that AI algorithms could listen to emergency calls to detect cardiac arrest more successfully than humans.
Artificial intelligence might save the healthcare industry billions of dollars by aiding with administration tasks and streamlining workflow. According to the American Hospital Association, hospitals spend an estimated $39 billion each year to comply with healthcare laws. Artificial intelligence-powered checklists automate patient privacy rules and remind hospital workers to wash their hands, among other tasks.
AI can also help with billing assistance in the healthcare industry. AI can study the costs of insurance coverage, as well as assign and sometimes negotiate insurance costs. For example, 1Desk programs facilitate the workflow between insurance companies, patients, and hospitals.
Another example of AI being used in administrative tasks is voice-to-text transcriptions. This application enables systems to order tests, write chart notes, and prescribe medications.
Another way AI can save the healthcare industry billions of dollars is through virtual nursing assistants. Virtual nursing assistants can provide patients with information 24/7. They can answer questions that patients might have between doctor visits, saving the patient unnecessary visits to the hospital. Some virtual nurses can even provide wellness checks.
One of the most time-consuming tasks for health care providers is image analysis or the extraction of data from digital images. AI can reduce that time by analyzing images faster than humans can. A study at MIT proved this after researchers created a machine-learning algorithm capable of scanning 3D images 1,000 times faster than a human.
Furthermore, AI applications in image analysis are set to make a real impact through telemedicine. Those who don’t have easy access to healthcare will be able to take a photo of their injury or medical emergency to receive care.
How Can I Get into the Field of AI?
If you are interested in artificial intelligence and the healthcare industry, a degree in artificial intelligence might be right for you. The first-ever undergraduate degree in artificial intelligence was offered by Carnegie Mellon University for the academic year 2018-2019.
Many other top universities offer an AI track through their computer science programs. For example, Caltech offers a track in machine learning and artificial intelligence.
You can expect the core classes for an AI degree or track to have plenty of computer science and math courses. In addition, there are AI-specific courses that include machine learning, decision-making and robotics, ethics and AI, and human-AI interaction.
If you are looking to further your education, a Master’s Degree in Informatics or Artificial Intelligence could be the correct route for you. Those with a Master’s Degree in Health Informatics strive to find the connection between patient care and technology.
If you are already in an information technology role and wish to enter the healthcare field or simply wish to advance your career, pursuing a Master’s Degree in Health Informatics could prove useful.
An artificial intelligence master’s degree program will teach you how to use advanced math, computer science, and engineering to create systems and machines capable of solving problems that would typically need natural intelligence. Potential careers for graduates with this degree include becoming an AI specialist, robotics engineer, or machine learning engineer.
Artificial intelligence is currently an in-demand field as there are not enough qualified professionals in the industry to meet current demand. This means a vast job market for those who wish to pursue a career in this ever-changing field.
Furthermore, the average annual salary is upwards of $140,000. AI jobs aren’t explicitly tracked on the US Labor Statistics site, however, computer science jobs are projected to grow by 15 percent by 2029.
Conclusion: AI Continues to Evolve in Healthcare
Artificial intelligence will only continue to grow worldwide, especially in the healthcare industry. While we have already witnessed impressive feats enabled by AI in healthcare, we can expect more to come.
Additionally, artificial intelligence is projected to save billions of dollars for the healthcare industry each year. By providing quicker diagnoses, more efficient billing and administrative processes, and aid during surgeries, artificial intelligence is making the patient experience more seamless and error-free.
However, despite all the progress, there is fear regarding robots working in our healthcare system. Many patients prefer human interaction and feel safer knowing that there won’t be machine errors. Furthermore, the privacy of data remains a concern when artificial intelligence is involved.
Despite the concerns surrounding AI in healthcare, the good might outweigh the bad. In an industry where time is of the essence and human lives are at stake, AI is a powerful tool that has the potential to save human lives each day all over the world.