The Future of Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare

Artificial intelligence in healthcare

Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey is a cult science fiction movie authored by the legendary Arthur C. Clarke. It features the “talking” computer, HAL, who eerily murders most of the human crew under its care. To this day, fans of the 1968 classic experience a gooseflesh moment when the astronaut-protagonist Dave Bowman requests HAL to open the pod bay doors to save his life and let him back into the spacecraft. HAL refuses with the chilling retort, “I’m sorry, Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that”.

HAL from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey on the left, with Amazon’s Alexa

It’s 2018, and seems surreal as the tech triumvirs Amazon, Apple and Google are gearing up to launch their big-budget ventures, the AI-fuelled voice assistants, coinciding with the 50th anniversary theatrical re-release of 2001: A Space Odyssey at Cannes helmed by none other than Christopher Nolan.

Now, we’ve got Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant striving to ease our lives by eliminating the mundane distractions. This way, we’re left with more time to do what actually matters. Conversational computers have resided in the collective imagination for so long (as dystopian as it may be), that we’ve come to a point of trusting them to take care of our banalities for us.

But, what does the future hold for us when these AI-powered voice bots enter the healthcare realm? Let’s do a round-up of the recently concluded Google I/O summit to know more.

Designing Voice Recognition: Future of Healthcare

The recently concluded Google I/O 2018 held at CA presented a review of the technological advancements achieved in the field of Artificial Intelligence.

The public announcements made at the event got everyone excited. Here’s the bucket of what Google I/O has this year:

Today everyone is thrilled about these advancements done by Google. However, how will these advancements impact the healthcare sector as such? This article will cover the impact AI is going to make on the healthcare industry.

The correlation between Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning and Deep Machine Learning can simply be understood by this Venn diagram:

Venn diagram

There is no doubt that Artificial Intelligence is going to change the future of Healthcare. Healthcare is poised to be the biggest sector to be impacted by these technological advancements. A major challenge that the healthcare industry is going to face is the handling of  Electronic Health Records (EHR). As mentioned in Google’s AI Blog, even a temperature measurement has different meaning if it is taken under the tongue, through the eardrum, or on the forehead. A patient taking the same medication from two different hospitals lands up having variations in the EMR. Consistency is needed through the EMR to make sure the patients are being dealt with utmost care and attention.

How artificial intelligence in healthcare is going to affect in future:
  • Handling the patient’s medical record can be time saving and seamless.
  • Analysis of medical reports can be done with greater speed and security.
  • AI is being used in apps like Babylon in the UK, which gives medical consultation based on personal medical history and common medical knowledge.
  • The AiCure app of the National Institute of Health can monitor the medication of a patient. The webcam of the smartphones integrated with AI confirms that patients are taking their prescriptions.
  • Formation of medicines via clinical trials takes years. The Ebola Virus Care program makes use of AI to scan existing medicines that could be recreated to fight against the disease. This time-saving method makes a difference that could end up saving thousands of lives.

Will your next doctor be a robot?

Technically speaking, no.

However, AI-fueled bots are sure to make a significant impact on how human doctors diagnose and treat patients. Over the past 50 years, the digital revolution has ushered in an era of freedom for medical practitioners globally. Doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and researchers are now left with more time to focus on higher-priority cognitive tasks and patient care. With artificial intelligence into the picture, this liberation is set to attain newer heights of innovation.

These latest leaps of technology-infused in AI programs have surged their ability meaningfully analyze tons of medical data. These programs have been designed to identify similarities and connections between previously unassociated data points by normalizing the contexts of the various points. This results in a simultaneous generation as well as testing of novel hypotheses covering a long list of healthcare situations.

The biggest advantage of AI technology is that it decodes huge amounts of complicated data in a relatively shorter time span – a task which would be overwhelming to humans. In the medical field, time is paramount, right up there with accuracy and precision – exactly what AI is projected to provide.

A case in point here is the Human Diagnosis Project (Human Dx), which combines machine learning along with real-life experiences provided by doctors. The project compiles data from 7500 doctors and 500 medical institutions across 80+ countries in a system designed to assist the medical community to make better informed clinical decisions. Decision-makers in the healthcare sector are also exploring the application of AI programs to areas like insurance queries, skin cancer diagnostics, lab analytics, and medical data analysis.

What does this mean for the designer community?

As these are early days, designers have the opportunity to shape how this relationship with AI plays out. We foresee interesting collaborations with various stakeholders and data scientists to mold meaningful experiences to delight users. As AI begins to propel, we must keep in mind that data will remain at the core of systems that learn. This amalgamation of data, learning algorithms, and UXD can maximize the reach and impact of experience design across sectors.

Healthcare research has been dabbling into artificial intelligence for several years. It’s just that Google’s I/O 2018 has shifted the spotlight on to AI like never before, pushing it into dinner table conversations today. However, as is the case with any developing technology across any industry, it is imperative that AI be seamlessly integrated into its functionality. A well-designed and well-implemented technology is one that people find useful without finding a semblance of AI in it. This way, our preconceived, dystopian opinions won’t end up hampering the much-required technological progress in any way.

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