With the advances in artificial intelligence changing every industry from the financial to the marketing one, we can expect the technology to impact healthcare and how we use it to treat patients. With the use of artificial intelligence, we can hope that human medical error will drop significantly and systems will become more agile and responsive to population and behaviour trends ahead of service impact. We can also expect earlier diagnoses to be made for patients,  a more personalised conversation about risk and prevention and in some conditions specific tailoring of treatment plans and medication to achieve the greatest positive outcome potential.

Smarter and Faster Diagnostics

The earlier a condition or disease is found, the better it is for the patient. With early detection, they will be able to obtain the treatment they need before it progresses. Artificial intelligence with deep learning capability can shift from images from medical scans and learn what to look out for. It can differentiate between healthy and unhealthy cells at speed and process technical diagnostic data faster than the human eye. With the help of the technology, doctors will be alerted to areas they should examine more deeply and also provide more confident reassurance to those not at risk. This will help on and off the surgical table and potential reduce the need for medical intervention. This is especially helpful for patients that have a history of certain medical conditions and especially beneficial to detect cancer in its early stages.

Shift To Virtual Medical Help

There is already a growing popular trend to take control of personal health and wellbeing through various wearable technology, whether they use a Fitbit or an iPhone watch to help. You can expect that AI is going to further this and potentially accelerate this trend as AI can bridge and blend data from apps and tech to create a more holistic picture of risk and behaviour.

The technology will begin to incorporate more features that can be tailored to the person. As the internet of things evolves to the point at which wearable tech is integrated almost unconsciously into our lives, the AI can triangulate this to suggest workout routines or diets. It can also be used to remind patients to take their medication and will be smart enough to reorder it when they run low. There are already trials of AI using this data from our mobile phones to register when people with depression are starting to withdraw, using the warning signals of deteriorating sleep, lack of social contact through the phone and increasing physical activity to trigger alert algorithms and interact with the user to risk assess at a basic level if a third party needs to be alerted as well.

Another important feature that will be added is the ability to chat with virtual doctors. Instead of scheduling an appointment by phone, you can utilize your wearable technology to speak with virtual assistants and doctors. You can list symptoms and issues, and potentially the AI technology could help diagnose you.

Electronic Health Records

When doctors review clinical documentation from a computer, they have to ensure that they don’t miss significant previous medical conditions or allergies. Through the use of AI, patient documents can be sifted through and important aspects highlighted for the doctor’s information. The technology will make it easier to store and access information. Patients will no longer need to worry about being given medication they would react to because the system will prevent it being prescribed without specific clinician override.

At a macro level the AI’s will be able to swim across the data lake of patient information and identify patterns of risk and demand at a population level to inform service design and development. This concept of population healthcare management is already starting to emerging in the UK and USA and has huge potential for the future to create more agile healthcare systems that can flex not just services but also training and workforce mix to match demand.

The healthcare industry has seen lots of advancements from virtual doctor visits to technology that can register your heartbeat. Artificial intelligence will change the future. But these changes don’t come without risks and although AI can process data accurately and efficiently it can’t provide empathy or creativity and these remain at the heart of the art of the medicine which is as fundamental as the science when it comes to patient care.

AI has huge potential, but it is not without risk. What do you hope to see change with it?