Technology is changing healthcare, Artificial Intelligence will change healthcare in few years. Data in general equals too many possibilities, data organised and specific equals fewer and far more accurate options. Over the past decades, many new ways of collecting and storing health data have been implemented in our healthcare system, this of course highly valuable. However, without any method for interlinking or combining, this data is of no use.
The amount of stored patient data has increased with 700% between 2010 and 2015, 91% of that data is unstructured. This data resides outside of an organised database such as lab records or electronic health records, making it impossible for payers, care providers and patients to tap into its potential. However, if we would be able to tap into this data we could accelerate healthcare transformation, making it more efficient and cost-effective.
Therefore, Artificial intelligence (AI) is seen as the solution to the problem. With its capability to draw “intelligence” from the vast amounts of raw data, located in different sources, it has healthcare executives worldwide supporting it. Globally, 63% of healthcare executives are already investing in AI technologies and 74% are planning to do so as well.
A PwC study found that healthcare is most likely to derive some of the biggest gains through AI. It would increase productivity, enhance the quality and give the space to the increased consumption.
The possibilities would be endless, especially with regards to diagnostics. It could for example:
- “help detect small variations within patients’ health data and comparing variations among similar patients
- identify potential pandemics early and tracking the incidence of diseases to help prevent and contain their spread
- enhance imaging diagnostics in radiology and pathology.”– (Brian Williams, 2017)
Some of these AI powered diagnostic tools but also preventive tools are already seen in the market. Although not yet wide spread it does display the potential of AI driven devices in healthcare. Examples are smartphones connected to a device which can make Electrocardiograms (ECG) and give results instantly or online services which can diagnose skins, rashes and moles on the basis of a digital photo.
Imagine, in the near future patients would not have to see a doctor to diagnose them or give them advice, AI driven devices can take over that role and doctors would just have to verify saving immense amounts of time and costs.
“According to HRI’s 2015 clinician survey, 42% of US doctors say they are willing to prescribe medications based on the results of consumer-operated diagnostic technologies.”– (Brian Williams, 2017)
But how do health consumers feel about being treated by their smartphone rather than by an actual doctor. A recent study of 12.000 people across 12 countries states that the majority is willing to substitute the care given by human clinicians by care given by AI digital health or ehealth robots.
Thus, AI can safe vast amounts of cost and increase efficiency throughout our healthcare system. Moreover, healthcare executives, clinicians and patients are all willing to try and are seeing its potential. Does this mean that AI is our health future?
Yes, I think it is inevitable. Studies are already predicting that the AI market is in for massive growth. Between 2014 and 2021 a 40% increase in the market of AI in healthcare is expected, growing from $633.8 million to $6.66 billion.
However, while the potential is surely there, there are still many unknowns and issues to be solved before our health AI future can reach its full potential. New systems and business models will need to be implemented and large investments are needed to make everything happen.
I think the below sums it all up…
“The road toward the vision of a self-serve, consumer-directed, personalized healthcare delivery model powered by artificial intelligence will likely be repeatedly disrupted by unexpected stops and starts. But, to more and more clinicians and technologists on the leading edge of healthcare IT development, it’s just a matter of time.” – (Brian Williams, 2017)
And that it is, we will need to work hard, but our AI healthcare future is soon to be there!
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