“Healthcare is a prime candidate for technological change. AI is the most advanced and effective option for achieving the reforms.” - Melissa Thompson, Harcourt Health.
Evolving usage of technology in our daily lives is changing the healthcare industry to a great extent. Machine learning and Artificial Intelligence(AI) are already facilitating significant advancements to drive efficiencies and improve the quality of care. This transformation is promising to continue its significance in the coming years.
Every day, an enormous amount of data is produced and shared across industries, and healthcare is no different. It is not surprising that experts believe artificial intelligence can play a key role in healthcare advancements. There is an acute shortage of physicians and healthcare professionals the world over with the industry expected to fall short by 12.9 million by 2035 per a WHO report. Training physicians and healthcare providers is a demanding task that requires years of education and hands-on experience. Technological advancements and AI in particular can help bridge the gap and meet the growing demand. AI-based tools and applications aid healthcare professionals in improving productivity and reducing dependency on skill and energy requirements. This in turn could help expand the service base to attend to the needs of the wider section of population.
AI is gaining ground in healthcare. In 2012, there were fewer than 20 AI startups focused on healthcare but this number rose to 70 last year. Additionally, AI for healthcare sector is expected to drive overall AI market growth in the next six years, according to a Markets and Markets report. The overall AI market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 62.9 percent from 2016 to 2022, projected to reach $16.6 billion, and healthcare sector is expected to contribute significantly. “By 2025, AI systems could be involved in everything from population health management, to digital avatars capable of answering specific patient queries,” says Harpreet Singh Buttar, analyst at Frost & Sullivan.
AI tools can identify patterns in treating diseases thus guiding physicians in providing better care. Machine learning and AI algorithms offer guidance and recommendations based on data and outcomes of past treatments thus increasing survival rates. The solutions offered can be more effective as healthcare companies increase collaboration with technology companies. Be it data analytics or cognitive technologies, technology companies have been working towards transforming the way healthcare is offered. Whether it is IBM’s Watson Analytics or Philips’ Mobile Obstetrics Monitoring (MOM) software, or any other application / solution, AI is sure to disrupt the way healthcare is provided.
Robots can aid in enhancing human efforts thus offering better patient care. AI has thus taken the advisory role offering suggestions to healthcare providers, but is far from replacing human intervention. Recent developments suggest AI may bring in more surprises, but only time will tell if AI can turn to decision making surpassing human brain.
In the cover story, Nicola Pastorello, Lead, Data Science and Analytics Group of Deakin Software and Technology Innovation Lab describes how the vast majority of physicians use AI tools in the future for their clinical and research work.