The Doctor’s Superhero: How AI Can Change Healthcare As We Know It

By: Divya Kilikar

Published On: August 17, 2018

We look at the increase of AI in healthcare and how it can change the course of medicine in the years to come...

When you think of artificial intelligence in healthcare, what’s the first picture that comes to your mind? Is it maybe a futuristic looking robot that has replaced the doctor and delivers high-precision, high-speed treatment?

If yes, you’re not that far off. But the world of healthcare AI is so much broader. It isn’t just about precision or speed or stealing a doctor’s job.

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Let’s look at what exactly AI does (and could do) for the healthcare industry.

It helps us do a better job of prevention

Who doesn’t have a wearable these days? If you’re new to the concept of wearables, here’s a short story to sell you the idea: When Sayan suffered a spinal cord injury, doctors said he would need long-term treatment and medication. His physical activity was also limited, of course. The injury took a toll on his body and he began gaining weight rapidly. After his recovery,he decided it was time to find a fitness regime that could help him get back in shape.

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And many fitness bloggers will tell you; there isn’t a better coach to help you take control of your life than a wearable! Thanks to a blogger-verified gadget, Sayan was able to structure a customized fitness regime to help him reach his body goals in no time. Through mobile applications, AI is slowly paving the way to reduce the risk of contracting illnesses by helping us get in control of our well-being. This is done by analyzing our daily patterns (and often, even predicting future patterns) and encouraging healthier behaviour. AI-enabled apps can tell us what nutrients we’re lacking and what kind of workout we need. Here are 3 wearables we find interesting:

Nadi X: What if your yoga pants could teach you yoga? Skip the expensive yoga classes and invest in Nadi X yoga pants! They come with sensors that help you improve your form and make the best of your workout.

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Foci: Nearly everybody needs this one today: a gadget that helps you focus! Created by TinyLogics, Foci is a tiny clip-like gadget that you can tuck into your pants. It analyzes your breathing patterns to understand your cognitive state. This means that it can tell when you’re stressed, panicked, worried or distracted. It comes with a “mind coach” that helps you calm down and focus.

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QardioCore: Heart irregularities are difficult to track. Many patients who suffer a stroke never learn what the cause was unless they have another stroke while they’re at the hospital, being monitored with electrode patches on his chest. When Marco’s dad suffered a stroke, he was inspired to create QardioCore, a belt you can simply strap around your chest to monitor your heart on the go.

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It aids in earlier and more accurate detection of illnesses

This study put dermatologists at the ultimate test of their career. It was either them or the robots! The test found that while dermatologists could diagnose skin cancer with 86% accuracy, AI-enabled machinery outdid them by diagnosing with 95% accuracy.

In a similar case, according to the American Cancer Society, 50% of healthy women who take mammograms end up with inaccurate results and are told they have cancer. They then end up losing money on expensive biopsy tests, which then reveal the true diagnosis. AI now helps avoid such situations by making accurate diagnoses before women resort to a biopsy.

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AI hasn’t reached even a major part of its potential yet, but it is already taking quite a heavy load off doctors. AI-enabled technology is helping doctors diagnose illnesses like cancer much earlier and also make a more accurate diagnosis. Today, AI tests are able to diagnose women with breast cancer with 99% accuracy and 30 times faster than the mammogram test. Read up on these AI technologies that are changing healthcare:

Ultromics: Developed by researchers at John Radcliffe Hospital, England, Ultromics is the new expert on diagnosing heart diseases. Most hospitals use cardiograms to diagnose heart disease. At least 40 million are performed in the US alone. But the problem with cardiograms is that they rely on doctors to assess the images produced manually to make the diagnosis. As a result, diagnoses are accurate only 80% of the time. Ultromics uses machines to assess ultrasounds instead and increases accuracy by 90%.

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Optellum: Created with a dream to diagnose and cure every lung cancer patient in the early stages, Optellum is the world’s first software to make personalized lung cancer diagnoses based on AI technology. The company’s CTO told BBC that the software can make as many as 4000 diagnoses earlier than doctors can in a single year.

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It helps doctors deliver more effective treatment

In the 1880s, the average human lifespan was around 40 years. With the onset of hygienic practices, antibiotics, research on preventive measures and phenomenal advancement in medical technology, today, the average human lifespan is 75 years. Now the vision, rather than lengthening it further, is to make sure every human gets to 75. AI could be our answer, thanks to its key factor: affordability

Accenture investigated the potential value of AI healthcare in the US and found that AI medical technologies could create annual savings of up to a whopping US $150 billion by 2026! Moreover, AI is much more efficient in terms of planning a personalized treatment plan and administering highly precise, speedy and effective treatment. And the most important pro here is that AI eliminates the risk imposed by any human bias or negligence.

AI technology is also working towards safety; cybersecurity, fraud detection and image storage application are expected to reach a collective value of US $22 billion by 2026. AI will be solving many other issues that plague healthcare as well. Virtual nursing assistants will address the issue of pressure caused by medical labour shortage. Problems caused by medical errors and incorrect dosages will be taken care of.

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Robot-assisted surgery is the most invested technology of all, with a potential value of US $44 billion. This is particularly useful in microsurgeries that cannot be performed with accuracy by human hands. This year, the world’s first robot-assisted spinal surgery was successfully performed in May by doctors at UPenn. 

AI and healthcare: the Indian scenario

CIS’s report on AI and healthcare in India revealed, that the industry could add up to US $957 billion by 2035. In 2017, at least 16 Indian IT healthcare companies received major funding. State governments provide support to start-ups as well. The kind of technology Indian companies are working to develop is the same as that in the west - drug discovery, robot-assisted surgery, diagnosis technology and so on. Here are 3 startups to keep an eye on:

Niramai

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Founded in 2016, Niramai’s founders were appalled by the staggering stats on breast cancer and were inspired to find an accurate, pain-free portable software to diagnose the disease in its earliest stages, rather than counting on traditional self-screening methods. Based in Bengaluru, the low-cost handheld device is now used in rural areas, clinics, health camps, hospitals and even at home.

Advancells

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The founders of Advancells believe that regenerative medicine is the next big thing in healthcare. According to them, our bodies contain the key to curing any disease, that human stem cells can cure most illnesses that affect us. Advancells works to combine stem cell with augmented and supplementary natural therapy through AI.

AddressHealth

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This Bengaluru-based startup uses AI-enabled technology to bring high-quality check-ups to children in schools, covering every aspect of a child’s health, head to toe: dentistry, visual, audio, anthropometry (body mass and measurements) and more.

AI beyond healthcare

The most interesting thing about AI is that we’re just starting to discover the extent of its potential. AI isn’t just limited to making medication better, or improving a doctor’s eye for symptoms. We now know that it can change the face of healthcare as we know it, right from influencing our lifestyles, to the quality of our diets and workout, to the way doctors store and analyze a patient’s health data and so on. 

AI can also widen opportunities in the world of medical research by streamlining drug discovery and manufacturing. It can also shorten the journey of the drug from the research lab to the patient, which is an average of 12 years. Out of 5000 drugs we make, only 1 makes it to a patient after tests. AI technology can make research cheaper and quicker.

It can also change the way we train our doctors by putting them through naturalistic simulations and drawing instantly on a large database of scenarios and responses in a way humans simply cannot. Moreover, it increases accessibility of training by making it available on any smartphone or laptop.

We suggest you also read: 

Commonly Googled Health Questions Answered By Doctors

"Do I Have Cancer?" And Other Commonly Googled Cancer Questions

Are you excited for what AI has in store for us in the future? Let us know! Shoot an email to engage@impactguru.com!


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