Technology, Health Care Guides

The Potential of AI to Transform Healthcare

06/17/2022

No longer relegated to the realm of science fiction, artificial intelligence (AI) is here and transforming experiences across multiple industries, including healthcare. While it won’t replace flesh-and-blood medical professionals in the foreseeable future, advances in AI are already having a significant impact on the way providers diagnose and treat patients, as well as patient outcomes. Here’s how. 

 

Intelligent Decision Making 

In its simplest terms, AI refers to systems and machines that mimic human intelligence to complete tasks typically performed by people. As related to healthcare, that can include the collection and analysis of massive quantities of patient and health data. 

AI puts this patient data in the hands of providers, enabling them to make better-informed decisions around diagnosis, treatment planning, and health management. Providers can also leverage AI to identify patterns and trends in health data, and then they can act accordingly. For example, a nurse can use AI to make a data-based determination about how many days a patient who has undergone a specific procedure should remain in the hospital to prevent readmission1.  

 

AI Drives Diagnostic Accuracies 

Armed with unprecedented intelligence, providers are also able to give more accurate diagnosis and reduce human errors that can impact patient outcomes. For instance, AI has been used to identify potentially cancerous bruises in radiology images by detecting anomalies that are often missed by the human eye2. In another example, Stanford Thrun Lab graduates developed an AI algorithm that recognizes and distinguishes the difference between deadly malignant carcinoma skin cancer and the benign and harmless keratosis skin condition2.  

In both cases, the use of AI helps doctors diagnose patients more accurately, treat diseases earlier, and potentially save lives.  

 

Faster Access to Treatment 

AI drives efficiencies across the healthcare experience, with improved access to medical care, shorter wait times, and faster diagnosis and treatment planning. This means patients can get the care they need quickly. AI can also perform tasks at a much higher speed than human medical professionals, which in turn can allow more patients to receive the diagnosis and treatment they need, quicker. Radiologists, for example, can examine around 50 images a day, while AI can evaluate millions of images in mere hours2. 

 

Early Intervention and Prevention 

AI applications are capable of “learning” as well; the more information and data it collects and analyzes, the smarter AI gets. This machine learning makes AI an effective tool for helping detect diseases in their earliest stages — when they’re often more treatable — as well as predict the outcome of specific treatments2. An AI application created by researchers at the University of Nottingham has the ability to predict cardiac events before they even happen, allowing providers to take action to prevent a life-threatening incident and treat the underlying condition2.  

 

AI for Wellness  

AI has promising implications for wellness programs, as well. Chatbots, for example, are an emerging trend in healthcare. An AI-powered computer program that uses natural language processing to understand and respond to user questions, chatbots are increasingly used to help people quit smoking, manage mental health conditions like depression, treat substance use disorders, control weight, and adopt health lifestyle habits2. AI enables the chatbot to interact with users, whenever they have a question or concern, or need support. 

 

Predictive and Precision Medicine 

With its capacity to collect and mine massive amounts of genetic, social, clinical, lifestyle, and preference data across wide swaths of people, AI is propelling precision medicine that can predict the health conditions and outcomes not only for individual patients, but for entire populations3. 

By analyzing factors such as birthplace, diet, workplace, local air pollution levels, access to safe housing, income levels, and more, AI can help healthcare systems determine a patient or community’s health risks and take proactive measures to reduce the impact3. To date, AI has been used in predictive and precision medicine to reduce the rates of diabetes, congestive heart failure, and chronic obstructive heart disease in at-risk communities3. 

 

AI Benefits Providers, Too 

Over the course of the pandemic, one in five healthcare workers left their jobs — many citing overwork and burnout as the key reason for leaving4. By 2030, experts predict a shortfall of 9.9 million physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals around the world, placing added pressure on an already over-burdened healthcare workforce5. 

AI offers a potential solution to the strain on and drain of healthcare talent. Consider this: up to 70% of healthcare practitioners’ time is spent on administrative tasks5. By automating much of those tasks, AI can free up providers to spend more time on the patient care they’re passionate about. With a higher level of job satisfaction, providers may experience less burnout and be more likely to stay at their jobs5. By supplementing the medical services provided by human practitioners, AI can also help close the healthcare delivery gap caused by healthcare worker shortages5. 


The transformative potential of AI is still evolving, and the future applications of artificial intelligence are only just beginning to take shape. Even with the promise of AI to improve access, speed, and accuracy of medical care, there remains a place for humans in healthcare and wellness. 

Our humans are here and ready to help you understand and navigate the changing landscape of healthcare. Give us a call with your questions at (800) 467-4898.  

 

  1. https://www.himss.org/resources/ai-healthcare-how-its-changing-industry
  2. https://inoxoft.com/blog/the-impact-of-artificial-intelligence-in-healthcare/
  3. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/01/future-of-artificial-intelligence-healthcare-delivery/
  4. https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/workforce/about-1-in-5-healthcare-workers-have-left-medicine-since-the-pandemic-began-here-s-why.html
  5. https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/healthcare-systems-and-services/our-insights/transforming-healthcare-with-ai

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