How Artificial Intelligence will Revolutionize Healthcare

Diagnosis, treatment, research, patient compliance, and follow-up—all of these are going to be revolutionized by artificial intelligence (AI). Better treatment options and outcomes, and better results are on the way, but challenges remain. 

 

Robot that looks human.

In 2013 Jeopardy! fans were blown away as IBM’s supercomputer WATSON wiped the floor with longtime champion Ken Jennings. Now WATSON HEALTH AI is being used in 16 cancer institutes across the country, helping to diagnose and treat patients. Meanwhile Google, not to be outdone, has launched DeepMind, which recently earned the title world champion of the complex game of Go. Now, DeepMind Health will create innovative new apps for healthcare professionals alerting them to patient emergencies, and the risk of complications when considering possible treatment options. Progenitors say that someday, it should even be able to predict a patient’s needs down the pike.  


 

Other tech companies such as Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Apple, and Hitachi are also putting together AI programs for the healthcare field. Within the next five years, AI’s use in medicine is expected to increase tenfold. There are several areas where it is predicted to revolutionize healthcare, and places where it is already in use. In some cases, these advanced algorithms—all that AI is, has been proven to diagnose disease faster than humans.

Picture it, a patient comes in with terrible symptoms. The physician, a well-seasoned professional, has never seen anything like it before. In years gone by, in-depth research would take time, perhaps time the patient didn’t have. Today, a physician can log into Modernizing Medicine, find what rare condition it is, scroll through the treatment options available, and write a prescription in mere seconds. AI can help diagnose illness, offer novel treatment options, eliminate human error, and take care of all the repetitive tasks that clog up the system. These time saving measures mean more efficiency and reduced costs.

The healthcare-related information we possess today is astronomical. AI can help us sort through it. Modernizing Medicine collates data from 3,700 providers and over 14 million patient visits. Though impressive, future capabilities will dwarf this feat. IBM recently purchased Merge Healthcare Inc., a company with a repository of 30 billion medical images of every sort, which will be used to train WATSON to diagnose disease.

 

AI can also prevent recidivism, by helping follow cases and make further recommendations as time rolls on. At Vanderbilt University Medical Center and St. Jude’s Medical Center, both in Tennessee, electronic medical records are imbued with AI. A physician using them will occasionally get a pop-up explaining how certain genetic traits might affect their patient’s illness or how a new drug could improve their condition. Just by clicking the pop-up, a doctor can learn more, even prescribe a different medication. These e-medical records aren’t just saving time and space, they are actively helping to make patients better and doctors aware of the options and nuances before them. Some see applications in biomedicine too, personalizing treatment. Theoretically, AI can take a person’s genome and recommend treatment options that will serve them best, while limiting or even eliminating side effects.

In research, AI can streamline the selection process of drug development to be sure investigators are studying those which show the most promise, and help identify previously undiscovered pathways that could lead to new treatments and therapies. Treatment is one thing, compliance another. That’s why AICure contacts patients to ensure they are taking their medicine and doing so properly, helping patients manage their own treatment and care.

AI is expected to be a helpful tool. Rather than replace doctors, it should advance their capabilities and cover blind spots. That is, if we get the I, Robot future rather than the Terminator hellscape—as Stephen Hawking and others have warned. Chances are, it will be a mix of both, and far less dramatic. Though these technologies promise much, dovetailing them into our current healthcare system and training doctors and other medical professionals to use them remains a challenge. Also, as AI advances, we are bound to have a few hiccups along the way.

To learn more about WATSON click here: 

Malcolm Gladwell live | How to re-examine everything you know

Join Radiolab's Latif Nasser at 1pm ET on Monday as he chats with Malcolm Gladwell live on Big Think.

Big Think LIVE

Add event to your calendar

AppleGoogleOffice 365OutlookOutlook.comYahoo


Keep reading Show less

Is this the world map of the future?

A vertical map might better represent a world dominated by China and determined by shipping routes across the iceless Arctic.

Chinese world map focusing on the Arctic Passage

Strange Maps
  • Europe has dominated cartography for so long that its central place on the world map seems normal.
  • However, as the economic centre of gravity shifts east and the climate warms up, tomorrow's map may be very different.
  • Focusing on both China and Arctic shipping lanes, this vertical representation could be the world map of the future.
Keep reading Show less

Study: Private prisons result in more inmates, longer sentences

The Labour Economics study suggests two potential reasons for the increase: corruption and increased capacity.

Politics & Current Affairs
  • After adopting strict sentencing laws in the '80s and '90s, many states have turned to for-profit prisons to handle growing prison populations.
  • A new study in Labour Economics found that privately-run prisons correlate with a rise in incarceration rates and sentence lengths.
  • While evidence is mixed, private prisons do not appear to improve recidivism or cost less than state-run facilities.
  • Keep reading Show less

    The art of asking the right questions

    What exactly does "questions are the new answers" mean?

    Videos
    • Traditionally, intelligence has been viewed as having all the answers. When it comes to being innovative and forward-thinking, it turns out that being able to ask the right questions is an equally valuable skill.
    • The difference between the right and wrong questions is not simply in the level of difficulty. In this video, geobiologist Hope Jahren, journalist Warren Berger, experimental philosopher Jonathon Keats, and investor Tim Ferriss discuss the power of creativity and the merit in asking naive and even "dumb" questions.
    • "Very often the dumb question that is sitting right there that no one seems to be asking is the smartest question you can ask," Ferriss says, adding that "not only is it the smartest, most incisive, but if you want to ask it and you're reasonably smart, I guarantee you there are other people who want to ask it but are just embarrassed to do so."
    Mind & Brain

    Study links 'sun-seeking behavior' to genes involved in addiction

    A large-scale study from King's College London explores the link between genetics and sun-seeking behaviors.

    Scroll down to load more…
    Quantcast