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What can we expect from AI in healthcare?

AI, or Artificial Intelligence, has become part of our daily lives. From smartphones to manufacturing, AI has taken over repetitive tasks and made different areas of industry easier.

Healthcare is a huge industry globally, with an estimated worth of $8.47 trillion by 2027. With the introduction of AI, it is thought that hospitals and healthcare settings will be able to focus on patients more than paperwork and administration. Here are some ways AI may be implemented into our healthcare system.

Diagnosing illnesses

AI developers have already begun to test whether algorithms can help to detect and diagnose certain illnesses.

Heart failure affects 1 in 100 people, so it makes up a large part of the diagnostic and care systems. A ‘smart’ stethoscope has been developed which, using AI, can detect heart disease. Researchers used a normal stethoscope with additional sensors to record an ECG. A computer with the AI algorithm programmed in then analysed the ECG and correctly identified heart disease patients 9 out of 10 times. The ultimate aim is to have these available to GPs so they can diagnose heart disease in primary care rather than refer patients.

Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer fatality in the UK. Recent reports have found that AI can identify whether lung nodes seen on a CT scan are cancerous or not. It was found that AI was more accurate than the existing Brock score which is used at the moment.

Hospital management

Hospital management is a huge job with many different departments requiring budgetary changes, staffing and even complaint resolution.

AI could be implemented to take care of some of the organisational tasks, such as scheduling operating theatres. By having an efficient schedule, operations can be scheduled appropriately without wasted time. It also prevents expensive equipment from sitting around idly, not being used.

This same system could also be used for scheduling route scans such as MRIs or CTs. Again, this would maximise the efficiency of the system, allowing more patients to be seen and reducing wait times.

As with any system that has access to patient information, it should be ethically tested. Healthcare lawyers will be able to advise hospitals whether they are doing enough to keep that information secure.

Personalised care and treatment

There are so many different medications on the market for a whole host of diseases with each affecting patients differently based on the individual. AI can help doctors assess which drug combinations will benefit their patients best in as little as 12 hours.

When this AI algorithm was put to the test with lung cancer patients it predicted individual drug responses to a higher level of accuracy than current genetic predictions. It was also able to identify new combinations which may work effectively.

Although this was a small study it does show how AI can be used in this capacity. AI could be tested in drug combinations for other illnesses, freeing up doctors’ time and making the patient journey smoother and faster.

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