How Can AI Help Harness Healthcare Data Explosion

Aman Chaurasia

Artificial intelligence has been making inroads into the healthcare for a few years now and it has been able to revolutionize the way the care is delivered. According to the experts, adoption of artificial intelligence in healthcare will continue to rise. A report published by Frost & Sullivan in 2016 estimated that the healthcare AI market might grow by 40% and reach $6.7 billion by 2021.

Churning out massive volumes of imaging, lab and pathology reports, prescriptions, medication information etc. ceaselessly, the healthcare industry is generating a copious amount of data each day. As the application of internet of things (IoT) finds its way to the lives of more people through mobile devices and wearables, the flow of this data is only going to increase. This huge pool of scattered data or big data holds an enormous potential to transform the face of healthcare for better. However, it is fair to say that would not be possible to process that size of information with human capacity alone. The good news is that artificial intelligence is performing that job with an impressive efficiency. It can process and analyze a massive amount of patient health data in minutes. This data may include text, speech, graphics, and videos. Based on this analysis, healthcare workflows can be streamlined and clinical decisions can be optimized.

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Let us take a look at the areas where AI is leveraging this huge, unorganized and scattered data and how it is face-lifting the healthcare sector thereby.

Artificial Intelligence has the power to revamp the healthcare value chain.

For better diagnosis and more accurate treatment plan for a specific patient, healthcare providers often have to research uncountable pages of research papers to find similar medical cases which include symptoms, test results, courses of treatment, nature of medication etc.. With human efforts, this can easily take weeks or months, depending on the number of researchers. That is why many providers are moving to cognitive systems which can perform this job in minutes and share the findings with the clinicians. This makes way for more effective diagnoses and thus more precise treatment plans.

It is not only limited to this. AI can also analyze the lab result data of the patients and send them alerts on medications, follow-ups etc.

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AI can help in providing personalized care to the patients.

Electronic medical records (EMR) and electronic health records (EHRs) are increasingly finding an embrace from the healthcare organizations around the world. Leveraging the machine learning capabilities, AI can look at the complete medical profile of the patient through EMRs and EHRs and identify all the symptoms and health issues with a precision. Based on that data, it enables the medical professionals to surmise the risks to the health of the patient. When they have a clearer understanding of the patient’s health, they can then select the most appropriate course of treatment for the patient. Clearly, artificial intelligence, this way, helps in optimizing treatment, care, and patient experience.

It can facilitate optimization of drug discovery and manufacturing.

AI has been a transformation in the field of drug discovery, in early stages, in particular. The UK Royal Society believes that the machine learning has a wide scope of application in the pharmaceutical sector due to its ability to detect patterns in various big pools of healthcare data. It can process a range of vast datasets to identify patterns pertaining to the biological factors to pre-screen the drug compounds and predicts its success probability. Besides, it can also enable drug manufacturers to optimize their processes and bring down the overall cost and time required for the entire manufacturing process. This, once done, can boost the reproducibility of drugs. Besides, the patients will be able to obtain cheaper yet more effective drugs.

Robotics is a revolutionary introduction in the healthcare industry.

Robotics is yet another revolutionary boon of artificial intelligence in the medical field which utilizes machine learning abilities and brings a humanly-impossible level of accuracy. Its application is on the rise in surgeries. It can refer to pre-operation health profile of the patient, real-time surgery metrics and previous successful cases to bring more accuracy to the surgical procedures.   

Besides, it can also free the medical professionals of multiple routine tasks, thus leaving them more time to invest in more strategic responsibilities. Thus, AI not only boosts the productivity of a healthcare organization but also makes its operations more efficient.

In addition to bringing down the time and energy required in medical tests and experiments, one of its immense contributions in this area is that according to an analysis by Accenture, it reduces the length of stay by as much as 21%.

Seamless care is possible–through AI.

AI is reshaping the way we monitor our health and get an ailment diagnosed. Traditionally, the care has been dependent on when a patient shows some symptoms of illness upon diagnosis or when he/she actually falls ill. AI is bringing the dawn of a new medical age where with the help of smartphones, wearable devices and other means of collecting health data in real-time, the delivery of care is becoming seamless and proactive rather than reactive. It is obvious that the success rate of a treatment would be higher if a health issue can be detected at an early stage. So, with the constant flow of health information, it can be identified and ascertained when and what level of care a patient requires. Evidently, AI has redefined the role of a clinician.

It can fight off threats to public health.

Artificial intelligence can bring in significant insights in the field of medical research. It can collect and interpret huge scattered real-time data from satellites, web, social media and other virtual sources. This data can be used to get an elucidated picture of the overall public health of a certain geography. Healthcare professionals then, again using AI, analyze it to understand the signs of an imminent or probable epidemic. This can help the healthcare organizations prevent unforeseen threats to the public health. Particularly, the magnitude of this technological help will be even bigger in regions where the healthcare facilities are not up to the mark.

Healthcare industry generates lots and lots of data every day and all this data contains the key for the industry to unlock an unprecedented level of treatment and care. This data is quite dynamic and its magnitude is such that required advanced systems to interpret it well and present that key to the healthcare professionals and artificial intelligence is doing that job quite well.

Realizing the possibilities AI can create in the medical field, the first movers have already started to pace up and educate themselves on big data, analytics, machine learning and cognitive technologies. Several big healthcare organizations that have taken a cue from what all AI has been doing in the industry have started to invest in upgrading their skills and infrastructure. The industry is also witnessing frequent activities such as events and marketing organized around AI transformation.

There is no denying that AI is bringing the future of healthcare closer. It will not be too long before most of the healthcare businesses will be seen adopting AI-enable models to enhance the standard of care. What is going to follow is only a matter of time and will be worth watching. But one this thing is for sure–AI is here to stay!

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about the author

Aman Chaurasia

Aman is a Digital Marketing Executive at TechJini. He frequently writes blogs on IoT, Automation and Digital Transformation.