How are artificial intelligence and machine learning used in healthcare?

What are the uses of artificial intelligence in the healthcare sector?

Artificial intelligence is frequently hailed as the next big thing in medicine, with the promise of improving the efficiency, affordability, and personalization of healthcare.  

 

However, most AI applications in healthcare have thus far supported business as usual, incrementally improving the system and increasing profits for insurers, hospitals, and pharmaceutical firms without fundamentally altering the patient experience.

 


We're losing out on AI's transformative potential to alter our healthcare system by treating patients directly and putting them back at the center of care.

 

 Companies like Nuance Communications, which Microsoft bought for roughly $20 billion earlier this year, provide AI technologies that assist doctors in producing and maintaining electronic medical records while also allowing healthcare organizations and insurers to make better use of data.


However, only a small percentage of patients benefit directly from these systems. 

 

"We've spent 36 billion dollars to develop electronic medical records, and that information is locked in your doctor's computer today," Seema Verma, the former head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).


What if we used the same machine learning technology that Nuance and others utilize and applied it to assisting patients in accessing and understanding their health data? 

 

For example, AI may give an annotated transcript of each doctor's visit and extract information such as treatment plans, prescription regimes, and upcoming visits. 

It might even keep track of symptoms and offer nudges and incentives to encourage patients to stay to their treatment regimens. 




Patients may use AI technologies like these to have more control over their health. 

 

According to the research, patients who had access to their doctors' notes felt more in charge of their treatment, and over 60% were better at sticking to their prescription regimens, according to the research. 

 

According to the study, patients, on the whole, desire more help understanding their health, considering treatment options, and making key medical decisions. 

 

In an era when doctors have little time to spend with patients, AI can fill a critical vacuum by acting as a sidekick who assists patients in navigating the system and managing their treatment.

 

A few firms are beginning to employ artificial intelligence to make healthcare more accessible to people, but they are still in the minority. 

 

Curia Health and Babylon integrate AI into their platforms to let people get primary care and interact with physicians from the comfort of their own homes. 

 

Ada provides patient-monitoring and symptom-tracking software that is powered by AI and clinical research. 

 

Abridge utilizes artificial intelligence to help people record, comprehend, and follow up on their doctor visits. 

 

Woebot Health has a therapist chatbot that may give emotional support and keep track of your mental health. According to research, patients may form and sustain a relationship with the Woebot that is equivalent to that of a human therapist.

 

These businesses provide a compelling example of what AI can accomplish. 

More chances to employ technology to put patients in the driver's seat should be sought by healthcare developers. 

 


According to research, patients who are engaged and empowered are happier with their treatment and are more aware of and interested in controlling their health. This results in better health outcomes.

 

Patient participation also makes doctors' work simpler and has the potential to save healthcare costs by improving preventative care, improving adherence to treatment regimens, and reducing the use of needless, costly treatments.


Now is the moment to begin developing AI systems that prioritize patients. 

The pandemic spurred a renewed interest in telehealth, allowing people to manage their health from the comfort of their own homes. 

 

Apps for healthcare and wearable gadgets such as the Fitbit and Apple Watch are becoming increasingly popular, generating a flow of useful data. 

 

Patients can benefit from AI-powered solutions to make sense of their healthcare data as they have more channels for managing their health and access to more of it.

 

To get there, health-tech developers must shift their perspectives on what AI can do in medicine. 

 

They should participate in user-centered design that is driven by patient demands, and they should look into novel ways to put AI to work for patients (while also recognizing the sensitive nature of health data). 

 

Patients should be involved in the definition of issues and the development of instruments to tackle them.

 

 None of this is feasible until patients have access to their own health data. Patients' rights to their medical data are increasingly being protected by federal bodies such as CMS and patient organizations such as OpenNotes. 


However, providers, hospitals, and EMR systems must be encouraged or required to exchange data in a clean format that can be shared and utilized across platforms (with the patient's agreement, of course). 

 

Giving individuals access to their data ensures that the money spent digitizing health records is used to benefit patients rather than systems.


We also need to develop mechanisms for ensuring AI tools are safe and effective and can do what their creators claim they can. 

 

Earlier this year, the FDA released its first plan for how it might regulate AI-based products. Existing frameworks for approving medical device hardware may not work well for AI software, but we will need some way to ensure that AI systems are safe without throttling innovation. 

 

We also need to educate patients so they can decide which AI systems to trust, understand how to use these products, and be clear on what AI tools can and can’t do.

 

Rather than utilizing technology to advance business, as usual, AI allows us to give individuals more control over their health. 

 

Our medical system's ultimate objective is to enhance patients' health as effectively as possible, so let's put them back in the spotlight while we create AI for healthcare.

 

Sandeep Konam is the co-founder and CTO of Abridge, a firm that employs artificial intelligence to help people remain on top of their health. 

 

Professor Glyn Elwyn runs the Coproduction Laboratory at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, where he is a leader in the field of shared decision-making between patients and physicians.

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