Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications in data mining and analytics are bringing a Big Data revolution to healthcare. Medicine is not like most other professions; when things go wrong or communications cross, patients are permanently injured or killed. Nobody in the healthcare industry wants that of course, but the complexities of combining the skills and knowledge of physicians with the demands of service delivery are immense. These considerations must balance very powerful lifesaving technologies against the risks of harm due to errors.
What Is Artificial Intelligence In Healthcare?
Artificial intelligence provides a response to the scale of data used in healthcare and the risks from errors treatments. It is one aspect of the role that Big Data plays in healthcare information technology.
AI is the set of processes that relate to thinking and understanding patterns and making judgments about the significance of the connections. The advantages that AI possesses over human readers are the scope and speeds at which it can extract information from vast stores of data and prioritize it analytically.
There is no doubt that more channels and roles will emerge as the technology matures. However, at present there are six easily definable roles in which AI is already deploying or in which it is nearing maturity now, as follows:
- Intelligent Remote Monitoring
- Robust Collaboration
- Electronic Health Records
- Health Plan Reviews
Accounting For The Roles Of AI
Artificial intelligence has the advantage of consistently drawing conclusions from complete libraries of data without the biases of human experience. While doctors might stick to the information sources that they know best, disregarding obscure sources, AI reviews the possibilities, drawing conclusions from all of them equally.
As the technology spreads into operational usage, patients are likely to visit urgent care less, using connected technology instead, such as data from wearables and images taken on smartphones. AI systems will review this information and recognize patterns and pass on recommendations for clinicians to review and follow up with appropriate actions.
Telemedicine For Treatment and Monitoring
The difference that AI brings is that it is unblinking, always connected and monitoring thousands of data points concurrently, for each patient. AI mines this data for patterns to find the leading indicators of progress in healing or warnings of impending problems. AI can make every hospital room into an ICU, eliminating the need for specialized units while reducing the time patients need to spend in hospitals or making outpatient visits.
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Communication, Coordination & Collaboration
The links between doctors, specialists, healthcare providers and patients can lead to communication errors and confusion. A patient might receive referrals to several different specialists, with the chance of miscommunication increasing at each stage. AI applications can review the data and determine if all elements of the healthcare system are aligned to give the best care for each patient.
EHR And Information Retrieval Tools
Electronic healthcare records (EHR) systems can also apply digital solutions that have benefits for physicians, healthcare service providers and patients. The ability to search and monitor changes in files in real-time is something in which AI excels and can reveal insights and connections, for both general trends in health and individual patients.
Health Plan Reviews
Clinical decision support systems link data from historical medical records to improve future treatment outcomes. Health providers are beginning to experiment with machine learning, a form of AI, to make the process more efficient.
According to the book Big Data Revolutions (Thomas & McSharry 2015), tests of new medications are routinely conducted by trial and error. The authors state that tests would need to have three orders of magnitude more data to determine the value of new drugs more efficiently. Fortunately, that is exactly the sort of data harvesting and analysis that is possible with Big Data analytics and AI.
Not A Substitute For Human Initiative
Artificial intelligence in all spheres of knowledge still has not displaced humans for thinking and decision-making. In fact, what machines do is distinct from human thought or consciousness, and so rather than substituting humans in healthcare AI is a tool that supports physicians, healthcare providers and patients. Machine strengths compliment those of medical personnel and so the system of healthcare becomes better with both working together.