In a previous article, we discussed the ways that artificial intelligence (AI) could revolutionize elder care across the globe. However, the applications of AI are much more far-reaching and will likely have a positive impact on the entire healthcare system. The reason for this is because AI will be responsible for automating many of the tasks that physicians currently do, thereby freeing up their time for the more important task of patient-doctor interaction.
AI has a lot of promise when it comes to work currently done by medical professionals. An estimation made by technologist and investor Vinod Khosla hypothesizes that more than three-quarters of a physician’s job could be completed by AI. If true, this would allow medical staff to focus their time on patient-physician interaction, without being bogged down with manual data input, data consumption, and treatment generation processes. Khosla estimated that physicians with AI virtual assistants will be able to treat five to ten times as many patients with chronic illnesses as they do today, and will see better outcomes than in the past. According to a recent Research and Markets report, “A basic AI … today in clinical practices can be used for alerts & reminder, diagnostic, therapy planning, information retrieval, and image interpretation.”
Currently, there is a lot of daily time spent by healthcare professionals on rote things such as filling out medical charts, updating vaccination history and keeping patient files up to date. By using AI, the computer system will be able to track and analyze trends among patients not only from one office or hospital, but from the entire country or even the globe. This is thanks to the increasing digitization of medical data since 2013; in fact, the amount of global healthcare data has been increasing 48% annually, according to KPCB partner Mary Meeker’s 2017 research.
By aggregating and analyzing this data, AI will be able to recommend medications, as well as give early warnings about potential complications or developing health problems. The goal of using AI in healthcare is not to automate the entire process or to somehow make doctors obsolete. Physicians and nurses will still play the vital role of human interaction and would ultimately have control over prescribed medications and the course of action to be taken.
AI in healthcare will be able to analyze staggering amounts of data, not only related to the patient at hand, but also any patients whose data has been entered. The ability to sift through massive amounts of data, to identify trends, and to offer warnings about possible future or worsening conditions is something that would take a doctor’s entire day, but could be completed with AI in seconds.