Healthcare in the time of Artificial Intelligence

Healthcare in the time of Artificial Intelligence

Her, the 2014 winner of the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, depicts a romantic relationship between a loner and his charming advanced operating system (OS). While the premise may seem outlandish, what rings true is the significant role that artificial intelligence (AI) plays in our lives.

The “AI Stimulus” is one of the four trends in the 2017 Aricent Technology Vision that we believe will play an important role in the ability of our clients to meet customer expectations in the future. It emphasizes the challenges that organizations face with developing next-generation products related to Artificial Intelligence. It highlights the ability of AI to create user experiences that are engaging and novel, while it continuously learns from its interactions and fine-tunes its responses.

Artificial Intelligence is altering our lives in more ways than we can imagine. AI-powered digital assistants such as Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant are getting “smarter” as they help us with an increasing number of ways, from scheduling meetings to selecting music, to researching topics, providing weather updates and reading and responding to emails. And AI is being applied to solve complex challenges in education, human resources and recruitment, retail, supply chain, manufacturing, home, dating, the list goes on. The applications improve with every OS upgrade.

Consider how AI is revolutionizing the world of healthcare. With a mission to improve care and efficiency, tech companies are collaborating with medical institutions to develop a host of new AI applications. For example, a hospital in London devised an innovative approach to solve the problem of managing a backlog of patients waitlisted for eye treatment. While the hospital’s state-of-the-art equipment is capable of helping its pathologists view the 3D cross-sections of the retina, the challenge is to reduce the time-consuming process for doctors to detect abnormalities. The hospital is collaborating with Google’s artificial intelligence group to train an AI system to diagnose a defect at an early stage and produce a diagnosis quickly.

Similarly, IBM’s Watson is making waves in the field of oncology, by presenting doctors with evidence-based treatment options. And AI has taken visual impairment apps to a new level. For example, Microsoft recently launched its Seeing AI app, which provides the visually impaired with a description of their environment, people, text and objects. What sets the Seeing AI app apart is that it can recognize people it has seen before and goes the extra mile of describing not just the appearance of the person but also their emotional state. The app helps users navigate through their environment, thereby greatly improving mobility and independence.

Often called the silent killer, mental health is a serious medical issue in many cultures and geographies the world over. A company in Boston is devising a smartphone app capable of detecting the incidence of depression in an individual, based on mood changes as indicated by the tone of the person’s voice. Another AI startup is working on an app that will determine mood, cognition and behavior based on an individual’s pattern in typing or scrolling on a smartphone.

Chatbots are an interesting entry into the world of mental health counseling, proving to be less-expensive and fairly effective as on-demand substitutes for therapists. While they will never completely replace human therapists, a randomized controlled trial by Stanford University found that a chatbot reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety in individuals in as little as two weeks.

With suicide prevention a concern across the world, it is not surprising that a considerable amount of AI research is being conducted in this area. Facebook’s suicide-prevention feature employs AI to zero in on posts that imply suicidal or harmful thoughts so that the user can receive support. And researchers in China are said to be working to detect a person’s risk of suicide by studying their posts on a microblogging platform.

Medical data management is another important area that is drawing on the strengths of AI to mine medical records of patients, so they can be retrieved and assessed quickly to speed diagnosis and treatment, which will save precious time.

AI is pervading the healthcare industry in many ways, helping address the healthcare needs of individuals and institutions alike, and proving along the way that it cannot be dismissed as just another technology fad.

With more and more tech companies innovating to apply their AI talents to improve healthcare, the results promise to be fascinating.


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