Artificial Intelligence (AI) has altered the digital world in the past few years. The change is not limited to only specific sectors; the healthcare industry has also witnessed the benefits of this impeccable revolution and has adapted by transforming into “AI-enabled health-tech”. The application of AI has proven to improve many processes within healthcare operations and delivery, including but not limited to handling medical records, real-time transmission and analysis of clinical data, m-consultations, and preventive healthcare.
Artificial Intelligence in medical devices
Artificial Intelligence can mimic cognitive human intelligence and behaviour when applied effectively in medical devices. The new-age medical devices are equipped with this intelligence using neural networks, a series of algorithms modelled on human intelligence.
AI and ML have helped integrate electronic health records into digital formats, a major driving force in helping the healthcare industry adapt to the digital transformation. In addition, AI-enabled “intelligent” devices elevate various fields of medical science like – telemedicine, preventive healthcare, optimization of medical therapy, diagnostic support, and more.
Role of AI in pattern recognition
Since the pandemic, there has been increased awareness about preventive healthcare, which has led to the popularisation of the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT). As a result, health monitoring medical devices that track physical fitness, heart rate, blood sugar, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation have become commonplace. Unfortunately, these intelligent devices churn out large chunks of data that are difficult to extract and analyse. AI tools play a crucial role in analysing these large data sets, recognising patterns, and even predicting potential risk factors and outbreaks of pandemics. In addition, they can estimate hospitalisation rates and evaluate steps for preparedness during such occurrences. Cognitive machine learning techniques are also helping to improve and scale up the public healthcare care system.
AI-backed clinical applications
AI has shown promising and highly accurate results in predicting potential risk factors that help prompt action before the patients’ condition turns critical, thereby reducing the mortality rate.
Cardiovascular manifestations like heart attacks, myocardial impairment, and coronary artery diseases (CAD) are predicted by analysing large sets of health records using neural networks. For example, AI-guided ECGs detect faulty heart rhythms (atrial fibrillation) even before the symptoms are evident; this helps control the heart damage by taking timely action like lifestyle changes and personalised medication.
Another prominent area of medical science where AI has significantly contributed is Genomics, which is the study of the genome. The field includes the analysis of the hierarchical and three-dimensional structural configuration of the DNA. The study helps early diagnosis of disease even before symptoms are present by identifying alterations in genes. Genomic medicine is an emerging medical discipline that is useful from the diagnostic stage like cancer screening to guiding tailor-made treatment strategies in oncology.
AI also has a broad scope in other clinical applications like dermatology, gastroenterology, pathology and radiology.
Application of AI in the pharma industry
The pandemic has been a learning lesson for the pharma industry to embrace digital change and rapidly adapt AI to deliver reliable and safe drugs to end-users. As a result, the sector has witnessed commendable results from integrating this technology in research and development (R&D) and drug discovery to clinical trials and scaling up production.
The speed and agility of this unique technology have been stunning. After the pandemic, it took 300 days to identify the coronavirus genome and propose the first vaccine, which took eight to ten years earlier. All other processes like clinical trials and FDA approvals could be fast-tracked due to the precise results of the cutting-edge technology.
The road ahead
As per estimates, about 50% of global healthcare spending will be dedicated to implementing AI strategies. Furthermore, as technology continues to advance, the extended use of Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), Natural Learning Processing (NLP), and Robotics will create new insights to deliver primary and critical healthcare to every living being.
Disclaimer Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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