Artificial intelligence is progressing rapidly. Advancements in deep learning have propelled the idea of an AI-powered world from a faraway fantasy to a fast-approaching reality. AI, whether it be in the form of personal assistants on our smartphones or data miners who predict our spending habits, is becoming more deeply integrated with our everyday lives. What’s more, we’re starting to see artificial intelligence make its way into larger applications.
Perhaps the most exciting applications are seen in nascent AI healthcare technologies. According to CB Insights, there are currently over 100 AI startups focused on healthcare, a sharp rise considering there were less than two dozen only a few years ago. These startups are innovating routine checkups, drug discovery and oncology research. Their technologies could assist in administering treatment to undeveloped nations and could improve existing systems in the developed world. AI and healthcare could quite possibly be a beautiful marriage, one with an enormously positive effect on society.
Here are the 4 ways AI is changing healthcare:
1. Diagnosis is becoming automated
Utilizing deep learning, the process by which machines learn and recognize complex patterns, startups are building AI systems that can more effectively analyze and diagnose illness. The Butterfly Network, a startup that secured over $100 million in funding in 2014, is working on improving ultrasound technology. Ultimately, they want their software to provide accurate diagnosis by using AI, the cloud and their 3D imaging technology.
Butterfly Network isn’t the only one making strides in AI diagnosis. Another company, iCarbonX, is endeavoring to mine health data to create a big data platform that will help prevent and eliminate disease. Larger corporations are also taking an interest. IBM is backing Pathway Genomics, a company that takes small blood samples from high-risk patients in the hopes of providing early detection of cancer.
2. AI is making treatment available to more people
Microsoft is currently working on a project that aims to democratize cancer diagnosis. Their AI program analyzes cancer cells, a laborious task that previously made it an impossibility for doctors to treat a large number of cancer patients at once. Another one of their projects aims to take the guesswork out of radiological treatments, improving radiologists readings of patient data. Both technologies reduce the time doctors have to spend analyzing large amounts of data, making it possible for them to cater to more patients in less time.
3. Virtual follow-up care is alleviating the burden on nurses
Chronic pain afflicts millions. Their care requires numerous check-ups and check-ins. This requires an immense amount of work for both patients and nurses. Thankfully, companies like Sense.ly are employing artificial intelligence to lessen the hassle of outpatient treatment and care. Sense.ly has created a lifelike avatar with the ability to answer questions and assess symptoms. It also has the ability to track patient activity and adjust recommendations based on behavioral data, creating a more personalized prognosis. Systems like this reduce the hours clinicians have to work on a single case without neglecting the patient’s needs.
4. It’s helping advance drug discovery
Big data analysis is being used to greatly reduce the time it takes researchers to find solutions to complex problems. twoXar is using predictive analysis to accelerate drug discovery like never before. And they’re not the only players. Atomwise, one of the first deep learning technologies developed to accelerate drug discovery, recently released its findings on new treatments for the Ebola virus.
Artificial intelligence in healthcare is truly amazing. It isn’t limited to big business, either. Thanks to open-source projects like the python-based OpenCog, young companies have the ability to delve into the world of AI. These companies, big and small, are using AI to reshape healthcare. Their efforts to integrate AI into healthcare could greatly reduce cost and make quality, affordable healthcare available to a greater number of people.
Programmers, business leaders and healthcare providers are working to create even more powerful and precise AI systems. As they continue to revolutionize the healthcare industry, we can help shape AI’s effect on our communities. Use this list as a jumping off point to get more educated about AI in healthcare and join the conversation about the rise of AI, and its effects on future doctors and patients.
Contributed by: Anthony Coggine is a HR professional turned business analyst. He has spent more than 5 years as a recruitment consultant in a variety of industries, primarily focused on consumer technology and research.
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