Artificial Intelligence in Health Care and 5 Emerging Uses

By Tayla Holman August 10, 2017 Posted in: Patient Care , Article

Artificial intelligence has the ability to revolutionize health care, and the transformation is already beginning. New applications are emerging every day, and patients and providers can reap the benefits of artificial intelligence. It can help improve patient outcomes, reduce health care costs, and even aid in clinical decision-making.

As with any new technology, there are concerns about artificial intelligence in health care, such as privacy and security. However, many of these concerns will likely be addressed as the technology continues to evolve. For now, things are still in the early stages and developers are just starting to realize the potential of artificial intelligence in health care. Here are five emerging uses to be aware of and keep your eye on.

1. Virtual Health Assistants

Artificial intelligence can act as a virtual health assistant. Many people interact with some form of artificial intelligence on a daily basis when they use voice-based assistants such as Microsoft's Cortana or Apple's Siri. This technology is currently available in mobile health (mHealth) apps or as an integral feature on smartphones.

But artificial intelligence can do so much more than retrieve the weather forecast or remind you to pick up milk on the way home. A virtual health assistant can answer medical questions, set medication reminders, schedule appointments, and communicate with health care providers (with the patient's consent, of course). A virtual health assistant can be extremely beneficial for a patient with a chronic condition, especially one who takes multiple medications or sees several specialists.

2. Natural Language Processing

Physicians can use natural language processing to make better treatment decisions and improve patient care. Physicians have to interact with a lot of unstructured data that is often text heavy, but natural language processing can summarize a lengthy text document by identifying important concepts or phrases. Natural language processing can also read documents from different sources and classify data based on its content.

3. Machine Learning

Machine learning is a subset of artificial intelligence in which a computer has the ability to learn without being programmed by humans. One way this technology is being used in health care is to diagnose patients, often with greater accuracy than doctors. Some machine learning tools can identify cancer cases as accurately as a doctor, or even better, and they can even diagnose patients faster than a doctor can. Machine learning can also be used to identify the geographical location of patients with certain diseases.

4. Robotics

Robotics can be used in several different ways in health care—one common use is surgery. With a physician in control of the system, a robot can perform minimally invasive surgery with greater accuracy and precision than a human. Robots can also draw blood, check vital signs, and perform repetitive and demanding tasks without getting tired, which would allow doctors and nurses to spend more time with patients.

5. Genomics

While genomics itself isn't artificial intelligence, it can be enhanced with AI. Genomics is the study of genes and chromosomes, but some companies are using artificial intelligence to go even further. One such company is Deep Genomics, which uses deep learning to analyze genetic data in a way that humans can't. This could help uncover which genes are behind diseases like Alzheimer's or predict the effects of a genetic mutation. Genomics can then be used to provide patients with medicine that's personalized to their unique genetic composition.

One of the most common questions about artificial intelligence in health care is whether it will replace doctors or other medical professionals. While it's a natural worry to have, artificial intelligence can work side by side with humans to make the best decisions for patients and improve their care.

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