You’re not feeling so good. You go to your computer and plug in the band around your wrist. Within seconds Doctor AI pops up to tell you it’s just the flu, take two aspirin and call him in the morning. Science fiction? It may be closer than you think!
Artificial intelligence is pairing up with the healthcare field to improve public health, expand database information collection and possibly prevent negative outcomes. With its staunch regulation and risk-adverse environment that promotes the next best technologies, the healthcare field is perfect for integration of AI. Machine-learning algorithms, an AI technology, allow computers to accomplish tasks by training on a set of acquired data instead of programming. AI also allows systems to gather large quantities of comparative information quickly, which helps physicians identify problems before they become catastrophic.
AI machine-learning has the potential to be preventative as well. For example, a neurological implant can prevent a seizure in a patient based on the knowledge of brainwaves in millions of other patients with the same condition and interrupt the seizure before it occurs. One of the first medical devices to incorporate AI was just recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration — The Edwards Lifesciences’ Acumen Hypotension Prediction Index (HPI). The HPI uses AI to give doctors continuous probability that a patient’s blood pressure might drop in a life-threatening way.
Tech-savvy giants are already in the healthcare mix. Apple’s KardiaMobile, a pocket-size electrocardiogram monitor, is already in use as the first iPhone accessory approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. And the heart-rate sensor in the Apple Watch harvests massive quantities of anonymous data for its heart study, in partnership with Stanford.
While AI is certainly not replacing physicians or telling them what to do, it may eventually become a fantastic decision support tool that will not only alert the provider to an impending situation but also the probable cause and suggested solution. And although the current AI technologies are not without their concerns, like patient safety and information privacy, the field will continue to grow as provider and public education expands use.