Artificial intelligence is everywhere in the modern world. From smartphone apps made by developers like Blue Label Labs to the recommendations on your favorite shopping website, we encounter AI systems every day.

While we might see AI everywhere, the healthcare industry is one sector where AI holds the most promise. It can be used to improve care for better outcomes, make care available to more people and bring down costs.

The role of AI in healthcare is sure to grow in the coming years, but it is already making a big difference today. Let’s take a look at some of the ways AI is changing healthcare for the better.

Diagnosing Disease

One of the ways AI can improve healthcare is to make it easier to diagnose disease and predict risk for individual patients. AI algorithms can now be trained to analyze medical images and diagnose diseases at a much earlier stage. 

As an example, an AI algorithm could be trained on thousands of medical images of lungs. Some of the images would be of healthy lungs and others would be lungs with cancer. With enough exposure, the system would be able to detect minor abnormalities that may indicate the early stages of cancer. This could help doctors diagnose the disease earlier and provide a better outcome for patients.

Patient Monitoring

Patient monitoring can be a drain on hospital resources. Checking on patients is a relatively simple task, but it takes skilled personnel away from other duties that may require their attention. With AI systems that are trained for monitoring, hospital staff could be freed up to work on things that need the time and attention of a human.

As an example, some patients need to be monitored because they are at high risk for falls. Instead of using humans to do this work, an AI system could be trained to monitor the patient in his or her bed. It would be able to tell when they are trying to get up and it would alert staff to send assistance. It could also tell the difference between a patient that is in bed, on the floor or on his or her feet.

Drug Development 

Drug development is incredibly expensive and it can take many years before a new drug is ready to reach the market. If the time and cost could be brought down just a little bit, it would make a significant difference for healthcare costs.

With AI, the development time and the costs can be brought down. AI algorithms can be used to analyze data from trials to find trends that would be missed by humans. It could also help with finding better candidates for trials, selecting the most promising compounds for identifying side effects.

Automating Simple Tasks

Much of the cost of healthcare goes to different tasks and processes that are not directly associated with diagnosing and treating patients. These are often administrative tasks that might not be involved in the actual treatment of patients, but they are necessary to keep healthcare facilities running.

This is another area where AI can bring down costs and make healthcare more efficient. AI can be used to handle things like automated invoicing and supply chain management. It can also improve inventory management by tracking supply levels and automatically ordering more when it is needed.

AI can’t solve every problem in the healthcare industry, but it can help us build a better system today. It can free human healthcare workers from tasks that could be handled by automated systems and it can assist human professionals to provide better care and improve outcomes.

Catherine Metcalf
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Rae is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing (of course).

Twitter: @araesininthesun