Medicine has always been a human profession and practice – until now. Artificial intelligence is surpassing human ability in many applications of medicine, explains this World Economic Forum article. Learn seven ways that AI-powered tools are improving health care and why your future medical team may well include you plus a machine.
- Artificial intelligence (AI) will eventually individualize medicine and empower people to become their “own doctors.”
- Already, AI is redefining health care through the early, accurate detection and diagnosis of medical conditions like skin cancer and eye disease.
- Often, AI performs diagnostic and analytical tasks faster, more accurately and more comprehensively than human doctors can – and with less variability.
- The technology thus improves the precision – and even the prognosis – of medical and mental health diagnoses.
- AI’s rapid computing power could bring faster, safer drug development, helping people with diseases to access new treatments sooner.
Innovative technologies look to redefine health care in life-changing ways – for example, by enabling speedier diagnoses and individualized medicine. Wearable devices will be able to alert individuals to health issues before they manifest as symptoms. As technology advances, the role of medical practitioners may shrink. Already, artificial intelligence (AI) has brought seven remarkable changes to health care:
- Skin cancer detection – AI diagnoses skin cancer better than doctors. In a 2018 study, doctors were 87% correct, but machines were 95% correct. Differences in doctors’ experience and education add inconsistencies to health care. AI standardizes care, and the technology could cut the rate of false positives and unjustified surgeries.
- Preserving eye health – A UK hospital is testing algorithms trained on “thousands of eye scans” to catch two prevalent eye diseases early: diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration. Early detection helps prevent sight loss.
- Accelerating drug development – AI’s rapid computing power helps drug developers analyze copious data (for example, from clinical trials, medical files and genetic histories) to predict better how a drug will affect someone. Faster drug development would make new treatments available sooner.
- Predicting the end of a coma – AI trained on brain scans can detect slightly altered blood flow and other brain activity that the human eye can’t see. A Chinese study proved the technology almost 90% accurate – more accurate than doctors – at predicting if a comatose patient will wake.
- Analyzing CT scans – By analyzing scans and patient records, AI can diagnose diseases faster than a radiologist, and machines are exempt from the “eye fatigue” that can lead to a misdiagnosis. IBM is close to releasing AI that would help radiologists by comparing millions of scans with a patient’s health data.
- Spotting and alleviating depression – A California firm has developed technology to detect depression by assessing how people use their smartphones. A two-week trial of Woebot – a chatbot based on cognitive behavioral therapy – significantly reduced depressive symptoms among young adult patients.
- Equipping doctors with robotic assistants – Chinese researchers equipped an AI robot with extensive medical knowledge, including textbooks, millions of medical records and 400,000 articles. The robot quickly aced the exam to obtain a medical license and serves doctors by instantly retrieving the comprehensive and current information they need.
About the Author
Alex Gray is a senior writer at digital content producer Formative Content.
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