Moving In the Age of AI and Robotics and Changing the Game in the Healthcare Industry

Published by Nikulsan | Artificial Intelligence
April 24, 2018.

Artificial Intelligence

Since man first discovered fire, mined iron and built the first ships, technology has made life better. It has made life less stressful and a lot easier than it was the day before. Advancements in science and technology have changed the frontiers of what was thought possible in chemistry, physics, agriculture, engineering, and various other fields. In today’s world, Artificial intelligence and robotics are some of the biggest topics being discussed in the world of science and technology, and interestingly it is for good reason. Artificial Intelligence is a branch of computer science which deals with the mimicry or reproduction of human level intelligence, knowledge, self-awareness or conscience in machines or computers and robotics is the science, technology, design, manufacture, and application of robots.

AI and robotics have had many practical applications in various industries all over the world including finance, transportation, manufacturing etc. and there has been a push to bring these into the healthcare industry to further benefit mankind. Advancements in AI and robotics which are currently being applied to the Healthcare are making it possible for humans to live longer, healthier, and more wholesome lives than was possible in the past. The application of AI and robotics into the healthcare industry has had several unprecedented benefits seemingly out of a science fiction novel for the industry and humanity in general.

Although often intertwined, AI and robotics have played both specific and joint roles in the healthcare industry and still promise a lot of potential benefits to come in the future.

Some roles which AI has played in the healthcare industry and still has the potential to play include:

1. Data Gathering:
Advancements in AI have led to their application into wearable tech like the FitBit or on phones which have sensors to monitor heart rate, physical activity and cholesterol levels to help gather useful data about patients which can then be added to their medical history and activity. It has also helped with collecting, storing and making this data available for faster access.

2. Early Disease Detection:
AI has been applied to the healthcare industry to aid in early and precise detection of diseases, especially chronic diseases like cancer or liver disease. AI is helpful in sorting, analysing and interpreting data collected from tests conducted on patients to help detect possibly-life-threatening diseases in patients accurately. An added advantage of the use of AI to perform data analysis of test results is that it limits the human element in the procedure, thus greatly lowering the risk of error.

3. Easier Diagnosis:
AI-operated machines can trawl through large amounts of related data and stored information to help provide a precise diagnosis for patients based on test results, previous medical history and current available medical information.

4. Treatment:
AI is very helpful in analysing and utilizing stored data and information, patient’s medical history and available clinical expertise and knowledge to help provide individually customized treatment regimen for patients.

Some of the current roles and applications of robotics to the healthcare industry include:

1. Nanorobotics:
Nanorobots, which are small, cell-sized autonomous robots, have been developed which can be injected into a patient’s blood stream to target and destroy cancerous cells and help in treating cancer and other forms of chronic diseases.

2. Mobility Aids:
Advancements in robotics has led to the development of mobility aids to help patients who have been rendered partially immobile move around easily. This includes AI-run wheelchairs and exoskeletons to help patients with rehabilitation after accidents.

3. Use in Surgery:
Advancements in the field of robotics has led to the development of robots which can help in surgical procedures where extreme precision is required - either autonomously with the use of AI or with the guidance of human experts.

4. Care for the Sick and Elderly:
Robots have helped with taking care of patients suffering from life-threatening diseases or who are disabled. Humanoid-type robots running AI systems have been developed to help patients live independently for longer. These robots are able to assist patients in moving around, fetching objects, dispensing their drugs or keeping their company.

With almost daily progressions in AI and robotics, it is believed that 80% of the roles doctors currently perform will be undertaken by AI-powered systems in the future. AI and robotics offers various solutions to the myriad of problems currently plaguing the universal healthcare industry. Some of these problems e.g. unnecessary healthcare plans leading to excessive waste of funds that could better be focused on other aspects can be solved by properly using AI to analyse a patients data so as to focus their healthcare plan on taking care of diseases they are at the most risk of. Using robots to perform functions like tending to patients also helps limit the number of monotonous tasks hospital staff has to perform, thus completely eliminating the possibility of human error that can worsen the patient’s health condition.

Another major advantage which AI and robotics has in its usage in Healthcare over human providers is the possibility of personalized healthcare plans for individual patients. Because of the large patient-healthcare provider disparity, there is not often the option of providing treatment and healthcare based on individual patients, but with AI and robotics daily becoming more relevant in the Healthcare industry, there is the possibility of each patient getting treatments based on their peculiar symptoms and needs.

Increased development in the field of AI also promises better availability of accurate and specific patient data to help monitor their health and pre-empt diseases and illnesses based on noticed risk factors and dangers.

Adopting AI and robotics into the healthcare industry is a right step into a healthier future for all of humanity. Not only does it offer significant solutions to problems being faced by the healthcare industry as a whole, it also promises cheaper and more accurate healthcare provision for patients as well as greatly reducing the workload of healthcare providers to the barest minimum.