Healthcare is a rapidly growing industry, and it’s no surprise that artificial intelligence is becoming a vital component. Healthcare AI will shape change many lives around the world. Many of the best healthcare companies and top biomedical companies are working to move toward a healthcare industry driven by artificial intelligence.
The Healthcare Industry
In 2016, no sector in the United States created as many jobs as the healthcare industry did. This growth is expected to continue over the coming years.
The healthcare industry is expected to grow rapidly over the next decade. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment within the industry will increase by 11.5 million by 2026, or .7% annually. This marks growth from 156.1 million to 167.6 million. The expected growth is greater than the growth of the previous decade. Between 2006 and 2016, the industry grew at a rate of .5%.
A primary factor of the expected growth rate is an aging population. As the U.S. population ages, they will require more healthcare services. An aging population will also result in job openings as older generations retire from the workforce. According to the BLS predictions, an aging population will cause a decline in the overall labor force participation rate over the next ten years.
How Does AI Factor In?
Artificial intelligence refers to technologies that interact and learn from each other. These technologies can sense, comprehend, and act. They have the ability to learn to augment human activities. AI can comprehend complex medical data and a rate unachievable by humans. In turn, patients can be released from the hospital sooner, and lives can be saved.
Healthcare AI will revolutionize the industry over the coming years by making doctor’s jobs easier and increasing patient success rates. Accenture has predicted the US healthcare economy could see $150 billion in annual savings because of healthcare AI.
Accenture also predicted that the valuation of the healthcare AI industry is expected to skyrocket. From 2014 to 2021, it’s expected that the industry’s valuation will increase eleven-fold, from $600 million to $6.6 billion. It’s also been predicted that the industry will see a compound annual growth rate of 40% through 2021.
Even the government has recognized the potential of healthcare AI. President Obama instituted the Precision Medicine Initiative and the Cancer Moonshot. Both programs worked to help doctors diagnose diseases and recommend appropriate treatments for their patients. Doctors relied on AI to analyze medical data and find useful patterns to help improve patient care.
AI first entered the healthcare industry a few years ago, after IBM’s “Watson” gained popularity on Jeopardy. IBM offered the program to cancer centers to be used by oncologists to help determine the proper treatment for a patient.
Benefits of AI
The benefits that AI can bring to the healthcare industry are tremendous.
A Silicon Valley hospital implemented AI technology earlier this year. In the six months that followed, patients suffered dangerous falls at a rate 39% less than before the technology had been implemented. This was primarily because of information received by doctors and nurses that helped prevent patient injuries.
The hospital’s AI ran a software program that predicted falls by analyzing patients’ electronic health records. The program identified key risk factors and alerted hospital staff who was most likely to suffer from a fall. Hospital staff inputted data in real-time to help the system learn from itself and make real-time adjustments to its algorithm. The system was constantly learning and adapting.
Every detail of a patient’s day-to-day life is recorded. If a patient needs a nurse’s assistance or uses the bathroom, it’s entered into the AI software program. By machine-learning, the program sent alerts to hospital staff about who was in immediate danger. The staff would then make adjustments to that individual’s treatment plan to help protect them.
The opportunities for AI within the healthcare industry are endless. From helping train new doctors, to providing obscure diagnosis, AI will transform the healthcare industry. Patients will be treated in a way previously unseen to mankind. It’s too early to tell if AI will one day replace doctors entirely. In the meantime, doctors will surely use the services AI can offer to help extend the lifespan of their patients.
Medical Startups Focused on AI
According to a CB Insights report, there were 106 healthcare AI startups at the beginning of the year, over half of which were launched in 2016. 13 of these startups have raised at least $25 million, demonstrating how quickly AI is incorporating itself into the world. Below are some of the key medical startups focused on AI.
Flatiron Health, New York City, Valuation: $313 Million
The company, whose services are available in over 265 community cancer clinics, seeks to power a national benchmark for cancer care.
Investors include Google Ventures, Roche Venture Fund, Allen & Company, Baillie Gifford & Co., and Casdin Capital
Welltok, Denver, Valuation: $238.62 Million
The company’s CafeWell Health Optimization Platform incentivizes consumers to receive a personalized healthcare plan.
Investors include Bessemer Venture Partners, Emergence Capital Partners, IBM Watson Group, and Qualcomm Ventures, among many others
iCarbonX, China, Valuation: $199 Million
This company seeks to create user profiles based on a number of factors. The profiles would then be used for health index predictions and individual health analysis.
Investors include China Bridge Capital, Vcanbio, and Tencent
Best Healthcare Companies and Top Biomedical Companies
There are hundreds of established companies within the world of healthcare AI, but these are some of the best.
Google Deepmind Health
This project provides better and faster health services by mining medical records. In mere minutes, the AI system can process hundreds of thousands of pieces of medical data.
As mentioned, Watson broke the barrier between healthcare and AI. Within the past few years, IBM Watson developed WatsonPaths. WatsonPaths seeks to help physicians make more accurate decisions in a quicker timeframe. The system seeks to gain information from electronic medical records.
This rapidly-growing company recently secured $4.3 million in financing. The system is a cloud-based analytics platform that predicts in real-time the odds that a patient will be readmitted to a hospital. Live access to this data allows doctors to determine what further treatments a patient should undergo before being released from the hospital.
This company seeks to make MRI and ultrasounds more accessible, by making them cheaper and more efficient. One of the company’s main developments is a tiny scanner that allows doctors to see 3D images of what’s inside.
Learn Artificial Intelligence
Healthcare AI combines two industries with tremendous potential for growth. To learn artificial intelligence, you should first identify a problem within your given industry. In this case, you’d be focused on the healthcare industry. Identify an end-to-end problem and how AI can be used to solve it.
Once you have the solution down pat, you should repeat this process for a variety of problems. This will help you develop your algorithm that will hopefully one day be presented to an AI system. There are a number of courses available that will allow you to gather a better understanding of the basics of AI.
Courses can help you learn machine learning, robotics, natural language processing, and probabilistic reasoning. All are critical to learning artificial intelligence. Remember, the healthcare AI industry is expecting tremendous growth over the coming years, with startups constantly being absorbed by bigger companies. Your startup could be the next company to help revolutionize the healthcare AI industry.