Across the globe, artificial intelligence in medicine is already being used to help save lives, and it’s improving every day. Technology is so deeply embedded in our lives that many people aren’t aware of how AI assists us almost daily, and you’ve probably reaped the benefits of artificial intelligence without knowing it. In this article, we explore everything you need to know about artificial intelligence in medicine, such as the benefits, medical AI laws, and the top applications of artificial intelligence in medicine.
Benefits of Artificial Intelligence in Medicine
Artificial intelligence in medicine is a beneficial force for healthcare as teams of doctors, scientists, and engineers are coming together to create super machines that support the practice of medicine. These super machines can collect, read, and interpret lots of data in a short amount of time, and here we detail the biggest benefits of artificial intelligence in medicine.
Cost Reduction Potential
It’s true that developing and implementing new technology is a costly endeavor, but artificial intelligence in medicine has the potential to cut costs in the long-term. AI has already developed new drugs for pharmaceutical companies in a cost-effective way. However, whether pharmaceutical companies extend these savings to consumers remains to be seen.
There is no skirting around the fact that many medical professionals are overworked, and long hours with little sleep can lead to human error. Medical AI works as a safety net and preventive measure against errors as sleep deprivation, emotions, and stress pose no issues for artificial intelligence, and AI can provide accurate data and analysis around the clock.
Sometimes it’s difficult for those experiencing pain to describe exactly where the pain is coming from with accuracy. Pain has a way of spreading that can confuse patients and complicate the treatment process. New AI technology sensors described as “Automatic Pain Assessment with Facial Activity Descriptors” accurately determine the source of pain via bodily reactions and facial expressions.
As long as there is internet access we can connect with healthcare information from almost anywhere in the world. If traveling to a specialist isn’t possible, there are now options to consult doctors through virtual means.
Skin Cancer Detection
As with all cancer, early detection of skin cancer is imperative to the overall health of the patient. According to a Stanford University study called “Dermatologist-level Classification of Skin Cancer,” artificial intelligence is as effective and efficient in detecting harmful melanoma in the skin as board-certified dermatologists.
AI vastly improves the precision in surgical procedures. Consider how far the medical community has come with certain routine operations as treatments that once required extended hospital stays are now minimally invasive outpatient procedures. Through the advancement of medical tools, sensors, software, and imaging systems AI improves the surgical process and minimizes patient trauma.
Artificial intelligence in medicine is an incredible ally for modern medical professionals. With the click of a button, these professionals have access to expansive databases of useful information. With this accurate information at their fingertips, they can treat a patient even quicker.
AI Healthcare Regulatory Compliance
The benefits of artificial intelligence in medicine are many, and more advancements in this field are to come. However, AI developers and those who wish to use AI in the medical field are bound by legal restrictions pertaining to the technology. In the United States, strict regulations govern the medical field, and those regulations also apply to AI, but the construction of these regulations is haphazard, especially when pertaining to artificial intelligence in medicine.
Most AI regulations don’t specifically refer to medical AI at all. Instead, artificial intelligence in the medical realm falls under the restrictions of regulatory protocol for other fields. At the White House’s 2018 Artificial Intelligence Summit, President Donald Trump announced plans to reduce already shaky AI regulations. With ethical, cybersecurity, and national security issues to contend with, the lift on those already limited barriers is unlikely to happen soon. However, there are basic regulations in place that impact artificial intelligence in medicine.
Both proponents and critics of artificial intelligence in medicine recognize that with machine learning, AI is only as good as the information it receives. Regulations are in place to prevent negligence and save human lives, but right now there isn’t any legislation to define liability with AI in medicine. If medical practitioners move to a strictly algorithm-based system, who is liable or at fault in a case of misdiagnosis or death? Before moving to a less regulated medical AI structure, we must address these liabilities.
Oversight and Management
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the federal agency responsible for overseeing public health, and medical AI falls within the FDA’s jurisdiction. Until the FDA produces a defined protocol for artificial intelligence in medicine, no widespread implementation of medical AI can happen.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a big deal and poses restrictions for medical AI. HIPAA protects patient data while machine learning functions best when fed a maximum amount of data, so a fundamental opposition exists between these two objectives. In order for the public, medical community, and developers to benefit most from medical AI, a legal rectification of these opposing forces must occur.
AI is a computer that’s vulnerable to attack, so when it comes to protecting sensitive healthcare information, the security of an AI system is very important. Serious federal ramifications can result from not taking legally mandated cybersecurity measures with medical AI.
AI Applications in Medicine
Artificial intelligence in medicine is touching every area of the field.
The public has used artificial intelligence in medical consultations for many years. They exist online and by phone, but not all systems are made the same across medical AI consultations. Far from the skewed results sometimes hailed from sources like WebMD, the latest advancements in AI technology are bringing accuracy to the medical consultation to the table.
When given sufficient information, artificial intelligence can see patterns in medical imaging scans that are nearly impossible for the human eye to catch. Patterns are everything for establishing the criteria for medical diagnoses, and groundbreaking work is happening in the medical field with AI and medical imaging. AI can swiftly sort through all the patient data to reveal underlying causes of diseases and detect new ailments before the onset of symptoms.
Robots can scan through existing medications to find new possible treatment options and develop new drugs. Investigations that once took years to retrieve results now take as little as one day to develop as pharmaceutical companies turn to AI to come up with alternative treatment options. Public health agencies around the globe are using AI to predict infectious disease outbreaks while simultaneously developing treatment options for them.
Already often used in clinical trials, AI is a helpful way for patients to monitor and manage doses of medication. The National Institutes of Health AiCure app sends reminders to take medication and interacts with the user to help track medication times. Apps like these can be especially helpful for those who forget to take medication, those who have a rigid medications schedule, or for those who have many medications to take throughout the day.
Records and Data
Medical AI is widely used for the storage, maintenance, tracking, and management of health records and medical data. The healthcare field revolves around the gathering and analyzing complex data, and artificial intelligence gathers, organizes, and interprets information quickly and efficiently.
Smart Lab Results
Doctors are now using artificial intelligence to deliver patient lab results through mobile apps and other electronic means. This delivery works both for the patient and for the doctor. Patients receive lab work results in a concise and easy-to-understand way while doctors can spend more time treating patients.
Precision is paramount in surgical procedures. Artificial intelligence steps in when a procedure is too complex for humans complete.
Wearable Health Tracking
Many people already experience the benefits of medical AI through wearable health tracking devices such as Fitbit or Vivosport. These wearable health trackers send data to a larger network of information and AI assess the data to provide personalized health recommendations. These AI systems help wearers gain a better understanding of their health through pattern recognition because they can pick up on vital information you can’t detect or track yourself.
Artificial intelligence in medicine is a resource that is improving the lives of patients and doctors alike. It lets physicians live up to their Hippocratic Oath while using the latest technologies medical field to create an improved healthcare system and better overall public health. Some argue that AI will one day replace humans in the medical field, but AI is only as powerful as the human hands operating the machines.
Although some argue that fewer restrictions for AI development would improve the technology, the established regulations protect patients and the medical community, and most doctors agree that medical AI regulations are necessary going forward with this technology.