Artificial Intelligence (AI) and healthcare. Not necessarily an industry and technology that you may think of putting together, but they make a surprisingly effective partnership.
You’ve probably interacted with an AI assistant before, particularly if you use things like Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant, Cortana or a Google Home.
But did you know that AI assistants can do much more than tell you what the traffic is going to be like or play your favourite music?
AI has a bright future in many industries, including the healthcare industry. But how does an AI assistant actually work, and how could it benefit the world of healthcare?
How Does An AI Assistant Work?
In the most basic terms, an AI assistant is a software agent that can perform tasks or services for an individual, usually based on verbal commands.
For example, if you ask an AI assistant like Alexa ‘how old is George Clooney?’, it will search the internet for matches to your query, and come back with the answer ‘George Clooney is 57 years old.’ This used to be all an AI assistant could do – but thanks to advances in technology, their capabilities are expanding all the time.
AI assistants can now work by text, voice, or by uploading pictures.
AI assistants use a variety of technologies to provide the results they do. At their core, they are a combination of:
- Artificial Intelligence: All about creating autonomous workers capable of mimicking human cognitive functions.
Things like the AI robot Sophia, which has been shared millions of times on social media. It’s a machine that can appear to think, reason and act like a human being.
- Intelligent Automation: Works by building better workers, both human and digital, by embracing working alongside intelligent technologies.
Intelligent automation has the potential to free up individuals from mundane,
time-consuming tasks, giving organisations the resources they need to scale up their
operations and reduce costs at the same time – by redeploying those individuals to
more valuable, creative tasks.
- Machine Learning: Technically a form of artificial intelligence, but it is important enough that it deserves its own recognition.
Machine learning is what allows AI assistants to automatically learn and improve from experience, without being explicitly programmed. It can also make predictions, process huge amounts of data in seconds, identify patterns and detect anomalies, making it the perfect tool for medical analysis.
- Natural Language Processing: Is the element that allows the assistant to understand and process human languages.
It’s what helps it understand and interpret speech, and mimic it as well. This helps
computer programmes interface with humans (and vice versa) in both written and
spoken contexts using natural language.
Mix all of that together in a big pot, and you have an AI assistant! AI’s roots date back to the 20th century (though it was very primitive), and since then the technology has got bigger and better.
How Does That Fit Into Healthcare?
That’s all well and good, and AI assistants have now become a staple part of many parts of life – including our healthcare system. In fact, the healthcare industry has big plans for AI technology. Healthcare executives across the world expect AI to be among the most impactful technologies fuelling innovation.
Since AI is used to process algorithms and give an approximation of human thought, it’s proving to be invaluable in the analysis of complex medical data.
Without any human intervention, AI systems can process huge amount of complex data and provide a set of conclusions similar to that a human would.
What distinguishes AI technology from traditional technologies in health care is the ability to gain information, process it and give a well-defined output to the end-user.
That’s where the machine learning part comes in. Using this technology, AI assistants can recognise patterns in behaviour and create its own logic. In healthcare, this can be used to analyse the relationships between prevention or treatment techniques and patient outcomes. This could improve the diagnostic process, improve treatment options, aid in drug development and even provider personalised medicine.
Helping Widespread Healthcare
But it’s not only the clinicians that will see the benefits. There are already some healthcare-based AI products on the general market that are designed to improve at-home healthcare and reduce the strain on NHS GP appointments.
At the front of the pack is Ada – your personal healthcare assistant. Through an AI interface, you can tell Aida what your symptoms are, and ask for advice.
Ada can then ask relevant follow up questions and provide you with a possible diagnosis, treatment options, next steps and even put you in touch with a doctor and send them it’s findings. This assistant is perfect for common healthcare concerns. Its use can, therefore, prevent a lot of unnecessary GP visits and lead to better quality at-home healthcare in the long term.
And those are just two of the exciting possible applications for AI in healthcare. Despite still being early in development, extensive research has already been carried out into the possibilities of AI in healthcare, and the impact it could have on the wider healthcare system.
At Orbital Media, we do a lot of work in the healthcare sector, from VR pharmacies and AR training simulations to the gamification of at-home healthcare and pain relief treatments. If you would like to know more, just get in touch with the team today.