Artificial intelligence (AI) is a computer’s use of algorithms to input data and make decisions based on a constructed conceptual framework. In simple terms, AI technology allows computers to independently solve problems by using logic and probability combined with vast data sets. With so much potential, it’s no wonder that AI technology is already seeing positive results in health care. As noted in Healthcare Finance, “there is an emerging trend toward AI assets that amplify the value of patient data and provide an extendable, scalable pathway to effective primary disease prevention.”
AI applied to health care is driving change for the better. The integration of AI “will cause a paradigm shift in the delivery of health care,” a study published in Neurology India notes. Many health care professionals looking at this shift are pursuing an advanced health care degree, such as an online Master of Health Administration, to learn how to effectively use cutting-edge AI technology in their careers. To help professionals better understand how the growth of AI in health care may impact their future, further details are outlined below.
The Growth of AI in Health Care
The uses for AI technology in health care are rapidly expanding, prompted by new technological advancements combined with the growing need to care for more patients with fewer health care professionals. The current nursing shortage has restricted time and resources allotted per patient. AI technologies can provide methods to analyze, diagnose, and even prevent health issues from further developing, thus improving overall care.
The AI Forecast from market intelligence firm Tractica, as reported by Business Wire, notes there are 10 potential areas where AI may prove particularly beneficial to the health care industry:
- Medical image analysis
- Health care virtual desktop access (VDA)
- Computational drug discovery and drug effectiveness
- Medical treatment recommendations
- Patient data processing
- Medical diagnosis assistance
- Converting paperwork into digital data
- Automated report generation
- Hospital patient management systems
- Biomarker discovery
The growth of AI in health care is directly linked to it benefits in these areas. Tractica reports that AI’s potential for health care utilization will cause global AI software revenue to grow to $8.6 billion by 2025, a roughly 1,600% increase from 2018’s $511.7 million. Clearly, the AI technology industry, especially in the realm of health care, is booming.
AI’s Impact on Health Care Services
AI technology is already having an impact on health care services. Here are just a few of the specific areas in health care that are shifting as AI technology changes how health care professionals operate and provide care.
An area of health care that is well suited to AI technology’s strengths is radiology. AI is being used in image recognition, which is determining diagnoses based on the images made by X-rays, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET), ultrasound, and other imaging tools. Most radiologists have honed their skills at image recognition over years and even decades of experience. Precision is crucial in image recognition, since even the slightest variation in an image can make a significant difference in a patient’s prognosis. Experienced radiologists can see minute details in images to provide an assessment. However, the human eye is far from perfect.
The massive stores of data AI technology can access are also proving to be enormously helpful in achieving more accurate radiological results. As a study published in Nature Reviews Cancer notes, AI technology’s ability to find complex connections in image data allows AI to produce “quantitative, rather than qualitative, assessments of radiographic characteristics.” Once a software system built with AI technology is implemented, it can access compiled data — of hundreds of thousands of images paired with case studies to indicate correlations — providing nearly automatic analysis. This reduces processing time and may also increase overall patient care.
Health care professionals are excited to see AI technology being applied to preventive care. Using data analysis to predict potential health outcomes, AI technology can recommend courses of preventive care and improve accuracy. As a patient’s data is entered and analyzed, computers can produce an objective diagnosis without any inherent bias. As Becker’s Health IT & CIO Report notes, AI technology can “recognize shifts and patterns in data more quickly and comprehensively than most humans and can even predict conditions before the patient ever starts to feel ill.”
One form of future AI-based preventive care is precision medicine (PM), which “presupposes the availability of massive computing power and algorithms that can learn by themselves at an unprecedented rate,” according to a study published in Neurology India. The study notes that health care professionals could use that technology in the prevention and treatment of disease, based on “individual variability in genes, environment, and lifestyle.”
One area of health care currently experiencing the positive impacts of AI technology is stroke management. Strokes occur when the brain’s blood supply is suddenly interrupted, usually caused either by an abrupt block of an artery connected to the brain or bleeding within the brain when a blood vessel bursts. As noted by a study published in the Journal of Stroke, “adequate analysis of stroke imaging is crucial” to managing the aftereffects of a stroke and determining a patient’s care plan moving forward.
AI applied to stroke analysis could potentially improve diagnosis accuracy as well as patient care quality. Recent AI analysis of stroke imaging data has been promising. According to the Journal of Stroke study, in the immediate future, “such AI techniques may play a pivotal role in determining the therapeutic methods and predicting the prognosis for stroke patients in an individualized manner.”
The health care system collects massive amounts of data about the human body every day. Patients contribute to that data with their health records. Their data is a small part of a much larger health care picture. AI technology can recognize connections between data that were not able to be seen before. These connections and subsequent conclusions may help advance health care practices — but only if the data is available.
As noted by a study published in Neurology India, the “increase[ed] availability of health care data and rapid progress of analytical techniques are leading to a paradigm shift in health care.” AI technology can “augment decision-making by clinicians by uncovering clinically relevant information hidden in a massive amount of data.” In addition, AI technology can further help health care professionals by compiling recent and relevant medical information from academic sources for medical professionals to use.
The Future of Health Care Is AI
AI technologies are becoming an integral part of health care’s future. As this technology becomes more refined and expands over larger data sets, the health care industry may change. Disease prevention, patient analysis, diagnoses, and treatment plans may be accelerated and more accurate thanks to AI technology. Health care professionals may be more efficient as AI aids in research and administrative tasks. Professionals looking to stay up to date with these technological advancements may choose to pursue a high-level health care program that integrates cutting-edge technologies with current best practices. Ohio University’s online Master of Health Administration is designed to prepare students to become future leaders in health care, including leading the way in health care AI understanding.