Over the years, the landscape of the healthcare sector has witnessed a drastic transformation, thanks to the adoption and implementation of disruptive technologies. Powered by new-age technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Robotics, IoT, and Big Data, Medical Science has advanced by leaps and bounds.
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Today, people across the world have access to affordable and quality healthcare and medicines. Naturally, we now enjoy a higher life expectancy.
However, this success story comes with unique challenges. With increased life expectancies, healthcare institutions globally face the growing demand for quality medical services, rising costs, and an overworked human resource pool that struggles to cater to patients’ ever-increasing needs.
To add to those challenges, the UN estimates that by 2050 one out of six people in the world will be over age 65 (16%), and one in four persons living in Europe and Northern America will be 65 years or more.
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What does this mean?
It means that the healthcare infrastructure must be able to accommodate the complex needs of aging patients. Not only is it expensive to manage and care for the ageing population, but it also requires a proactive approach to long-term care management.
The rapidly skyrocketing demand for innovative healthcare systems and services is further driven by a stark shift in lifestyle choices and changing patient expectations. Thus, healthcare systems need a major structural and transformational change to remain sustainable and keep pace with evolving times.
Enter Artificial Intelligence.
Artificial Intelligence holds the potential to revolutionize healthcare and help find solutions to the challenges faced by the healthcare industry. Focusing on automation, Big Data, and Data Analytics, AI surpasses the limitations of traditional analytics and diagnosis techniques.
Furthermore, by automating the routine and monotonous healthcare tasks (record-keeping, medication management, etc.), AI enables healthcare practitioners to spend more time looking after patients, monitoring their vital stats, and deliver quality treatment to them.
By leveraging advanced ML algorithms and training them on extensive data, healthcare institutions can gain unprecedented insights into diagnostics, treatment methods, and patient outcomes.
AI has already penetrated the healthcare and pharma sector to drive improvements across the different facets of the care continuum. According to Accenture, the global AI healthcare market is projected to reach $6.6 billion by 2022 at a 40% CAGR.
AI plays a crucial role in democratizing information and mitigating resource burdens in the healthcare domain.
In light of the growing adoption of AI technology by healthcare organizations and institutes, new and challenging job roles are cropping up in the healthcare sector. This presents a wonderful opportunity for aspirants wishing to enter the AI domain and transform the world with innovative solutions.
The best stepping stone into the world of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning is to enrol in AI and ML certification programs.
Most AI/ML certification courses are designed to make candidates job-ready by introducing them to the fundamentals of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning and train them how to use the latest AI and ML tools.
If you aspire to master the nitty-gritty of AI and create unique healthcare solutions, here are three courses that deserve your attention:
- PG Diploma in Machine Learning & AI – This 12-month course is offered in collaboration with IIIT-Bangalore. With over 450 hours of learning, this course is ideal for working professionals. It includes 30+ case studies, 25+ mentorship sessions with industry experts, and 10 practical capstone projects.
- Master of Science in Machine Learning & AI – Another upGrad offering in collaboration with IIIT-Bangalore and Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU), this is an 18-month AI/ML course. Learners experiment with trending tools like Python, Keras, TensorFlow, MySQL, NLTK, etc. Moreover, on course completion, candidates are awarded a dual alumni status!
- Master of Science in Machine Learning & AI – This 18-month course is designed in partnership with Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU). Students get to learn from top instructors of IIT Madras and LJMU. The course includes 650+ hours of learning, 25+ case studies, and 4 industry capstone projects.
Each of these courses is designed at par with the global education and professional standards. Learners get access to best-in-class learning resources and dedicated mentor support. There are live-interaction sessions and small group coaching sessions to boost engagement.
upGrad also conducts mock interviews and resume building sessions to ensure the overall grooming of its learners. The cherry on top is, these courses have industry case studies and live projects that help you become industry-ready – all this without leaving your current job!
The healthcare industry is an up-and-coming field for AI aspirants who wish to make real contributions to the medical community, and these certification programs can certainly be the first step in that direction.
AI in Healthcare
The explosion of medical data and the increasing digital expectations from healthcare providers create a strong case for smart healthcare systems fuelled by AI and data analytics.
AI in healthcare opens up promising opportunities across various specialization areas, including diagnostics, wearables, virtual assistants, therapy, and wellness & lifestyle management. AI presents a fantastic opportunity for healthcare providers to capitalize on new growth potential while delivering smart and innovative services.
Today, AI in healthcare is helping transform the following areas:
1. Primary Care
AI-powered virtual nursing assistants and smart wearables are game-changers for delivering primary care to patients. These nifty AI solutions can remotely evaluate a patient’s symptoms and vital stats and promptly alert doctors/nurses when they need immediate medical attention.
Smart virtual assistants can also offer sound medical advice for common health issues through chat-based interactions. This feature not only helps to ease the burden of medical professionals, but it also saves patients’ from unnecessary visits to the clinic.
With experience and continuous interactions, virtual nursing assistants become accustomed to patient diagnoses and conditions. Eventually, their diagnosing abilities and expertise get better, and they can offer excellent patient care recommendations.
For example, Sense.ly’s virtual nurse avatar Molly can interact with patients and answer their questions. It also allows you to interact with doctors in real-time via smartphone, tablet, or TV.
2. Drug Discovery
AI solutions help researchers and scientists discover and develop new potential therapies and drugs by accessing vast databases of information on existing medicines.
AI technologies like Machine Learning and Deep Learning are making drug discovery quick, efficient, affordable, and more targeted. These smart solutions are accelerating the launch of new drugs and vaccines to the market.
For instance, Pfizer leverages ML-powered IBM Watson to develop immuno-oncology drugs, and Sanofi has partnered with UK start-up Exscientia’s AI platform to design metabolic-disease therapies.
3. Patient Risk Identification
Healthcare providers are using AI solutions to analyze colossal 3. volumes of historical patient data to provide real-time support to doctors and medical experts to identify at-risk patients and deliver immediate care.
These solutions can identify patients with higher chances of relapse, thereby enabling doctors to prolong their treatment plans accordingly. Healthcare organizations and medical researchers are experimenting with AI predictive models to identify individuals at high-risk for COVID-19.
In the field of Radiology, AI solutions are helping automate image analysis and diagnosis. GE Healthcare maintains that “…90 percent of all healthcare data comes from medical imaging. It’s a lot of information, and more than 97 percent of it goes unanalyzed or unused.”
By integrating AI technology into medical imaging, healthcare providers can better utilize this vast pool of medical data. AI-powered medical imaging systems can generate accurate scans, enabling radiologists to visually assess medical images and report findings to detect, characterize, and monitor diseases accurately. This enables medical experts to deliver targeted treatment to at-risk patients.
5. Robotic Surgery
AI-powered robots aid surgeons to perform minimally-invasive and complex surgical procedures. The high-precision of robotic assistants enhance the performance of open surgeries. Stryker, Accuray, Mazor Robotics, Auris Health, Intuitive Surgical, Zimmer Biomet, and Stereotaxis, are a few robotic surgery companies thriving in the US.
Furthermore, AI technology has led to significant improvements in oncology, including thoracic imaging, colonoscopy, mammography, abdominal & pelvic imaging, radiation oncology, and brain imaging.
How is AI transforming the Healthcare industry?
Here are eight ways in which AI technology and solutions are helping drive the transformation of the healthcare industry:
1. It is expanding the field of medical research
The average time for a drug to travel from the lab to the market is 12 years in the United States. What’s even more astounding is that only five out of 5,000 drugs make it to the human testing phase, and just one in those five is approved for human consumption.
The lengthy research process comes with exorbitant costs. On average, it costs around US$ 359 million to develop a new drug and launch it in the market.
This is where AI is helping to speed up things. As mentioned earlier, AI solutions help streamline the drug research and discovery process, allowing pharma companies to launch their products faster than before. As the drug discovery time (from lab to patient) reduces, the manufacturing costs also drop significantly. Consequently, pharma companies can launch affordable drugs on the market.
2. It Aids Early Detection
AI technology plays a pivotal role in the early and accurate detection of various diseases, particularly cancer, during the early stages itself. The American Cancer Society maintains that a high percentage of mammograms deliver false results, which leads to 1 in 2 healthy women being wrongly diagnosed with breast cancer.
However, AI is helping combat this issue by reviewing and analyzing mammograms 30 times faster than traditional methods with 99% accuracy. Moreover, the increasing popularity of remotely controlled wearables and medical devices also help doctors supervise early-stage heart diseases, enabling them to cure the problems during the treatable stages
3. It Improves Diagnosis
Thanks to AI, medical diagnoses have improved greatly. IBM’s Watson for Health is an excellent case in point. Healthcare organizations apply Watson’s cognitive technology to collect large volumes of health data.
Watson is capable of storing and analyzing vast amounts of medical information, from symptoms and diagnosis to case study of treatment and response. Similarly, Google’s DeepMind Health has emerged as a pioneering tool to solve real-world health problems.
DeepMind partnered with experts from the US Department of Veterans Affairs to develop a technology that can accurately predict acute kidney injury (AKI) in patients nearly 48 hours earlier than the present diagnosis methods.
4. It Streamlines the Decision-Making Process
By aligning Big Data with predictive analytics, healthcare providers can improve care delivery, enhance clinical decision-making, and prioritize administrative tasks. Also, leveraging pattern recognition technology, medical experts can identify patients prone to developing severe medical conditions and identify potential triggers for the same (including environmental and genomic factors or deterioration in lifestyle).
Overall, AI optimizes the decision-making process by enabling healthcare professionals to make data-driven decisions.
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5. It Enhances Disease Management
AI’s capabilities are not limited to scanning health records and accurate diagnosis. It helps medical experts to take a highly comprehensive approach to disease management. With smart AI tools and software solutions, healthcare professionals can seamlessly coordinate treatment plans, better manage patients, and prioritize medical cases.
Thanks to Robotics, doctors can now perform complex surgeries with precision and agility. For example, robot assistants are widely used in surgeries like coronary artery bypass, hysterectomy, pyeloplasty, kidney transplant, radical cystectomy, and tubal ligation, to name a few. Plus, hospitals and clinics use robots to perform repetitive tasks that require minimal human intervention.
6. It is Empowering People
AI, along with the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) in consumer health applications, is helping people to take active charge of their health. AI-powered fitness wearables and health sensors can track vitals like heart rate, oxygen level, blood pressure, etc., thereby allowing you to monitor your health without needing to visit a doctor.
These smart technologies encourage people to adopt healthier lifestyle choices and control their health and well-being. Furthermore, AI tools aid medical professionals to understand the needs of their patients better, allowing them to provide better guidance and care support.
7. It Improves Life Care
As people’s life expectancy has increased globally, it is essential to consider the bigger picture – life care during the later stages of life. When people age, they become heavily dependent on family and healthcare providers to assist them through their difficult days.
AI-powered robots, virtual assistants, and medical devices empower the ageing population and help reduce their need for care homes. Interestingly enough, AI robots and assistants can even have human-like’ conversations’ with elderly people. This can help alleviate their loneliness to some extent.
8. It gives a New Dimension to Training Programs
By incorporating AI into training programs, healthcare providers can reap the benefits of life-like simulations that make the training process more interactive and engaging. Since AI machines can understand and mimic natural human speech and draw from an extensive database of scenarios, their responses and recommendations can challenge human trainees in myriad ways.
Likewise, through constant interaction, the AI program can learn from trainees’ responses and adjust itself accordingly.
The best thing about AI training programs is that you can begin the training process anywhere, anytime – all you need is an AI embedded smartphone and a reliable Internet connection.
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AI is here to stay. In the next few years, AI tools and innovations will further bring about many welcome transitions in the healthcare industry. However, the rapid inclusion of AI in healthcare also demands that healthcare professionals and organizations take active participation in upskilling and R&D. Only then can healthcare providers reap the true benefits of AI.