Ah elementary my binary digital friend, through the use of algorithms and software AI’s role in healthcare is really to play the role of the human but at a very precise level when exposed to medical data. It does this by providing a computer a conceptual framework for processing and making decisions based off this.
Broadly speaking, there are two wide categories of applications of AI in healthcare. First is AI on structured data (information with a high degree of organisation) primarily driven by deep learning algorithms (image analytics & predictive analysis).
There is also a particularly interesting area within medicine that uses cognitive computing (natural language) within healthcare. This can be seen by virtue of apps that play the role of GPs saving you the trip to a gloomy doctor’s surgery.
Seriously, is there anything AI can do to transform the entertainment in a hospital waiting room from 3rd rate magazines?
When you think of the impact AI will have on healthcare you don’t even have to consign it exclusively to disease identification. The advent of wearables, more precise measurement of your health care habits and ultimately the connectivity of things means the application of AI can help personalise a lifestyle to potentially prevent diseases.
We are able to now better track our health & wellbeing. What AI allows us to do is join the dots to help create a lifestyle that is more in tune with ourselves, our own idiosyncratic ways, for a better quality of life. This isn’t limited to physical health, we are even trying to combat mental health by using proactive techniques (sentiment analysis) to help identify situations where further support may be needed.
In this notoriously underfunded, oversubscribed industry, there is a genuine case for AI to be used to break down the vast stores of data to accurately diagnose conditions and free up time for healthcare professionals to deal with those issues which still require a human touch.
In the case of online doctors vs GPs, of course there is a certain degree of risk but the intention is not to reduce human contact but to increase contact where there is genuine need.