Rise Of AI And Big Data In Healthcare

Imagine living in an era, where you are in complete control of your health and well-being; an era that practices the age-old saying ‘Prevention is better than cure’ in the true sense of the term and uses technology to encourage healthier behavior in individuals! The use of AI in healthcare and Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) is a thing now, and there are a number of technology apps and solutions that aid in proactive management of a healthy lifestyle.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has perhaps been the single most dominant technological conversation in India over the past few years. Experts and stakeholders have expressed their enthusiasm for the integration of AI across verticals and in various aspects of life. However, when it comes to healthcare, the general public still have their inhibitions about the claims of AI being able to improve outcomes, when it comes to life expectancy. These reservations are mostly led by general concerns of data privacy; apprehensions of carelessness, caused by machine error and lack of human supervision. However, with times, AI is getting more and more sophisticated and has gained capabilities of almost doing everything that humans do. AI makes humans faster, faster, efficient and more cost effective. Using machine intelligence, a diagnostician can go through an exponential number of samples and be comfortable with the fact that the chances of error are almost non-existent. Owing to its constant evolution, and the ability to make humans better, AI has a lot of potential in healthcare and is increasingly becoming a part of our healthcare ecosystem.

However, the first question that would arise in any reasonable mind is – How can AI be integrated into healthcare? The answer lies in Big Data! The world is becoming more and more connected, thereby generating more information, and healthcare is no exception. With heaps of data being accumulated in the digitally connected healthcare systems, these systems are goldmines of information for medical professionals. However, making sense out of these enormous amounts of medical information is either very taxing or humanly impossible. This is where AI comes into play – It analyses Big Data, segregating and collating information, putting them under categories such as disease processes, clinical representations, and clinician’s notes, reports from a patient’s file, medical research publications and clinical trial outcome, making the data more intelligent. This intelligent data can be used by medical practitioners to create an actionable gist, and this is just the tip of the iceberg, of what AI can do in healthcare. The medical practitioner has to remain, however, to ensure that the results have a human touch and human experience, two things that can never be replicated. The machine can never replace the man. Not only does the clinician have to teach the machine first, but he has to stay to ensure the results are error-free, given that a machine can never really learn human nuances.

Given the initial conveniences of making Data intelligent, AI is now gaining strong footholds in the healthcare segment, and industry experts are in awe of its computational capabilities. More so, because these systems don’t operate on emotions and are capable of performing repetitive tasks and sifting through mammoth sized data, without an iota of boredom or fatigue, that too in a matter of seconds. There are a number of examples, demonstrating how AI is on the rise in the healthcare segment. Many healthcare institutions already have AI systems in place that have the ability to identify sight-threatening conditions with equal accuracy to human ophthalmologists. Similarly, there are AI algorithms which can scan a human chest x-ray faster than a medical professional can and detect a small tumor or an early onset of pneumonia. Furthermore, AI is able to detect fatal diseases like cancer with more accuracy and more importantly in their early stages.

With these advancements of AI into the healthcare segment, the industry is all set to undergo a massive transformation, and the most noteworthy of them all would be the evolving role of all human resources in the segment. As AI continues to penetrate deeper into the segment, it adds to the ability of healthcare professionals and makes their understanding of a patient’s day-to-day pattern and needs more comprehensive. Such a detailed perspective of a patient’s condition enables them to offer more complete and all-inclusive feedback, guidance and support to stay healthy.

The bottom-line: AI is increasingly being adopted by healthcare institutions as it aids them in enhancing their capabilities and adds value to their services. The integration of AI in healthcare should not be looked down upon as elimination of humans from healthcare; on the contrary, it is meant to serve and help the healthcare professionals become better.