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Dr. Bertalan Mesko, writing at The Medical Futurist, proclaims that artificial intelligence “will revolutionize every area of our life…it will redesign healthcare completely – and for the better.”
As we are seeing in our own day to day interactions with our MedTech startup clients, AI can improve outcomes in healthcare in a variety of ways, but one of the most promising features is its ability to sort through and organize the vast amount of data produced by modern medicine. Informational inputs can range from those familiar to anyone who has ever visited a hospital or clinic (such as the body temperature, pulse and blood pressure, and family histories), to more novel sets of data like trends in web searches and detailed genetic records.
Big data, Part 1:
Johns Hopkins professor Dr. Suchi Saria, named as both one of “AI’s 10 to Watch” and among Popular Mechanic’s “Brilliant 10”, focuses on using big data in hospital settings. Dr. Saria says, “we’re at a unique time when the adoption of electronic health records has grown to nearly 80 percent in hospitals and over 50 percent in outpatient clinics. Further, we’re continually collecting more health and behavioral data through devices. By combing through this vast array of data, algorithms can often help us find patterns that pinpoint early signs of declining health and how a patient might respond to specific therapies.”
Her own work has focused on an underestimated killer, septic shock, or sepsis, which accounts for a staggering 200,000 American fatalities every year—more than the combined death tolls of AIDS, breast cancer, and prostate cancer. Dr. Saria uses the computational power of AI to generate a Targeted Real-time Early Warning System, TREWS, for short. The algorithm correctly predicted septic shock in 85 percent of cases, with a rate of false positive results no higher than common screening methods. Time is of the essence in stopping sepsis, and the AI-backed TREWS method was able to predict septic shock before any organ dysfunction in more than two-thirds of cases, a significant 60 percent improvement over traditional screening protocols.
While AI can address large scale public health issues like sepsis, it can also provide new resources for individual patients and health care providers. Dr. Karim Galil is attempting to tackle the twin problems of disorganized medical records and the sheer number of potentially life-saving treatments being tested at any one time at his San Francisco-based startup, Mendel. Mendel uses AI technology to discover the unique needs of cancer patients and pair them with researchers working on cures for specific forms and presentations of the disease. There are, however, as many cultural hurdles to clear as there are technological. As Dr. Galil explains it, “The biggest challenge has been getting the data team to understand medicine and getting the medical team to understand AI.”
AI vs Standard Healthcare
Finding ways to merge technology and the patient experience is another huge promise of AI. Some companies are finding new ways for health care providers to interact with patients who may not be served through normal channels. Data quality, not quantity, is proving to be the proof in the pudding for the rapid rise of AI technologies.
For instance, CaptureProof is a platform that aims to reduce costly ER visits, identify urgent patients with 78% more accuracy, and reduce non-urgent follow-up visits by 75% with their intuitive photo and video solution that captures and communicates patient health status in real-time with healthcare providers. CaptureProof’s “asynchronous telemedicine” uses an advanced computer vision system to allow for healthcare providers and doctors to monitor and track patient progress, provide instant feedback, update health records, and send instructional media. Patients can also monitor healing progress over time on their own, and coordinate reports to share with additional health care providers (including home health aides, social workers, physical therapists, etc).
Interactive AI for mental health treatment is also becoming a big player in the market, with AI chatbots like Sibly and HelloJoy.ai offering live coaching to help patients manage, track, and measure their mental health improvement progress. These AI services check in with patients daily, and based on responses, can measure how a patient is feeling and recommend long term remedies and therapies based on weekly reports. Business Insider notes the response of Alison Darcy, a Stanford clinical psychologist, to the powerful effects of these chatbot services: “The data blew us away. We were like, this is it.” While these tools are not meant to be replacement for traditional therapies just yet, they are amazing additions to the toolkit of approaches to mental health.
If the present times are any indication of the future, the AI revolution is likely to provide us with a host of advancements in medical fields and beyond. Should you be interested in discussing any launch-related strategies for your healthcare solution, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
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