Image Credit: Interesting Engineering
By Angela Choi
What first comes to mind when you consider how we use AI in our daily lives? Most of us think of Alexa, self-driving cars, or even our own Netflix recommendations. But AI has so much more to offer to countless industries, as it has the potential to revolutionize the health care sector forever.
AI-powered personal healthcare apps enable smart and efficient work processes that can improve patient experience and provide better services. These apps continuously collect data and check the vitals of the user, achieving a similar purpose to that of other virtual assistants like wearables and discrete monitors. The data collected, which is stored locally or online, can then be retrieved by medical professionals as a medical report.
For instance, WebMD, one of the most well-known symptom-checkers that millions of people use every day, built an app that uses machine learning to provide trusted information that has been reviewed by qualified physicians. Additional features of the app include medication reminders, fitness tracking, updates on the latest news in healthcare, and a directory of local physicians to help users arrange appointments.
Ada, which was developed in 2016 to relieve pressure on healthcare professionals, is another medical app that is now used in 140 countries to provide care to patients at home. With the app’s instant messaging design, Ada asks simple, relevant questions about the user’s symptoms to gain a better understanding of their health. Then, Ada determines the potential medical issue by pulling data from its virtual medical library, which stores data from thousands of similar cases. Through classification, clustering, and information extraction, this AI-powered doctor can offer advice to the user on what to do next, whether it be self-medication or seeking assistance from a nearby health professional.
Not only do these AI-based apps make healthcare more accessible to all, but they also can help address the issue of lack of expertise in certain areas of medicine. SkinVision, for example, is an app that can instantly diagnose skin issues without the patient having to see a dermatologist in person. Users simply upload an image of a potential skin problem, and the app will use AI to conduct a scan looking for signs of cancer. This assessment will generate a report of low, medium, or high risk, allowing users to immediately notify a doctor when a risk is detected. As more and more pictures are added to the app’s online database, it will be able to diagnose a wider variety of skin conditions with higher accuracy. Additionally, SkinVision encourages users to stay on top of their skin health by setting reminders for users to periodically retake the assessment.
Beyond the personal healthcare apps that we have now, the applications of artificial intelligence in the medical field will only continue to expand and help medical professionals treat patients more effectively. In fact, the total public and private sector investment in AI in the healthcare industry is predicted to reach $6.6 billion by 2021.
Although the future of AI in healthcare is uncertain, one thing is clear: there are many new, exciting breakthroughs that lie ahead.