01 Mar 2017
AI in healthcare

AI in the modern world: AI and its role in healthcare

Artificial Intelligence has found a home in the healthcare sector. Often considered under strain, and stretched to its limits, it is no surprise that AI has made some impressive inroads into the medical profession.

From diagnosis to treatment, there has been a desperate need for innovation in healthcare – and it has arrived in the form of chatbots, virtual assistants, wearables, diagnostic imaging, and more. While we are still a long way off robot doctors dishing out your antibiotics, AI is on hand to help with our coughs and sneezes – and maybe even save lives.


The super investment

It can’t be a surprise that investment into the use of AI in health has been one of the most popular. Early research was touting ‘computers’ as drastically improving costs and patient outcomes, and fast forwarding just a few short years sees healthcare as ‘the hottest area of investment within AI’.

According to CB Insights, the last five years have seen investors pour in $1.5billion across nearly 190 deals into healthcare-focused AI startups, and with the impressive outcomes the industry seen so far, it seems to be money very well spent.


AI and data

There are thousands and thousands of medical diseases, disorders, and conditions in the world. That is a serious amount of data. Could you remember all the symptoms and treatments for these? No, we couldn’t either.

Every day, doctors and health professionals are faced with this challenge, which presents a need to have access to, and be able to process, all that data quickly. In steps AI, and its algorithms. It can take medical records and years of research, and turn it into electronic and online programs and apps.

Watson, IBM’s super-intelligent computer, moved immediately from winning TV game shows into getting its medical degree. Scrolling through extensive research, data, textbooks in a matter of seconds means diagnosing symptoms easier, and these AI algorithms are now moving towards offering recommendations on treatments.


Fancy a chat(bot)?

Hospital waiting rooms could be taking on a whole new streamlined look in 2017 all thanks to AI and chatbots.

It has been difficult to ignore the pressure placed on our A&E department (and with it the pages of bad press), so earlier this year, the NHS turned to AI to trial a new chatbot. Over 1 million people have been given access to a free app that allows them to take part in a chatbot consultation via text – saving the government two of their favourite things: time and money.


AI is on a quest

One area of AI in healthcare gaining attention from VCs has been drug discovery. Soaring costs and longer testing times –  it takes over $2.6 billion and 14 years to develop a new drug – with only a few making it to market, means we are moving further away from finding a cure for many serious diseases.

However, AI is stepping in. Supercomputers and deep learning can look through databases, journals and patient records to find what molecules could be most effective for treatment, and even which patients could be the best ones for trials.

This technology has been labelled a game changer by many in the profession, and has already made a difference. In just seven years (half that of usual drug development timings) a cancer drug was developed for a fraction of the cost through using AI in testing.

Artificial intelligence is a technology that works for the healthcare sector and with the impressive inroads already made, there is no going back.

What is most exciting about the arrival of AI is its ability to disrupt both sides of the experience – the doctor and the patient – as well as its ability to bring them together.

It definitely leaves us feeling a little better.

AI in healthcare