Leading the path of disruption, technology now plays a key role in the diagnostic process. It is helping medical professionals by enhancing efficiency, ensuring accuracy, and increasing productivity with the use of clinical decision support, electronic medical records (EHRs), laboratory and medical imaging information systems, patient engagement tools, medical devices, and health information exchanges.
The information that technology-led devices capture directly affects decision-making in the diagnostic process, leading to an abundance of progress when it comes to diagnostics and treatments.
Further, the way AI is helping in the fight against the pandemic and the pace at which it is being adopted by healthtech companies provides a glimpse of the potential it holds in improving various aspects of healthcare.
Technology improving healthcare
The healthcare industry has made notable achievements over the last few years and majority of these successes are driven by breakthrough innovations in technology.
Today cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS), machine learning, telemedicine, and data analytics are being used to improve diagnostics, treatment, patient experience and healthcare infrastructure.
Surprisingly, many care delivery centres have moved to mobile apps and online service delivery systems for sharing health tips, early diagnosis of a disease, test reports and analytics, appointment booking etc.
Even the Government of India is actively engaged in tapping the benefits of technology in healthcare. For example, Union Budget 2018 allocated Rs 3,073 crore for developing a digital economy with emerging technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), blockchain, and 3D printing.
According to Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare Market, a report by Markets and Markets, the global AI in healthcare market size is expected to reach $45.2 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 44.9 percent from 2020 ($4.9 billion). To effectively fight the biggest challenges facing public health, we must implement human-machine collaborations rapidly or in simple words, equip researchers, data scientists, and clinicians with powerful AI tools.
AI in healthcare today
The consistent rise in the ageing population signifies the fact that we have to deal with more patients with complex needs. Managing such patients requires a shift from an episodic care-based philosophy to one that is more focused on long-term care management.
As a result, it is imperative to make major structural changes in healthcare systems so that they remain sustainable. Additionally, it needs a larger workforce. According to WHO, though there could be over 40 million new health sector jobs by 2030, it still falls short of 9.9 million nurses, physicians and midwives globally. Building on AI has the potential to address some of the challenges mentioned above.
According to a McKinsey report, the fastest growth of healthcare AI is emerging in Asia, where leading tech players have consumer-focused healthcare AI offerings.
Considering these innovations, there is a wide scope of AI to impact healthcare – from online symptom checkers and apps that help manage self-care to virtual assistants for hospitals and a bionic pancreas for patients with diabetes. The increasing adoption of AI-driven healthcare solutions indicates that the pace of change is accelerating.
COVID-19 accelerating use of tech in healthcare
The pandemic is playing a key role in enhancing the use of technology in diagnostics. As countries world over initiated their response to the pandemic, their medical experts leaned on strong and advanced technologies like Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to track and fight the spread of the virus.
Since the coronavirus outbreak, AI has been adopted for automated healthcare services, laboratory drug discovery, prediction, alerts, screening, and faster diagnosis.
Further, AI is helping to mitigate the risk of infectious diseases by analysing news reports, social media platforms, and government documents.
Moreover, healthtech companies and governments are integrally involved with medical experts, clinicians, academics, and government entities to activate technology to fight the pandemic as well as improve healthcare delivery and diagnostics.
AI is rapidly changing traditional ways of doing every task manually as well as ensuring they are accomplished in a sophisticated manner, more efficiently, and more quickly. It is playing a significant role in the early detection of diseases, research and training, and clinical decision-making through predictive analysis and treatment.
The potential for AI in healthcare is vast. Its mastery in capturing and predicting real, intended data can help systems to deliver commendable results in the form of medical procedures, surgeries, and effective treatments and to detect disorders or rectify medical errors and promote efficiency in the healthcare supply chain.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YS.)