AI In Healthcare: Revolutionizing Diagnosis, Treatment, & Drug Discovery

Table of Contents

2.1. The new age of healthcare

Big data and machine learning are having an impact on most aspects of modern life, from entertainment, commerce, and healthcare. Netflix knows which films and series people prefer to watch, Amazon knows which items people like to buy when and where, and Google knows which symptoms and conditions people are searching for. All this data can be used for very detailed personal profiling, which may be of great value for behavioral understanding and targeting but also has potential for predicting healthcare trends. There is great optimism that the application of artificial intelligence (AI) can provide substantial improvements in all areas of healthcare from diagnostics to treatment. There is already a large amount of evidence that AI algorithms are performing on par or better than humans in various tasks, for instance, in analyzing medical images or correlating symptoms and biomarkers from electronic medical records (EMRs) with the characterization and prognosis of the disease [1].

The demand for healthcare services is ever increasing and many countries are experiencing a shortage of healthcare practitioners, especially physicians. Healthcare institutions are also fighting to keep up with all the new technological developments and the high expectations of patients with respect to levels of service and outcomes as they know it from consumer products including those of Amazon and Apple [2]. The advances in wireless technology and smartphones have provided opportunities for on-demand healthcare services using health tracking apps and search platforms and have also enabled a new form of healthcare delivery, via remote interactions, available anywhere and anytime. Such services are relevant for underserved regions and places lacking specialists and help reduce costs and prevent unnecessary exposure to contagious illnesses at the clinic. Telehealth technology is also relevant in developing countries where the healthcare system is expanding and where healthcare infrastructure can be designed to meet the current needs [3]. While the concept is clear, these solutions still need substantial independent validation to prove patient safety and efficacy.

The healthcare ecosystem is realizing the importance of AI-powered tools in the next-generation healthcare technology. It is believed that AI can bring improvements to any process within healthcare operation and delivery. For instance, the cost savings that AI can bring to the healthcare system is an important driver for implementation of AI applications. It is estimated that AI applications can cut annual US healthcare costs by USD 150 billion in 2026. A large part of these cost reductions stem from changing the healthcare model from a reactive to a proactive approach, focusing on health management rather than disease treatment. This is expected to result in fewer hospitalizations, less doctor visits, and less treatments. AI-based technology will have an important role in helping people stay healthy via continuous monitoring and coaching and will ensure earlier diagnosis, tailored treatments, and more efficient follow-ups.

The AI-associated healthcare market is expected to grow rapidly and reach USD 6.6 billion by 2021 corresponding to a 40% compound annual growth rate [4].