No one doubts that artificial intelligence has unimaginable potential. Within the next couple of years, it will revolutionize every area of our life, including medicine. Although many have their fears and doubts about AI taking over the world, Stephen Hawking even said that the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race. However, I am fully convinced if humanity prepares appropriately for the AI-age, artificial intelligence will prove to be the next successful area of cooperation between humans and machines.
Concerning healthcare, artificial intelligence will redesign it completely – and for the better. AI could help medical professionals in designing treatment plans and finding the best suited methods for every patient. It might assist repetitive, monotonous jobs, so physicians and nurses can concentrate on their actual jobs instead of e.g. fighting with the tread-wheel of bureaucracy.
Mining medical records is the most obvious application of AI in medicine. Collecting, storing, normalizing, tracing its lineage – it is the first step in revolutionizing existing healthcare systems.
Just look at this picture taken in a Hungarian hospital in the capital city, Budapest. The personnel manages patients’ appointments MANUALLY on a huge black board, and I do not even want to comment on the index-card holder. The whole scene is rather from an early 20th century hospital than a healthcare institution way in the second decade of the 21st century.
It is obvious that such systems are unsustainable, and artificial intelligence could offer help. And some entrepreneurs already realized the huge transformative as well as financial potential in medical AI. Researcher Frost & Sullivan said artificial intelligence systems will generate $6.7 billion in global revenue from healthcare by 2021, compared with $811 million in 2015. The market is truly booming, hence start-ups grow out of nowhere like mushrooms. So, let me introduce you to companies which are on the best way to democratize healthcare through artificial intelligence. It is truly worth keeping an eye on them, since they are great partners in building a more transparent and effective healthcare.
In the age of Big Data, it is no question how valuable patient data is. When such tech giants as Google or IBM appear in the field of patient data mining, everyone knows, it is something worth doing.
Recently, the AI research branch of the company launched its Google Deepmind Health project, which is used to mine medical records in order to provide better and faster health services. These words are not just empty phrases; Google Deepmind is able to process hundreds of thousands of medical information within minutes. Although research into such data-harvesting and machine learning is in its early phase, at the moment Google is cooperating with the Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust to improve eye treatment.
Also, Verily, the life sciences arm of Google’s umbrella corporation, Alphabet is working on its genetic data-collecting initiative, the Baseline Study. It aims to use some of the same algorithms that power Google’s famous search button in order to analyse what makes people healthy. This also includes experimenting with disease monitoring technologies, including a digital contact lens that could detect blood sugar levels.
IBM Watson launched a project called WatsonPaths in collaboration with the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University. WatsonPaths consists of two cognitive computing technologies that can be used by the AI algorithm, Watson, which are expected to help physicians make more informed and accurate decisions faster and to cull new insights from electronic medical records (EMR).
However, the market of AI is full of promising newcomers eager to change healthcare for the better.
A cloud-based predictive analytics platform for health systems and physician organizations: this is the offer of the start-up from Chicago. It is so promising that in August 2016, it secured 4.3 million dollars for financing its operation. Careskore basically predicts through its Zeus algorithm in real time, based on combination of clinical, labs, demographic and behavioural data, how likely a patient will be readmitted to a hospital. Through such data, hospitals are able to improve the quality of care, while patients could also get a clearer picture about their health. Especially if they sign up for Careskore’s personalized, AI-based communication service platform with notifications about their risks and issues.
After 5 years of mining Johnson & Johnson’s diverse data sets to help physicians identify better therapies, William King launched Zephyr Health in 2011 to help life science companies improve research and reduce the time it takes to bring their therapies to market. The start-up tapped into a rich field with such talent and vision that King was selected as one of 2016’s 100 Most Inspiring People in the life-sciences industry by PharmaVOICE magazine readers. The start-up combines databases, machine-learning algorithms and as its biggest plus, great data visualization to help healthcare companies gain insight into a diverse set of data more quickly.
The Philadelphia-based start-up aims to help cancer research and treatment, especially in radiation therapy. One of its co-founders, David Lindsay was doing clinical work as an M.D./Ph.D student at the University of Pennsylvania, when he recognized that radiation oncologists had no integrated digital database that collected and organized electronic medical records. So he decided to build exactly that: a data analytics platform that can help doctors design sound radiation treatment plans for patients. And Oncora Medical is thriving! In 2016, the start-up closed a seed round of $1.2 million from investors. In 2017, it plans to roll out their Precision Radiation Oncology platform to three major medical centers to help 10,000 patients receive personalized treatments.
“The remote patient intelligence company”, tells the slogan of the start-up. It actually aims to bring the medical community closer to the future, where smart algorithms tell people they are going to be sick even before they experience symptoms. Sentrian, which was launched two years ago with 12 million dollars, focuses on chronic diseases. Its outspoken goal is to eliminate all preventable hospital admissions through remote patient monitoring. It does this in a two-step process. First of all, it harvests patients’ data from the more and more widely available biosensors, and then to deal with this sea of data, it teaches machines to do the work of a dedicated clinical team, monitoring each patient’s data continually to detect subtle signs that warn of an impending problem.
The start-up deep in the heart of the Silicon Valley focuses on optimizing patient and financial outcomes through predictive analytics. CloudMedX utilizes evidence based algorithms, machine learning and natural language processing to generate real-time clinical insights at all points of care to improve patient outcomes. “We are putting physicians back in the seat as physicians as opposed to data entry personnel,” said Co-Founder & CEO, Tashfeen Suleman to Bloomberg in a recent interview. I hope that many others will follow their lead in exempting medical professionals from administrative and data-related burdens.