The rise of AI in medicine: how robots are helping to improve healthcare 2018-07-18T11:04:23+01:00
ai and medicine

Robots and Healthcare

The healthcare industry is embracing AI across a number of disciplines. There’s the robotic PRECEYES, which can improve the efficacy of eye surgery. There are machines that can diagnose heart disease and lung cancer with greater accuracy than their human counterparts. Now there could be AI assistance in the exam room too. Intended to expand, sharpen and ease the minds of doctors, robots will in turn benefit patients with more accurate diagnoses and fast recall of information to improve treatments.

Improving diagnosis

Researchers at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford have been working on an intelligent diagnostic system that can identify and diagnose heart disease. At least 80 percent of the time, its accuracy was higher than that of human doctors.

In another study, published at the end of last year, a deep learning machine was found to diagnose metastatic breast cancer more accurately than human radiologists when a time limit was imposed. With unrestricted time to view a case, radiologists performed well, but the critical part of the test was the time frame. In the real world, overburdened medical professionals have to make rapid diagnoses for patients, and with the help of AI, this could improve accuracy and therefore the speed of treatment.

Monitoring mental health

It’s not just physical health that AI is helping with. The Cogito Companion, for example, is an app used to track a patient’s mental health by monitoring their location and communication. It can indicate if a patient hasn’t left their home for a few days or called anyone, therefore suggesting a decline in mental health and the possible need for intervention.

The app has been tested in the US and has resonated with the veteran population, which is at higher risk of social isolation than other community sectors. Cogito reported that the app appeared to help veterans feel more empowered, in turn making them more likely to reach out for help when their mental health was suffering.

Extending the abilities of humans

AI’s market value in medicine has been predicted to reach $6.6 billion in 2021. But care needs to be taken with its development. Machines are subject to human biases, partly because of the lack of materials used to train them. It’s been raised that medical research is largely dominated by white men and that most of the patients participating in clinical trials are also white men. This has been found to cause issues by recent studies that have found, for example, that women may respond to anxiety drugs in a different way to men.

As such, humans are leading the charge and many experts are keen to ensure AI is built into healthcare in a useful way that – as yet – doesn’t rule out the need for humans. Only with adequate research and development can algorithms and surgical robots be introduced and approved.

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