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    home  /  Insights  /  Applications of AI in Healthcare

    Applications of AI in Healthcare

    By Hon Nguyen

    Artificial Intelligence (AI) is rapidly transforming the healthcare industry by providing innovative solutions to complex problems. AI is actively employed to enhance patient outcomes and streamline healthcare delivery by analyzing vast data sets and generating predictive insights. This blog post explores the various applications of artificial intelligence in healthcare and its transformative impact on the field of medicine.

    I. AI in Disease Diagnosis and Treatment

    One of the most promising and impactful areas of AI is disease diagnosis and treatment. There are many studies that have shown an association between visit duration and quality of healthcare. The length of time you spend with your doctor, known as the consultation time, can affect how well your doctor understands your condition, how well they communicate with you, and how effective your treatment is likely to be. However, longer consultation times are not always possible, especially in busy healthcare settings. Doctors often have limited time to spend with each patient, and this can lead to rushed consultations and less time for effective communication and treatment planning. AI can help doctors and patients in many ways, such as:

    • Detecting diseases early and accurately by analyzing medical images, blood tests, or symptoms.
    • Recommending the best treatment options based on the patient’s condition, preferences, and medical history.
    • Monitoring the patient’s progress and adjusting the treatment plan accordingly. AI can help monitor the blood glucose levels of a patient with diabetes and propose to adjust insulin delivery accordingly.
    • Providing personalized and interactive health education and guidance to the patient.
    • Reducing human errors and biases in medical decision-making. AI can help reduce diagnostic errors by cross-checking multiple sources of information and flagging any inconsistencies or anomalies.

    One example of this is IBM Watson for Oncology, which uses AI to analyze a patient’s medical records and scientific literature to develop personalized treatment plans for cancer patients. Its latest capabilities include expanded coverage to include breast, lung, colon, rectal, gastric, and cervical cancer. Another example is Google’s DeepMind Health, which is developing AI-powered diagnostic tools for various conditions.

    II. AI in Medical Imaging and Radiology

    Improving the accuracy and efficiency of medical imaging and radiography is arguably the most significant application of AI in healthcare. AI has become incredibly skilled at helping radiologists improve the quality, efficiency, and accuracy of their work. There are three main applications of AI in radiology:

    • Image analysis: AI may help detect and diagnose diseases like cancer, stroke, or COVID-19 using pictures like X-rays, CT scans, MRI scans, or ultrasound. AI can also aid in the measurement and quantification of anatomical structures such as tumors, blood vessels, or organs.
    • Image reconstruction: AI can help improve image quality by decreasing noise, artifacts, and distortions. AI can also aid in the reconstruction of images from incomplete or sparse data, such as those obtained from low-dose CT scans or compressed sensing MRI scans.
    • Image synthesis: AI can assist in the generation of realistic images from many modalities, such as turning MRI scans to CT scans and vice versa. I can also help create synthetic images for training or testing purposes, such as simulating lesions or abnormalities.

    Enlitic, a startup that employs deep learning algorithms to evaluate medical images and provide diagnostic support to radiologists, is one example of this. Another example is Zebra Medical Vision, which was eventually acquired by Nanox, uses artificial intelligence to analyze medical photos and detect early indicators of diseases such as osteoporosis and breast cancer.

    III. AI in Personalized Medicine and Genomics

    AI is employed to craft personalized treatment plans for patients, tailored to their genetic and medical particulars. Personalized medicine, an emerging field, customizes medical care to individual characteristics like genetics, lifestyle, and environment. Genomics delves into an organism’s complete gene set and their interactions. Combining AI and genomics, researchers aim to uncover fresh insights into disease origins and mechanisms, ultimately leading to more effective and precise medications.

    AI’s capability lies in analyzing vast and intricate genomic datasets, including DNA sequencing of thousands of individuals. It aids in identifying patterns and connections between genetic variations and traits, like diseases or responses to medications. For instance, AI can uncover novel biomarkers for diagnosis, prognosis, or treatment selection. It also aids in designing and refining drugs or gene therapies by considering the molecular targets and pathways associated with a disease.

    One of the notable projects in this area is The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), a landmark cancer genomics program that molecularly characterized over 20,000 primary cancers spanning 33 cancer types. This joint effort between NCI and the National Human Genome Research Institute began in 2006, bringing together researchers from diverse disciplines and multiple institutions.

    IV. AI in Drug Discovery and Development

    AI is transforming the field of drug discovery and development by enabling faster, cheaper and more effective processes. It can help researchers identify new targets, design novel molecules, optimize drug candidates, predict outcomes and improve clinical trials. Here are some specific applications:

    • Identifying new targets for drug development by analyzing large amounts of biological data, such as genomic sequences, protein structures, gene expression and biomarkers. AI can also help discover new mechanisms of action and pathways involved in diseases. For example, a team of researchers used AI and a cross-species approach for the screening and experimental validation of new mitophagy-inducing compounds to identify a new target for treating Alzheimer’s disease.
    • Design of novel molecules that have the desired properties and functions for a specific target. AI can use techniques such as generative adversarial networks (GANs), deep reinforcement learning (DRL) and molecular docking to create and optimize new compounds. For example, a company called Insilico Medicine used AI to design six novel molecules for fibrosis in 21 days, which would normally take years using traditional methods.
    • Optimize drug candidates by predicting their pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, toxicity and efficacy. AI can use techniques such as machine learning, deep learning and natural language processing to analyze data from various sources, such as literature, databases, experiments and clinical trials. For example, BenevolentAI used AI to optimize a drug candidate for Parkinson’s disease.
    • Improve clinical trials by selecting the best patients, sites and protocols for a given drug candidate. AI can use techniques such as computer vision, sentiment analysis and chatbots to monitor and communicate with patients, collect data and provide feedback. AiCure used AI to improve patient adherence and retention in clinical trials by using facial recognition and voice analysis to verify medication intake and assess symptoms.

    V. Other Applications

    In addition to the applications mentioned above, AI also brings many other benefits in the healthcare field such as:

    • Electronic Health Records (EHR) and Medical Billing: AI can analyze medical records to identify errors or inconsistencies between a patient’s records. This improves the quality of the EHR and significantly reduces the EHR setup time. In addition, AI can also automate the payment process to increase customer satisfaction.
    • Remote patient monitoring and telemedicine: AI can analyze patient data such as vital signs and medication adherence to identify patterns and predict patient outcomes. Biofourmis is a company that uses AI to monitor patient data and predict which patients are at risk of hospital readmission.

    VI. Conclusion

    AI holds tremendous potential in the field of healthcare, and its applications are expected to expand in the years ahead. There is an anticipation that AI could eventually have the capability to predict and prevent diseases before they manifest, leading to a significant transformation in the delivery of healthcare.

    While there are challenges to be addressed, such as the need for widely available and interoperable data, as well as the need for healthcare professionals to be trained in the use of AI-powered tools. There is also a need to address the ethical and legal implications of AI in healthcare.

    The potential benefits of AI in healthcare are significant, such as the potential to improve patient outcomes, reduce costs, and enhance the efficiency of healthcare delivery. By addressing the challenges and maximizing the opportunities, AI has the potential to transform healthcare in a positive way.


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