Busting the Myths of AI in Healthcare
February 23, 2021
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by Snigdh Baunthiyal

Artificial Intelligence is a term being thrown about quite loosely these days. From Medicine to household work, it seems to be everywhere. With the pandemic, science and medicine is on everybody’s mind and AI is the latest entrant in an already complicated and hard to understand field. So, what exactly is Artificial Intelligence and how does it work?

Explaining AI

Artificial intelligence is a combination of software and complex algorithms which help process complex medical data. Just as we now use calculators to calculate advanced mathematical equations, AI uses complicated medical data to arrive at conclusions. But we must remember, Artificial Intelligence in medicine does not work as a decision maker and it is not being used to replace doctors.

In 2016, Medical Error was the leading cause of death in the United States of America.  Incomplete medical histories and large caseloads led to human errors that literally result in the death of patients. AI’s infrastructure helps keep such variables at bay, meaning it can predict and diagnose disease at a faster rate than most qualified medical professionals.

How does it work?

AI’s ability to process medical data is one of medicine’s most immediate advantages. Valuable information usually gets lost among a sea of data, and on an average, the medical industry loses around $100 billion a year. Artificial Intelligence helps in breaking down data silos and connects information.
While this process took years, it now takes a few minutes. What kind of data though? It’s everything from trying to understand the hospital’s healthcare costs, patterns in cancer cells, taking symptoms and doing a general health care analysis of an individual.

While AI in medicine is no longer a novel trend, its success is never really celebrated as much. AI has been incorporated in the world of medicine so well, that it is now helping medical practitioners to understand and treat the causes of disease and not just symptoms. It’s used in surgery diagnosis and drug discovery, to name but these.

AI is helping doctors, not replacing them

According to many studies, AI in healthcare will not cut jobs related to doctor-patient relationships, or even that of doctors. For all their ingenuity, machines lack empathy and are generally shrouded in mistrust by the general population. AI in healthcare will assist doctors in making better decisions, and as mentioned before, will help them avoid human error. Moreover, a single AI unit can help serve a larger population than just humans, which will help in identifying symptoms faster and more accurately, streamlining the process in areas with a larger population.

The future of AI

This leaves no doubt that AI is certainly a rapidly growing field. In fact, in 2016, healthcare AI projects attracted more investment than AI projects within any other sector of the global economy and it’s only increasing. 2021 is already slated to be a big year for Artificial Intelligence. With the current pandemic, countries are more interested in investing and researching in healthcare. The US alone, for example, is planning on investing upwards of $2 Billion in 2021compared to the $463 Million in 2019.

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