From Sci-Fi movies to shopping suggestions, Artificial Intelligence seems to be ubiquitous in 2019. AI systems aim to mimic human cognitive actions, to take some pressure off our pesky little brains. And surprisingly, AI has done a commendable job in achieving its goals.

Nearly all of the biggest industries have been disrupted by ‘smarter’ machines, and healthcare – the most intricate sectors of them all – is no different. The ever-increasing usage of AI systems has sent shockwaves across healthcare, instigating discussions whether they’ll eventually make human doctors obsolete. Yes, the prospect of being diagnosed by a non judgemental robot doctor does seem very exciting, but, sadly, we probably won’t be that fortunate for a long, long time. So, let us snap back to reality and take a look at exactly how AI is helping the smartest species on earth to lead a healthier life.

A Quick Rundown

Data Management

Data management is the most widely used application of AI. When collecting and analysing medical record and history, we need to be as immaculate as possible. So, assigning such mundane yet crucial tasks to AI-based systems helps to maintain consistency; as they effectively discard human error from the procedure.

Analysing reports, X-Rays, and recording of data can all be done more precisely by AI-based smarter robots, which allows us, humans, to solely focus on more complex subjects.

Consultation and Assistance

We have already discussed the exciting yet far-fetched prospect of autonomous AI doctors. Yes, current systems aren’t sophisticated enough to work independently, but they are still doing some jaw-dropping work.

AI-powered apps like Babylon ask users questions about their circumstances. After collecting sufficient data, they analyse millions of symptoms to provide helpful medical information matching the symptoms entered. 

Smart people at Sensely have developed Molly — a digital nurse that monitors patients’ condition and follows up with suggested treatment. Thanks to machine learning, it gets “smarter” with every use, helping its users get a more personal insight.

Apart from these dedicated systems, there are wearable fitness bands — Fitbit, Apple, Garmin, Xiaomi etc — that monitor activity levels and heart rate. If and when required, they intimate users to exercise more and can even share the results to doctors for in-depth assessment.

Advanced Care – Oncology

IBM Watson — industry-leading AI-based supercomputer — uses cognitive computing to analyse millions of pieces of data in seconds and can suggest up to 300 alternative therapies.

Amidst the shortage of oncologists worldwide, Watson has emerged as a lifesaver, literally. It supports at least 12 cancer types, covering 80% of the global cancer occurrences. To top it off, Watson’s Clinical Trial Matching significantly reduces the time required to screen patients for clinical trials by a whopping 78%.

Drug Discovery

Developing pharmaceutical drugs through clinical trials can require immense patience and cost billions of dollars. However, with the help of natural language processing, evidence-backed data, and dynamic visualisation, researchers can achieve the desired outcome a lot quicker.

Amidst the recent Ebola virus care, Atomwise — an AI-powered drug discovery program — was used to scan all existing medicines that could be redesigned to cope with the epidemic. In just a day, the program identified two medications capable of counteracting the disease, once again demonstrating AI’s effectiveness.

AI-powered systems are still far from perfect. They still aren’t as independent as we’d like, and also aren’t always the most reliable. However, despite their shortcomings, it is safe to say that AI-based systems are the way forward, serving as powerful tools for creating a fitter and healthier tomorrow.