Using AI to Improve Healthcare Diagnostics, Treatment, and Patient Outcomes

December 29, 2023

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is transforming the healthcare industry in new and exciting ways. From diagnostic treatment to wearable devices, the patient-doctor platform is being revolutionized, especially when it comes to personalized care on a technological level. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, “using AI to make diagnoses may reduce treatment costs by up to 50% and improve health outcomes by 40%,” making the intersection of AI and healthcare a lucrative focus with foreseeable growth.

AI Improvements in Prevention

COVID-19, in many ways, took the world by surprise and scientists were desperate to discover a treatment for this unprecedented illness. However, with the development of new technology, researchers are now able to find ways to not only treat, but help prevent pandemics like COVID-19. Science Daily describes research involving a new wearable computer chip that would collect biometric data with a super sensitive biosensor, which would then be analyzed using AI algorithms. These sensors can detect an infection in its earliest stages, resulting in possible prevention of the spread of many diseases on a larger, community-wide scale.

AI Improvements in Diagnostics

For diseases like breast cancer, many radiologists are now using AI as a secondary form of screening, to help prevent any human error in the reading of mammograms and ultrasounds. It has been observed that “preliminary results from a large study suggest AI screening is as good as two radiologists working together, does not increase false positives and almost halves the workload.” This type of computer-assisted detection (CAD) can help in identifying the 1 in 8 breast cancer cases that is often missed during regular screenings, providing a significantly better prognosis and reducing breast-cancer related deaths overall.

AI Improvements in Treatment

AI can also assist with complex surgical applications, such as placing a stent for a patient suffering from an aneurysm. In Europe, an AI program called PreSize has been found to be more accurate at placing this mesh device within a patient than a surgeon alone. It works by creating a highly accurate “digital twin” image of the brain, which allows for predictive modeling prior to surgery. This gives the surgeon a more accurate representation of the patient’s brain as well as an indication of proper device sizing to surgical placement ratio. If these measurements are off by even a millimeter, this can cause major, life-threatening complications. This type of technological integration into patient care and treatment is providing very important and exciting developments in the use of AI in healthcare.

Improving Patient Outcomes with AI in Precision Medicine

Precision medicine is the emerging practice of using a patient’s genetic data, lifestyle, environment, and other medical history factors to develop a personalized approach to their treatment. According to Advanced Science News, scientists are taking personalized medicine to the next level in the development of new treatments. It has been found that analyzing the gut biome, for example, can help indicate one's risk for disease, and with new microbiome-based predictive modeling, this could lead to more accurate and non-invasive risk predictions for illnesses like type 2 diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease. Meta-Spec is another example of an AI-based diagnostic tool being developed to improve disease screening capabilities through data collection using biometrics easily obtained from wearable devices to metadata collected by questionnaires and patient profiles.

A Personalized Approach to Medicine

More personalized approaches to medicine are being made possible through AI, which can lead to the better democratization of healthcare, putting patients in control of their health in an industry that is often overwhelmed and unable to meet the demands of a growing patient population. Companies like Amazon have already begun to implement their own means to healthcare access and affordability, such as with Amazon Clinic. Platforms like this that undercut high-priced pharmacy drugs and offer the convenience of telehealth doctor visits could be the future of the industry. Forbes explains that AI could help improve processes overall, not just with diagnostics but with administrative tasks as well, eliminating margins of error and leading to more cost-effective, quality healthcare with less overprescribing. Also, AI software and telehealth gives patients in rural areas more access where clinics and hospitals are few and far between. This, in turn, gives the patient more options in terms of their treatment affordability and availability.

Privacy Considerations of AI in Healthcare

With the increasing integration of technology and data collection in our healthcare industry, certain precautions and ethical considerations must be made in order to protect the privacy and health of all patients. Online data is subject to a plethora of issues such as hacking, privacy and surveillance, “deep fakes”, biases and discrimination, errors in algorithms, data security, storage and portability, compliance with HIPAA, informed consent, accessibility, and accountability. These are all important factors for consideration on a political, legal, and societal level. The National Library of Health (NLM) stresses that “ensuring the safety of the patients' data is still a significant concern when using robots,” as the regulations regarding their use have not caught up to the full scope of their potential. Thus, understanding these pitfalls and navigating the complex landscape of cybersecurity and AI and their use within the healthcare industry is vital to the protection and evolution of patient care.

The Need for Educated Professionals

A strong workforce is achieved through professional education, and is needed to meet the demands of today’s industries. Capitol Technology University is a leader in technology education, developing programs that follow the evolution of the workplace. Students can enroll in degree programs within AI, Computer Science, and Data Science, as well as many other tech-focused or adjacent programs that will put them at the forefront of the industry as well-qualified professionals equipped to navigate and innovate their field.