The Power and Potential of AI in Healthcare – 5 Trends to Watch in 2019

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare – a promising yet developmental high-tech concept a few short years ago – is now being fully implemented in a range of healthcare applications with impressive results. Healthcare professionals are increasingly recognizing the power and potential of AI, the simulation of human intelligence by machines – especially  computers – to increase operational efficiency, improve patient outcomes, and assist in the delivery of high-quality, value-based care.

The clear and resounding message for healthcare organizations when it comes to AI – the future is here. According to a 2018 OptumIQ Survey of more than 500 senior U.S. healthcare industry executives, healthcare organizations will invest an average of $32.4 million each on artificial intelligence projects over the next five years. What’s more, healthcare industry analysts concur that the adoption of AI technologies is likely to accelerate in 2019.

Here are the five most promising AI applications with the power to transform healthcare now and well into future.

  • Medical Records and Data Management. Because healthcare depends on compiling, storing, and analyzing medical records and other information, the most common application for AI in the healthcare arena is data management. Robots are able to collect, store, reformat, and locate data at lightning speed – saving healthcare providers time and allowing more consistent access to this critical information.
  • Workflow and Administrative Tasks. It’s estimated that machine automation of administrative tasks could result in $18 billion in savings by helping doctors, nurses, and other providers streamline their time. An example of this type of AI automation is voice-to-text technology that could help order tests, prescribe medications, and write chart notes.
  • Virtual Nursing Assistants. This innovative AI technology could save the healthcare industry an estimated $20 billion annually. Virtual nurses – available 24/7 – can monitor patients, answer questions, and dispense basic patient care. The digital nurse “Molly,” developed by the startup, uses machine learning to support patients by monitoring their condition and following up with treatments, especially for chronic illnesses.
  • Drug Development. The discovery of new and effective medications is critical to the ongoing fight in the treatment of existing and emerging disease. Because the process of drug development through clinical trials can take more than a decade – and cost billions of dollars – finding a way to streamline the process while reducing costs could change the treatment of disease worldwide. During the 2016 Ebola scare in the U.S., a program powered by AI was used to scan exiting drugs for ones that had potential to be redesigned to fight the disease. Impressively, the program identified two medications in one day that may reduce Ebola infectivity – a process that generally takes years or months.
  • Design of Effective Treatments. While using AI applications to aid physicians in clinical judgement or diagnosis is still in development, some test cases have yielded encouraging results. In a study at Stanford University, an AI algorithm used to detect skin cancers compared with dermatologists’ detection skills was found to perform at the same level as the healthcare practitioners. The main goal of this type of AI application is to analyze the relationships between treatment techniques and patient outcomes.

Founded by healthcare industry expert Bill Behnke, the Behnke Group is an innovative, leading-edge healthcare consulting company with more than 20 years of experience working with a range of healthcare organizations nationwide in solving today’s most important business challenges. Contact us at: 210-240-9400.

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