“The doctor will see you now”:
How AI is disrupting healthtech
Mike Hoey is the President of Source Meridian
At Source Meridian, we’re fortunate to work with some of the world’s leading healthtech companies, and to support these companies in their Artificial Intelligence [AI] and Machine Learning [ML] efforts. AI continues to grow exponentially, with the industry expected to grow well over 1100% between 2020 and 2028.
For healthcare providers, this means we are again hurtling into an era of disruptive new technologies still in their early stages today. With that in mind, here are three ways AI is already being utilized, and what these current applications might evolve into in the near future.
What many overlook -- how AI is already in the market
Picture a doctor, and there’s a tendency to grab an example from TV: a professional in a white coat walking down a hospital corridor holding a clipboard. Doctors love making rounds and seeing patients, but the reality you don’t see on TV is they often spend a portion of their days performing administrative tasks that are far less glamorous than performing a lifesaving surgery.
Doctors (and their patients) prefer spending their time focused on medicine rather than coding insurance forms into an office computer to ensure they’ll be paid properly. And thankfully this is where AI has stepped in. Right now, there are AI applications that allow doctors to automate the process of taking notes, performing administrative tasks, and automating processes related to patient records all in a way that generates HIPAA compliant data.
In a few years, expect this technology to improve dramatically as new systems emerge that will allow doctors to utilize patterns in historic patient data to predict the next diagnosis, treatment, and prescription a patient is going to get.
Unfortunately, there are things that doctors sometimes miss when they’re looking at an MRI scan or an x-ray. Luckly, the current generation of machine learning enabled software allows doctors to have a keen set of data-driven eyes to highlight their understanding and contribute to their knowledge. Just as Rene Theophile Hyacinthe’s primitive first stethoscope revolutionized our understanding of such common illnesses and pneumonia and bronchitis, AI-enabled imaging software stands to enhance our understanding of entire systems of the body.
We’re now learning that AI imaging software is excellent at helping doctors detect lesions that could be symptomatic of serious disease. In fact, AI is so good at detecting certain types of problems, they sometimes see things the doctor misses, according to The Lancet.
However, AI will sometimes overlook certain things that a doctor would catch. For instance, software may excel in detecting lesions in images of the human body, but right now it will ignore the type and biological aggressiveness of the lesion. The call to make a diagnosis lies still in the hands of the doctor.
Nevertheless, AI-enabled imaging unlocks new options for physicians when forecasting the kinds of treatments and diagnosis their patients might need in the future.
A vaccine against future pandemics
As we saw with the COVID pandemic, the first experimental Moderna vaccine was given out in Seattle on March 17, 2020, two days before the first statewide lockdown in the country was announced in California two days later. With the first functional vaccines essentially predating lockdown measures, it left many people wondering why science moves so slow.
AI is aiming to disrupt that. There is new software out there that can engineer drug models and simulate what those drugs will do when they interact with the human body. Taking this one step further, if scientists can model what a virus looks like, they can try to create drugs designed to create an immune response. Algorithms run through countless potential expressions of a drug, conduct machine based testing, and then provide a potential conclusion as a starting point for the actual process of manufacturing the physical prototype.
Some software is able to predict how well a drug will react with such accuracy, that the FDA will accept the results of their data in place of a toxicology report. This is the first step in groundbreaking new science that will lead to a whole new class of drugs with widespread applications, like the new MRNA vaccines that were developed during the pandemic.
In the future we can expect to see this kind of software increase in it’s accuracy and clarity in order to help doctors make much more accurate diagnoses and provide better early detection measures for common illnesses like heart disease and certain types of cancer. Already, healthcare providers and insurers can predict mortality within the parameters of a few years given historical data of conditions and treatments, and that insight paired with this technology means proactive measures can be taken to extend lifespans.
In today’s world, artificial intelligence continues each day to enter the healthtech mainstream. At Source Meridian we’re fortunate to be at the leading of this industry, and to be working with many of these companies. To learn more, visit (link).