There is no doubt that artificial intelligence (AI) is changing the world as we know it. With its ability to learn and make decisions on its own, AI has the potential to revolutionize many different industries. One area where AI is making a huge impact is in the field of medicine. In this blog post, we will explore the ways in which AI is changing and improving medical care. We will also discuss the future of AI in medicine and how it will help us achieve even greater advances in healthcare!
We recently explored the topic of “What Excites Us About the Possibilities of AI?” with our team. Today, we want to dive more specifically into the topic of artificial intelligence within the field of medicine and healthcare. This is an area where the impacts of harnessing AI may be the most consequential for so many of us in our lives – because access to good healthcare can be a matter of life and death.
We’ve come so far to be able to have access to the doctors, the medications, the vaccines, and the diagnostic tools that we have in our modern world. Now, imagine combining all of that advancement with the power of AI that can analyze millions of data points to give the fullest picture of the best ways to take care of our health. All of the medical information in the world at our fingertips, instantaneously. That means that AI might be able to non-invasively detect diseases or risk for disease that much earlier. It might be able to develop the perfect treatment plan for a patient based specifically off of their genetic design, in order to best serve them and their needs.
All of this work is by no means intended to replace doctors or a human touch, but to give professionals the best possible tools for the best possible care. This also means that the more widespread this technology can become, the more some of the expensive costs associated with healthcare can be lowered. We envision a more equitable world where good care is available for everyone, at a low cost, and with the best of the best in terms of technology and tools.
There are a number of companies, studies, and researchers already doing this work. In our blog post, “10 Companies Changing the World with Artificial Intelligence”,we referenced two companies, Tempus and Freenome, who are engaging in this work. Tempus has developed a “data driven precision machine” to discover and diagnose health problems, determine the effectiveness of treatments, and to identify new studies and trials that could save patients’ lives. Freenome focuses on using AI for early detection of cancer – testing routine blood samples to detect early warning signs of this common disease, in which early detection leads to better and more accurate treatment for patients.
A recent study from Johns Hopkins University gives us a strong and clear example of one way this technology could be a life-saver for so many. Sepsis is a disease that develops in about 1.7 million adults per year in the United States, and which results in death for 250,000 of those who develop it. According to the CDC, 1 in 3 patients who die in a hospital have sepsis. Sepsis results from a strong reaction to an infection that can be extremely easy to miss, due to the fact that its symptoms are very similar to that of other common issues. However, once sepsis is in the bloodstream, it often is a matter of hours in which it needs to be detected before it can lead to “septic shock,” often meaning organ failure and death.
In this study, the researchers found that, “patients are 20% less likely to die of sepsis because of a new AI system developed at Johns Hopkins University that catches symptoms hours earlier than traditional methods”. The key to sepsis truly is in the early detection of it, but for a long time, we have not had accurate tools that can catch it early enough. Ideally, with this new technology, we can have artificial intelligence take in a patient’s medical history, current symptoms, and lab-results, in order to determine whether someone is at high risk for developing sepsis, and then suggest treatment such as starting antibiotics that much sooner. The AI can also keep track of a patient’s information throughout their stay at a hospital, to ensure that critical information is not missed if they are moved between departments or caretakers.
This example demonstrates the possibilities of what this technology can help us to do, and how it can help us care for people better. This concept is being worked on with great care, and we are already seeing how artificial intelligence can similarly help us with other diseases. The Society of NeuroInterventional Surgery has presented a study of AI identifying when someone is having a stroke in certain cases, where a quick diagnosis makes a tremendous difference to whether that person lives a life of disability or can be rehabilitated.
A research group at Nagoya University has been working on an AI algorithm that can diagnose idiopathic pulmonary-fibrosis, a lung disease, and can do so non-invasively – which is huge! There are also studies about how AI can detect dementia earlier. The list could go on and on with specific diseases that AI can help us detect earlier and determine treatment better for.
Additionally, and maybe even more fascinatingly, is the application of AI to medicine itself. Often, we are developing new medications or vaccines based off of our own knowledge. Imagine having a machine that can test every variable for what the best combination might be. Beyond that, imagine having a machine that can find and discover new proteins that we humans haven’t even discovered yet! The possible benefits of this can be so far and wide reaching – having AI software that can create proteins for new medications, for vaccines, for treatments, and more. The implications of this extend even beyond medicine into areas such as food security or climate science.
All of these examples give us a lot of reasons to have hope, because the possibilities and the implications of what this can revolutionize are so wide reaching they are almost hard to grasp. We hope that you will find some of what we’ve explored in this article both interesting and exciting. Knowing that this technology can truly be so helpful and empowering to us is definitely something that gets us excited! To harness all that we can to detect disease earlier, to develop better treatment plans, to develop better medications, to provide more specific treatments to each individual, and to lower costs and make healthcare more equitable for everyone – this is our vision, and a part of the world we want to build.
Will you join us?