The Unlocked Potential of AI in Healthcare

Posted on: 29.03.2018

The demand for Artificial Intelligence solutions in Healthcare is literally increasing by the minute. I would even daresay, every second. But in reality, are healthcare systems within Europe ready to embrace Artificial Intelligence? Is their data machine-readable? How about interoperability; do the existing data models follow standards that could be understood by different healthcare IT systems throughout Europe? The answers to these questions, will undoubtedly effect the uptake of Artificial Intelligence.

How about legislation? In reality, Artificial Intelligence as a technology, is at its pre-legislation stages and requires policy commitments by the high-level decision makers. Serious questions are awaiting us, who is legally liable when an informed decision was brought forward through the use of Artificial Intelligence? Should a patient be informed if a doctor decides to go against the advice of an Artificial Intelligence solution, despite all the evidence in the contrary?

How far have we’ve gone with Artificial Intelligence

Despite the fact, that this technology has the tune of an incredibly innovative solution, it has been there for decades. Way back to the 60s, when the first chat bots were being created. Since then, we have progressed significantly and when systems are ready to embrace such innovations, we are observing magnificent solutions which are focused for value-based care rather than volume-based care. We have Artificial Intelligence solutions ranging from Mental Health chatbots to Radiology Decision Support Systems and algorithms which are detecting skin cancers at a higher accuracy than experienced dermatologists. Does this mean that healthcare professionals will be out of a job tomorrow? Not at all, each and every healthcare profession will undergo a serious reinvention. This paradigm shift will help the different professions to focus on the core of healthcare, that is the relationship between the caregiver and the patient.

The ideal care pathway

We should be in a position to imagine situations, where doctor through the use of Artificial Intelligence, Connected Care Records and Wearables, could predict with a high confidence the reason why a particular patient is visiting their healthcare situation. Of course, this might not always be the case, but in these kind of ideal scenarios we can find healthcare professionals who are more concerned about ensuring that the patient understood correctly their care pathway and their caring team, to help them regain their health back. In reality, we might even come to a situation where an Artificial Intelligence will have to get a license to operate, and tests to undergo before it is released into the wider market for use by patients and physicians alike for assistance in clinical diagnosis.

Getting ready

We need to prepare our systems to embrace such innovations and 2018 will be the year to embrace such innovation wholehearted. Healthcare organisation need to take courageous steps and move away from data silos. On the other hand, Private enterprises and Startups also need to be ready, to embrace a wealth of untapped information through regulated pathways, ensuring that data is harnessed at the highest level of security to create clinically validated solutions. I believe that this is just start and medicine won’t look the same in 20 years’ time.

Would you like to learn more about the unlocked potential of Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare? Do not forget to attend the HIMSS Europe & Health 2.0 session: “Unleashing the power of AI” taking place on Monday 28th May

Stefan Buttigieg

Specialist Trainee in Public Health Medicine, Malta