Healing disease, repairing injury and saving lives may be the noblest mission, yet, for artificial intelligence (AI). The next time you visit your local emergency room, the attending physician could be a ‘bot rather than a doc. Here are 4 key areas where artificial intelligence might be performing at your local hospital or slated for future service very soon:
1. Think Tank: Doctors, technicians and nurses use a variety of problem solving skills. Using technology to help form medical opinions and create a treatment strategy is really nothing new. Clinics and hospitals have been referring to electronic data bases for decades now. However, new technologies are vastly changing the world of data mining for medicine.
Artificial intelligence is revolutionizing how widespread, disconnected healthcare industry databases are operating. AI can integrate disparate information into an organized aggregate. The information from a nation’s entire population can be analyzed, creating a comprehensive national picture of health that can identify trends, patterns, problem areas, etc. Predictive models can help to prevent outbreaks or epidemics. Such valuable medical maps can be created while still protecting the anonymity of patients.
2. Communication: What happens if a ship is headed for disaster and the captain barks out orders in a language the crew doesn’t understand? Everyone may be doomed to join Davy Jones’ locker at the bottom of the sea. This is not a scenario any patient would wish for the surgery theater. Yet, despite the extensive training and education surgeons achieve, as a team leader, communication can sometimes be problematic in the operating room. Everyone on their team has most likely received their education at different universities. They may have trained at any number of hospitals. Although much medical terminology is universal, there is so much to communication that is nuanced and locally or personally familiar that a universal standard for language used in surgery doesn’t exist.
AI has a solution for this challenge: gaming. Surgeons now practice leadership and communication skills via an avatar engaging in real life scenarios with an AI surgery team. Decisions, words and language determine the path traveled through a procedure. With no script to guide them, surgeons are able to learn the lingo that will lead to an unfavorable or favorable outcome for the procedure performed.
3. Performance: Performance of procedure is the arena most individuals imagine when medicine and AI come together. The da Vinci Surgical System provides a platform for surgeons to perform complex procedures through a robotic proxy. Surgeons prefer the control, flexibility and precision of this system to conventional techniques. Although not a full-fledged AI system, da Vinci is certainly the precursor to the advances medical professionals are expecting from AI. The future of da Vinci is in developing a robot that goes beyond the parameters of a programmed procedure at the direction of a human surgeon. AI surgeons of the future will be aware of a patient’s anatomy. It will recognize the health issue that requires attention and then determine the correct procedure to solve the problem at hand.
4. Anticipating Complications: It is not enough for AI surgeons to consult a database that will help them recognize health problems, diagnose and initiate a treatment strategy. Mitigating risk is also part of every physician’s training. Verb Surgical is another leader in the frontier of AI medicine developing the technology for this critical AI capability.
In development is a surgical robotic platform that adds the necessary layer of identifying potential challenges and risks associated with a treatment strategy or procedure. The analysis is proposed to take place in the cloud, with a robotic surgeon accessing all of the knowledge and information related to similar cases. This could be a resource of thousands or even hundreds of thousands. In other words, it may be a single robot physically performing an operation but, in reality, thousands of surgeons are present and assisting.
In the world of medicine, the most important priority is saving lives. There are challenges to overcome to ensure the highest degree of safety where AI managed treatment and procedures are concerned. Despite the optimism and excitement in the fields of technology and medicine, it will still take time for the future of artificial intelligence managed healthcare to fully arrive. But early success with systems like da Vinci are paving the way for a healthcare revolution.