Technology has vastly improved medicine over time and has allowed huge advancements in both treatment and diagnosis. In today’s world, we have reached such a time that artificial intelligence is being used in all manner of ways to modernise and streamline processes including preventative healthcare. This article will aim to make sense of the revolutionary technology that is making its way into the sphere of healthcare.
Exploring the Role of Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare: What is AI?
AI is also known as artificial intelligence; this is a technology that enables a computer to think or act in a more ‘human’ way.
It does this by taking in information from its surroundings and deciding its response based on what it learns or senses.
Though this technology has been under development for many years, it is only in the last 12-18 months that it has really come into the public sphere.
It has quickly spread into every area of life – everything from accounting and even into healthcare.
Many people feel that the accelerated introduction of AI into different sectors was caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Companies are using the rise of AI in a variety of different ways.
They can utilise AI to implement 24-hour customer support via chat bots and automated phone lines, in the finance sector AI is used to revolutionise financial planning and wealth management, and in manufacturing supply chains are optimised so that other resources can allocated more efficiently.
How artificial intelligence can support healthcare
While other aspects of society were quick to conform to the use of AI, healthcare has taken longer to adapt to the idea.
Understandably, it is difficult to imagine putting the fate of someone’s health in the hands of a robot.
Healthcare, however, is perhaps one of the most overstretched sectors in terms of resources, it is no surprise that AI technology has now been developed that can alleviate some of the pressure and attempt to streamline certain processes.
Some of the ways that AI is currently being used in healthcare are:
1. Clinical decision making – generative AI can assist medical professionals in making accurate and informed diagnoses. Data, such as lab results; previous imaging, and a patient’s medical history is analysed to identify any potential problem areas.
2. Pandemic risk prediction – as mentioned, AI usage was accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, part of this acceleration came in the form of a model that helps scientists to study the potential threat of viruses becoming a pandemic.
3. Personalised medication and treatment – wearable devices have been created that continuously collect real-time data on a patient’s health including heart rate, blood oxygen and blood glucose levels. This data is then fed into generative AI algorithms which analyse and interpret the data to recommend tailored treatment options.
4. Medical imaging and reporting – AI can be used to report on medical images created by scanners to detect abnormalities and compare them with existing data. It can also be used to enhance imaging and improve the scanning experience for clients.
The advantages and disadvantages of AI in healthcare
Whilst new developments in medical technology are beneficial, they are not without their issues. AI is no exception to this rule.
AI still requires human oversight and monitoring to ensure that the outcome for the client is the best one. For example, in cases where AI is used in robotic surgery a human doctor is still required to check on the robotic movements and also to provide the human empathy pre and post-surgery that the robot does not have.
When it comes to diagnosis and imaging, it has been said that by 2030 there will be AI healthcare systems that can anticipate when a person is at risk of developing a chronic disease.
The role of AI in medical imaging has been described as having ten million radiologists analysing a scan instead of a handful of specialists.
Whilst this has its obvious benefits, the increased sensitivity to change that AI has could lead to the flagging of subtle changes of indeterminable significance i.e. false positives for diseases such as cancer.
This means before AI can be fully integrated into clinical medicine it must first be meticulously scrutinised from all angles and overseen by doctors themselves.
We also must consider that there is no database of medical imaging data that AI has access to due to risks concerning GDPR and privacy issues. It is unlikely that in the near future, any health organisation will hand over their data to AI to make it possible for this level of comparison to be carried out.
At Echelon Health we are already incorporating AI technology into our comprehensive platinum health assessments.
The next generation of scanners have AI integrated into them. Our CT scanner uses AI to produce sharp images quicker, quieter and using a lower dose of contrast dye. This type of scanner has been proven to need 20% less contrast for body imaging and 40% less for cardiac examinations.
AI also aids in the interpretation of our virtual colonoscopy scans utilising extremely powerful software to help scan the thousands of images and generate the 3D images. It is an aid, but this, however, does not replace the skill set of our experienced consultant radiologists.
Preventative health assessments at Echelon Health
At Echelon Health our preventative health assessments are the most comprehensive in the world. Our platinum assessments can detect 95% of preventable causes of death in women and 92% in men.
Through a range of different scans including CT, MRI, and ultrasound we use the gold standard modality to test for each issue.
Included in the Platinum Assessment are the following tests:
- Medical Questionnaire & Pre-Assessment
- Blood Tests
- CT Aorta
- CT Heart
- CT Coronary Angiogram
- CT Chest
- CT Pelvis
- CT Virtual Colonoscopy
- CT Bone Density
- EOS CT Upright Skeleton
- MRI Brain
- MRI Cerebral Artery Angiogram
- MRI Carotid Artery Angiogram
- MRI Prostate
- Ultrasound Thyroid
- Ultrasound Testes/Ovaries
- Digital Mammogram
- Full Body Mole Screen
- Final Consultation
If you would like to hear more about the preventative health assessments available through Echelon Health, please don’t hesitate to contact our team.
Medical facts have been checked by Dr. Paul Jenkins MA MD FRCP