The social skies are abuzz with a lot of flutter about the latest technology, including artificial intelligence (AI). The significance of AI and its many applications are nothing new, even as it continues to make an extraordinary difference in our lives and contribute to almost every facet of science, innovation, business, and technology.
The medical and healthcare field demands continual innovation to make the world habitable and sustainable and its people healthier and fitter, and AI is playing a crucial role in those areas. According to Acumen Research and Consulting, AI in healthcare is expected to be a US$8 billion market by 2026. Let’s examine some of the ways AI is transforming and revolutionizing the medical and healthcare industry now and will do so into the future.
1. Intelligent plasmonics
Researchers have long sought a technology that can directly target cancerous cells without harming the surrounding tissue, thus saving a lot of ordeal, pain, and time.
More than a decade ago, Professor Harry Atwater of the California Institute of Technology introduced “Plasmonics” in a Scientific American article. Since then, his and other research groups have unearthed new possibilities for the concept, with some already being used and others in the pipeline to catapult the field from the research labs to the mainstream.
In simple terms, plasmonics is the study of the phenomenon when free electrons at the interface between a metal and a dielectric material (like air or glass) interact with electromagnetic oscillations in specific conditions and generate particles called plasmons. When AI is applied to these surface plasmons, the results can help detect and treat cancer and do in vitro studies of neuron cells. This technology also holds promise in the biomedicine and molecular diagnostics fields.
Pacemakers and cochlear implants have become essential technologies for improving many people’s health and function. Electroceuticals or bioelectronics are implantable devices that can be placed into the appropriate nerve to alter the signals sent to the brain and other organs of the body to treat disease. AI-based signal processing and solutions can ensure more accurate and effective insights into neural simulation.
Providing breakthrough solutions to diseases such as epilepsy, asthma, gastroparesis, and several cardiac disorders is not far away, as AI-fortified electroceuticals become a preferred and reliable alternative to pharmaceuticals.
3. Molecular design
Do you know what it takes to discover a new drug? Researching new drugs or enhancing an existing intervention is a critical, yet extremely slow and challenging, task in the medical field.
AI and machine learning (ML) enhance the study, analysis, regeneration, and representation of structural molecules and their physical and chemical properties. The traditional process of studying, analyzing, and experimenting using enormous data sets for molecular design and drug discovery involves a lot of manual effort and is error-prone, complicated, and time-consuming.
However, ML and AI can accelerate the entire process by using automation and optimization models and produce enriched and cost-effective results with minimal human errors.
4. Personalized treatment and medicines
Does one size fit all? If it is not true for apparel, accessories, or corporate wisdom, it is certainly not true for treatment, therapy, and drugs in complex medical disorders.
Precision medicine, as it is popularly known, is tailor-made, focused care for individuals and small groups based on certain key traits, the genetic code, and other data. For example, different patients receive different treatments for a certain type of cancer based on their subtype.
However, according to Dr. Bertalan Meskó, medical futurist and one of the world’s leading biotech thinkers, personalized medicine has no future without AI. Unless AI is utilized in analysis, prediction, and prescription, most of the exorbitant volume of patient genome data we have will remain unmined. AI helps manage these staggering numbers and bring them into controllable proportions by training complex models and deriving value from them.
Is AI the future of healthcare?
Apart from the strands of science and technology where AI has already proven to be a key stimulus, there are scores of other areas – like connected devices, advanced diagnostics, robot-assisted surgeries, drug discovery, pain handling, virtual nurses, disease detection, etc., – where it can be of greater use.
However, along with its great promise come a few hurdles. Will AI be able to safeguard the security and privacy of critical patient and other consumer data? How willing and keen are the participants, investors, and contributors to accept the risks and continue forward? How cost-effective, scalable, and profitable will these solutions be? These are some of the looming questions that need to be addressed to ensure that the path of AI in healthcare is smooth and propitious.
Learn the advantages available to healthcare organizations that embrace digitalization by reading the white paper “A Future in Digital Health.”