A research by PricewaterhouseCoopers says that the ageing population and inactive lifestyles are letting a rise in chronic diseases by approximately 57% by 2020. Fortunately, in past few years, healthcare industry has witnessed significant advancements in the diagnosis, management and prevention of certain cancers like cervix and breast cancer. But still has a long way towards economical and effective treatment of chronic diseases. Moreover another report "A universal truth: No health without a workforce", by WHO signifies that there will be a global shortage of 12.9 million healthcare workers by 2035. And it takes years of education and experience to create a decent doctor. Well, on a positive note, AI in healthcare industry is helping to alleviate this problem. AI-powered tools can help doctors improve efficiency while lowering requirements for skill and experience. This can bring cost efficient services to a larger number of people.

As per a research by CBINSIGHTS, the number of digital health companies employing AI has dramatically increased over last few years. And 2017 was a no flop.

In 2017, AI has begun demonstrating real concrete usefulness inside exam rooms and out. Here are 7 times AI has helped in the US healthcare industry in 2017:

1.Detecting TB: 2016 observed 1.7 million deaths due to TB, which eventually surpassed the number of deaths due to HIV/AIDS globally. And Early diagnosis can make a tremendous impact in battling TB effectively but Septum testing is 50% accurate and Molecular testing is much expensive. In 2017, Dr. Paras Lakhani published papers on using AI for detection of TB on chest radiographs, with accuracy greater than 95%; which then were clinically validated at Jefferson Radiology. Later Dr. Lakhani in collaboration with SemanticMD commercialized this screening solution to reach out to the world.

2.Spine surgery Tech: The Medicrea Group after receiving clearances from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration launched its UNiD HUB product, a data-driven digital portal for the company’s Adaptive Spine Intelligence technology. It supports the surgeon workflow, identify tendencies and correlations, and build predictive modelling to drive intelligent strategic decisions and create personalized implant solutions for surgery.

Royal Philips also announced the development of an augmented reality surgical navigation technology that is designed to help surgeons perform image-guided open and minimally-invasive spine surgery.

3.Voice assistant & chatbots: Orbita, a voice and AI health IT technology company, upgraded its Voice platform that empowered healthcare to create and maintain applications for voice-assistants and conversational AI platforms like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Cinical trail investigators use Orbita Voice’s tools to create voice surveys, collect responses, track user engagement and responding to user’s inputs.

4.Detecting Brain Bleeds: Research show that nearly 6 million people die every year due to brain bleeding related conditions and is the fourth leading cause of death in US. Hence, timely detection of brain bleeding is critical. Zebra medical vision, an Israeli company, has developed an algorithm that is capable of detecting Intracranial Haemorrhages and providing a safety ey for physicians in acute care settings. MedyMatch and IBM also teamed up to bring a tool that detects bleeding in the brain.

5.Surgical Robots: 15 years ago, surgical robot da Vinci surgical system was introduced. It was an innovative breakthrough in medical technology. Since then many surgical robts have been introduced with an aim to increase dexterity and reduce incision size. Another robot, Versius, impersonates human arm and is used in laparoscopic procedures – including hernia repairs, colorectal operations and ENT surgery; circumventing the need for traditional open surgery, hence reduces complications and pain after surgery and speeds up recovery times for patients.

6.Medical Imaging: Jonathan Rothberg, unveiled the tool, Butterfly iQ, and announced its FDA clearance for 13 clinical applications. The iQ works with user’s iPhone rather than using a dedicated huge piece of hardware for controls and image display. The company reinvented ultrasound machine by squeezing its component onto a single silicon chip. The initial cost of iQ is around $2000 i.e. much cheaper than traditional hardware systems.

7.Virtual Nurse: Virtual nurse aids physicians stay in touch with patients. Sense.ly introduced virtual nurse, “Molly”. It is a monitoring tool which doctors can personalise to different treatments. On patient’s side, molly shares how they are doing with different check-ins, where patients simply talk to app and no typing is needed.

Future healthcare industry with AI

The amount of information generated in medical industry is incredible and is difficult for human to sort through all incoming data; AI is ideally suited to the task. AI programs are still too limited, for example, to assess a wound for infection, but have the possibility to be a boon to the patients and doctors; as it results into less damage and shorter recovery time.

A study says that globally more than half of hospitals plan to adopt AP in next 5 years and 35% of which are planning to do so in next two years. This step can significantly help doctors to diagnose the diseases in the early stages, elevate the level of precision and efficiency of surgeries; and hence witness a potential drop in healthcare costs.