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The use of AI, or artificial intelligence, in the medical field is an
emerging trend that promises exponential advances in the way we
diagnose and treat a multitude of health conditions. Advances in the
application of medical AI technology are occurring at a lightning pace,
with new developments rendering prior solutions obsolete in a matter
In this article, we’ll review some of the ways that AI technology is
making the healthcare field more efficient, improving the quality of
care, raising ethical concerns, and offering medical practices a
History of AI in Healthcare
As early as 1959, the medical research field has been fascinated with
the potential for the application of artificial intelligence. Early
researchers envisioned a machine that could hold a vast amount of
medical knowledge and possess the ability to provide potential
diagnoses. In the early 1980s, the emerging field of Artificial
Intelligence in Medicine (AIM) was urged on by advancements in the
storage and processing power of digital technology. Research
conducted at Rutgers, Stanford, and MIT paved the way for today’s
extensive use of AI in medicine.
The use of AI allows medical teams to create diagnoses based on large
data sets. The various medical tests, and the data generated, can be
extremely complicated and extensive. AI can analyze this data in
seconds and observe statistical, as well as causal, relationships in the
data set. These correlations can be difficult or impossible for human
researchers and health professionals to identify. When the patient’s
medical condition is precarious and requires urgent care, and accurate
diagnoses, AI can provide prompt prediction to aid in the practitioner’s
Perhaps the most promising benefit of AI is precision, not only in the
sense of making accurate prescriptions, but precision in terms of the
application of suggested medical treatments. AI has the capacity to
utilize the patient’s genetic profile to create recommendations that are
unique to the person’s code. AI systems can store and process an
essentially limitless amount of data on medical conditions, patient
histories, case studies, and pharmaceutical compounds.
Another example of this precision is the use of AI driven robotic surgery
equipment. The Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot (STAR), developed by
researchers at the Sheikh Zayed Institute, has been proven more
accurate in performing, and making real-time modifications to, planned
surgical procedures than human surgeons; however, the research cited
the need for human intervention in about 40% of the cases.
AI can also make quick and accurate work of processing medical
imagery. Software can identify almost imperceptible characteristics,
handle the tremendous amount of data generated by digital scanning
technology, and decrease the analysis period from days to minutes.
While this technology may eventually allow the complete automation
and application of medical treatments, it will almost certainly always
require a human element. The precision of AI is the perfect
complement to the personal, analytical, and technical skills of human
For medical practices, AI technology promises greater treatment
capacity, reduced medical liability, labor savings, and improved
customer satisfaction. Artificial intelligence makes sense from an
entrepreneurial stand point, contributing economically to its rapid
development and broad application to many industries. Busy practices
can automate (with supervision) the scheduling, check-in, diagnosis,
and follow-up process, as well as obtaining process-refining feedback
from patients. This technology can improve customer retention by
boosting customer involvement through consistent communication and
speed of service.
Savings on personnel costs and avoiding human error is are a major
factor in the adoption of AI and robotics. Practices can reduce the need
for doctors and nurses to perform routine tasks, and minimize the time
required to perform essential functions. AI equips them with the tools
to provide higher-quality services, and build a differentiating
competitive advantage as a technological leader in their market.
AI and Human Interaction
Should your doctor or nurse be replaced by a life-like simulation driven
This is an emerging question the medical field is being forced to address
due to the availability of technology, the promise of reduced labor
costs, enhanced operational efficiency, and the potential reduction of
liability for medical practices.
Modern processing power allows programs to speak and act with a
closely human quality that could reduce the workload on medical staff,
and increase the efficiency of the medical process. Despite the logistical
advantages of this technology, controversy has arisen as to the ethical
considerations and social impact.
The Future of Medicine
When a device or software has no emotions, the empathy factor is
removed. Can we rely on AI to deliver emotionally difficult diagnoses?
What is the value of authentic human interaction in the process? Does
emotion hinder accurate diagnoses and care? Or, does the passion of
medical personnel ensure due diligence and creative thinking?
These questions are subjective at heart, and will be a source of debate
for generations. The use of AI in medicine is entrenched, and certain to
be a leading source of change in the dynamic medical field.
At GrailAI, we are working to compliment all of the great research to
date by using our own unique algorithms to compare data from
wearables, DNA and other sources with symptoms that are predictive
of cancer to find instances in early stages before each are more difficult
to treat. As artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies
evolve, the developers behind each must carefully consider how to be
HiPPA compliant, yet push forward aggressively as helping families to
keep their loved one safe is worth the investment.