The healthcare industry is changing rapidly. And the main name of that change is artificial intelligence. From early disease detection to enhanced decision-making, the uses of AI in healthcare encompass a wide array of opportunities for the industry to leverage. Let’s take a look at some particular fields in which artificial intelligence is transforming the way we experience medicine, and how some specific companies are turning AI solutions into healthcare services or products.
AI in healthcare examples and the companies that provide them
The first AI approach to healthcare began way back in 1965 when a group of Stanford University researchers designed a problem-solving software aimed at identifying unknown organic molecules via mass spectra analysis. The system -called Dendral- was widely successful, and it served as an inspiration for a whole new set of systems that derived from it.
Today, as the exploration of AI fields such as Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing, and Deep Learning has experienced spectacular growth, machines’ abilities to help researchers solve complex problems have expanded into various areas of healthcare.
Below, we will explore the strategies used by some of the most innovative companies in the healthcare industry, and how they have developed technologies based on artificial intelligence to solve some of the urgent issues of healthcare.
What are examples of artificial intelligence in healthcare?
- Medical Imaging by Butterfly Network
- Patient Care by Oncora Medical
- Service Digitalization by Babylon Health
- Clinical Trials by IBM Watson Health
Medical Imaging: Butterfly Network
Ultrasound imaging produces pictures of the inside of the body using sound waves. It has a wide variety of uses such as guiding biopsies, improving pregnancy care, diagnosing heart conditions, and assessing damage after a heart attack. It is a safe, non-invasive, and nonradiative diagnostic tool.
The problem is, the equipment used for medical imaging has been traditionally too large and expensive. The AI medical company Butterfly Network created the first handheld whole-body imager, an affordable device that is one of the most remarkable examples of this new era of healthcare.
How was this possible? Using artificial intelligence, fusing semiconductors, and cloud technology, the company was able to develop a surprisingly practical and effective tool for image diagnosis.
Furthermore, this company has proved its will to contribute to healthcare democratization and tackle the problem of access inequality. Their vision, they have stated, is one of a world in which doctors and nurses carry ultrasound devices in their pockets, just as they now carry stethoscopes.
With ongoing projects in rural Uganda, Kenya, and many other countries, Butterfly Network keeps pushing the barrier to affordable healthcare.
Patient Care: Oncora Medical
Though patient management is certainly a complex challenge across every area of healthcare, oncologists face a particularly defiant task. Software systems for patient care are a big part of it. While most oncologists are forced to log in to at least 6 different software systems to take care of their patients, Oncora Medical has developed a single platform that simplifies workflows for both physicians and scientists.
By bringing together into one single platform data review, data entry, research, machine learning, and automated documentation, Oncora allows for a significant reduction of documentation burden, and, most of all, it improves treatment decision-making, which ultimately results in better outcomes.
Service Digitalization: Babylon Health
The need to shift from a generalized reactive sick care model to preventive healthcare has been a consistent motto of the industry for a while now. This is the mission that the UK-based company Babylon Health has posed upon itself. A digital-first health service provider, Babylon Health combines artificial intelligence, human expertise, and virtual clinical operations for patients. Through its web and mobile applications, patients can easily connect with healthcare professionals.
The goal they pursue, they claim, is not only to re-engineer how people engage with their care, offering them the tools to take control of their well-being but to leverage artificial intelligence to make high-quality healthcare accessible and affordable for as many people as possible.
While they help doctors and nurses complete administrative tasks more efficiently, and gain insights to make more informed decisions, they also allow users to access healthcare options directly through their already-owned devices.
Babylon Health has developed partnerships with private and public institutions across Europe, the US, Africa, and Southeast Asia aimed at reaching the widest possible number of people with their service.
Clinical Trials: IBM Watson Health
The set of AI-powered services provided by this company is quite broad, and some of these types of solutions are also covered by the companies mentioned above. But among the most interesting of them is an algorithm trained with natural language processing that can decode clinical trial data coming from a wide variety of sources and often received in a cluttered, confusing, hard-to-interpret, even misspelled manner.
In the case of clinical trials, IBM Watson Health shows us a great example of how the capacity that machines have to process data -a capacity basically inaccessible to the human mind- can be used to develop new clinical insights. Putting together the results of trials so that the response of patients can be understood more deeply, thus improving the design, execution, and outcome of clinical research.
The Future of Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare: Opportunities and Challenges
The examples of artificial intelligence in healthcare that we have described here are barely a glimpse into the future. As the experience of these companies in developing new AI-powered devices, systems, and algorithms plainly show, healthcare startups and entrepreneurs have today a unique opportunity to step forward and contribute to making the most out of the tools that artificial intelligence provides us.
Building more sustainable, accessible, and effective healthcare systems is one of the most important challenges for decades ahead, and AI has proven the most reliable and promising ally we can have to undertake this task. For companies thriving in the industry, it is essential to adopt AI technologies, so that they can keep their competitive edge as the race to provide better healthcare continues.