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Relying on A.I. Applications in the Medical Community

Recent years have seen a rapid increase in the use of artificial intelligence (AI) technology in the medical field. We can expect to see an even larger increase in 2023. While the main uses for AI in medicine usually include diagnostics and disease detection, many more avenues are available. Let’s take a look at some additional ways that AI can support the medical community.

It’s important to note that the intention of implementing AI into the medical field is not to reduce the number of human jobs and, therefore, increase unemployment. The intention is to add additional support to health care organizations that are experiencing staff shortages due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Proper AI programming will allow vacant responsibilities to be filled, providing higher-quality care for patients across the nation.

Radiology

Since the pandemic, the stress on radiologists has dramatically increased. A system driven by AI could be of great benefit to this specialty. AI systems can rapidly process scans of thousands of patients to detect pneumonia caused by COVID-19 and report these findings to clinicians. That would fill the gap of skilled human resources in radiology.

There are already some innovations in radiography used for CT scans. A new AI COVID-19 Imaging software was also developed that scans the long opacity in patients to detect COVID-19. While the software has not been tested enough to be effective, it is a huge first step in AI imaging technology that could lessen the human resources gap in radiology.

Another promising project, Project InnerEye (backed by Microsoft), strives to “perform radiotherapy planning 13 times faster” than a human clinician. This software is designed to detect cancer in CT scans and send them back to clinicians quickly. The aim of Project InnerEye is to drastically cut cancer wait times using AI to automate lengthy radiotherapy preparations.

Pharmacology

The pharmaceutical industry can use AI to discover new drugs. In fact, the first AI-invented drug molecule was patented in 2020 by Japanese and British scientists. The medicine was accepted for human testing and will be used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder. As of late 2021, other promising drugs have also been discovered, some with potential cures for highly contagious and rare diseases.

In this case, AI was used to augment chemical experiments and medical drug research. The AI could model molecules and simulate chemical reactions in virtual environments. By doing this electronically, scientists could reduce the costs of onsite experiments. Hi-tech lab equipment sped up the experiments and facilitated the quicker discovery of scientific breakthroughs in the medical field.

Hospitals

Many startup companies worldwide will begin to invest millions in 2023 into the development of AI projects that allow hospitals to cut the costs of hiring qualified staff. Medical HR software is being used to reduce the amount of time HR specialists spend on administrative tasks and increase the time they spend on value-added activities. AI technology is also reducing human error in data collection, helping managers make more data-driven decisions.

HR software can also help with retention issues in the workforce. There is no need to worry about employees retiring, being fired, or moving on to a new career path. With HR software, the software will always be there. Managers may also benefit from not having to oversee processes and procedures for managing patient data. Instead, the software can be automatically programmed to follow all procedures and consistently follow medical processes.

HR software can be used to recruit medical staff, track performance, train staff, manage benefits and staff compensation, and analyze critical HR information. All of these tasks can be conducted more productively, more efficiently, and more accurately. With AI software implemented into the hospital setting, hospital staff can focus more on care and less on paperwork.

Chatbots

Chatbots are AI-controlled applications that can conduct meaningful human-like conversations via user voice or text input. The use of chatbots is becoming increasingly popular in nearly every industry worldwide. Even when you go online to pay your phone bill now, an AI chatbot asks how it can assist. In the medical field, chatbots are being used either via mobile devices or online to diagnose and advise patients based on user input. Some chatbots are even being incorporated into patient portals to help patients navigate their health information.

Incorporating a chatbot into patient portals can help patients address their concerns and minor medical questions when health care professionals may be unavailable due to call center overload or non-operation hours. Chatbots can even be programmed to identify patients’ next steps and encourage them to seek additional medical assistance when necessary. It’s important to keep in mind though that, at times, these chatbots can sometimes misdiagnose or provide misinformation due to not fully understanding what a client is asking for or not properly putting in their information. We all know what that’s like!

Important Downsides

While AI programs can make work much easier for medical professionals and even, in some cases reveal breakthroughs in diagnostic and pharmacy research, they do have some pretty significant downsides to keep in mind. Some AI software can easily be exploited by hackers who can illegally access patients’ medical information. There is even some complex AI malware out there that can create cybersecurity issues. Cybersecurity threats, such as hackers, are the biggest technological threats to the medical community in 2023 and beyond.

Any EHR/EMR systems, wireless systems (e.g., those used in hospitals, clinics, and health centers), or any other medical technology that may feature insufficient security features. There are even features some hackers use that can mimic people’s faces and voices, allowing for unmonitored and unregulated access to patients’ confidential data. Some of these features may even open the door to identity theft. As technology and AI become more sophisticated, so do phishing and smishing campaigns. The best solution for this problem would be high-level data encryption or data protection software that can neutralize risk from hackers.

Overall, AI technology can benefit the health care community in multiple ways if used correctly. There are exciting projects on the horizon for 2023, some of which will make sweeping impacts on health care as we know it today. Though AI can seem intimidating and pose more risk for hackers to access confidential information, through continued testing and evaluation, scientists and researchers can create AI technology that poses little risk and great reward for professionals working the medical field.

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Eldrina Easterly

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Chris Hughes

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