Not without criticism, artificial intelligence (AI) has revolutionized the way we live and work. From smartphone apps to self-driving cars, we see the impact of AI all around us. However, one of the biggest beneficiaries of artificial intelligence has been the healthcare industry.
Whereas the recent media rage has triggered alarm among the general public, AI systems actually have been methodically incorporated into medicine over the past sixty years; and have improved the way numerous aspects of healthcare are delivered worldwide.
As an aspiring doctor or healthcare professional, it is important to explore how AI applications continue to impact medicine. As well as, understand the positive difference artificial intelligence can make for the future of both patient care and the advancement of medicine itself.
Although the promise of AI performing human tasks is grandiose, it does not come without a need for strict regulation. Responsible awareness of how AI-powered solutions could improve upon traditional disease diagnosis, clinical workflow, and healthcare optimization is essential.
Brief History of the Birth of AI
An assistant professor of mathematics at Dartmouth College named John McCarthy is credited with coining the name “artificial intelligence” in 1955. McCarthy had decided to organize a think-tank workshop based on the idea that every aspect of learning could be precisely described so thinking machines could be used to simulate it. At that summer conference, the AI field of science and engineering was born.
Dartmouth’s summer research project on artificial intelligence gathered twenty of the brightest minds in cognitive science to figure out how to make machines use language to solve the kinds of problems previously reserved for humans. At the time, the two-month study for an exchange of ideas was a disappointment due to episodes of human stubbornness that arose from intellectual disputes. But both the term “artificial intelligence” and “machine learning “ were coined at the summer workshop in New Hampshire.
The conference has since been commemorated as the birthplace of artificial intelligence. Participants estimated that electronic capacity and functionality was doubling every 18 months with no signs of slowing down. Based on that timeline, language engineers were convinced that software programming would lead to a point where computers could one day have the speed and resources needed to be as intelligent as human beings. A theory that has already had a tangible impact on the technologies and applications we use.
Improving Patient Outcomes
Most patient-oriented applications of artificial intelligence require deep learning, the type of intelligence defined by multiple layers of feature recognition that allow AI systems to see the forest as well as the trees. Two popular medical applications include:
- 1) Patient Diagnosis – One of the biggest advantages of AI in medicine is in the area of patient diagnosis. AI systems have been designed to analyze medical images, such as X-rays and MRIs, and can identify patterns to diagnose medical conditions with incredible accuracy. This is particularly useful in diagnosing diseases that are difficult for human doctors to identify. AI has been shown to increase accuracy while decreasing the time required for diagnosis.
- 2) Patient Prognosis – AI systems are also being used in patient prognosis. Since these systems have the ability to process vast amounts of medical and lifestyle data from patients, artificial intelligence engines can use the information to predict the likelihood of a patient developing a particular condition. This can be used for identifying high-risk individuals who may benefit from early interventions as well as suggesting proactive steps for preventive care.
Additionally, AI systems do not have biases and can determine a patient’s diagnoses and prognoses more objectively than its human counterpart. This not only can improve patient outcomes but also could reduce the overall costs and availability of healthcare worldwide.
Other Healthcare Industry Applications
The recent COVID pandemic highlighted how artificial intelligence helped the healthcare industry in an unexpected crisis situation. AI systems were immediately deployed to predict the emergence of hotspots by analyzing data from contact tracing and flight traveler data. This allowed healthcare providers to allocate resources to slow the spread of the novel virus. By being proactive, providers were able to better manage the crisis and helped to reduce the total number of cases.
The use of AI in drug discovery is also changing the way medicines are being developed and delivered. Algorithms can analyze large datasets from human trials and identify potential drug candidates with high success rates. This is a much faster process compared to traditional drug discovery methods, which often take several years. AI systems can also be used to predict how a drug will react with a patient’s biology to provide better treatment options for individual patients.
AI assistants are constantly being developed to support physicians in their day-to-day work. Assistants can help doctors keep track of vital patient information and suggest tests to be run or highlight when a certain test needs to be repeated. So the application of artificial intelligence can free up a doctor’s time as well as reduce the likelihood of medical errors. More domestic roles, like management of medical records or connecting with patients, are redundant tasks that are easily automated with AI.
Challenges for Today’s Medical Students
It is important to note that AI systems cannot fully replace human healthcare providers but artificial intelligence does have tremendous potential for transforming medicine in positive ways. Nonetheless, healthcare providers will need to embrace a dual role. Not only will everyone need to know how to work with AI systems in providing patient care; but today’s medical students and healthcare professionals will need to furnish the knowledge needed for large language models, so they can continue learning to meet unique challenges.
“Although AI systems have already had a major impact on the healthcare industry,” says Dr. Hans Wolf the founder of WOLFPACC’s Physicians Achievement Concept Course, “the real challenge will be what today’s medical students can add to the equation.”
According to a recent article in MIT Technology Review, researchers from an AI forecasting organization suggest the high-quality data that is typically used to train large language models may be completely used up as soon as 2026. As linguistic engineers build more powerful artificial intelligence machines, it will be imperative to find original content that can be used in training new AI models. But medical students already know that our industry is linked to lifelong learning. The good news is they will have the benefit of artificial intelligence to help in meeting healthcare’s future challenges.
Dr. Hans Wolf devoted decades to developing WOLFPACC’s Methodology for helping medical students understand how to apply the basic sciences that they learned in medical school to the practice of medicine. If you’re ready to be the best physician you can be, contact us today to schedule a USMLE or COMLEX review program.
Photo credit pexels.com