Artificial Intelligence and Robotics in Healthcare
As technology advances humanity moves forward as well. It’s no secret that technology already consumes a large portion of human lives today. Everything from communication to consumerism to daily activities is dictated in part by our dependence on technology. Humans have even relegated the simple task of keeping track of our health to technology.
Fitbit wristbands and smartwatches are the latest trend in tracking a person’s movements, exercise routines, and weight loss. But simple diets and exercises aren’t the only thing technology is assisting with when it comes to health concerns.
Implementation of artificial intelligence and robotics has become popular in recent years in the healthcare industry. The use of these tools is helping patients, doctors and hospitals solve problems more effectively and efficiently. These advancements are overhauling the healthcare industry as whole and creating a better healthcare system for both patient and provider.
Technology has allowed the healthcare industry to grow by leaps and bounds and shows no signs of slowing down. Here are just a few ways in which both artificial intelligence and robotics, are/will advance healthcare now and in the future.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) Chat-bots save time and money
The healthcare industry like any industry is a large and complex system. This system includes items that are not necessarily seen as fundamental to healthcare, but are important nonetheless. For instance, customer service is invaluable to health care providers. Patients like any other consumer want to feel comfortable, appreciated and confident that they are being offered the best services.
In order to provide the best service, providers employ customer service representatives who take patient inquiries through multiple forms of communication. This is timely and costly endeavor for most healthcare providers, and no doubt contributes to the rising costs of healthcare.
According to a study conducted by Juniper Research, employing the use of automated chat-bots that use artificial intelligence saves a provider time and money. It is estimated that in this year alone, automated chat-bots have saved organizations $20 million dollars. That figure is expected to increase exponentially and is forecasted to hit the $8 billion mark annually by 2022.
But these chat-bots aren’t the run-of-the-mill automated responses you might receive when calling your local bank. Many of these chat-bots use a variety of different technologies to help process patient requests. These include:
- Natural language processing—this process attempts to understand what a user is saying. The process involves a method in which the chat-bot accesses conversational flow and responses from the patient. The chat-bot will either ask follow up questions to determine with a certain level of confidence the exact information a patient is looking for.
- Knowledge management— a similar technology that powers Google and Siri searches, knowledge management is a process by which the chat-bot will be able to document common questions and answers that have been archived over time. This gives the chat-bot the ability to offer accurate solutions to problems.
- Sentiment analysis—when used in conjunction with knowledge management and natural language processing, sentiment analysis provides the overall experience of artificial intelligence in chat-bots. In other words, sentiment analysis attempts to determine both the attitude of the speaker and their needs. This further helps a chat-bot pinpoint customer’s needs and efficiently provide for those needs.
All of these technologies combined will allow the chat-bots to perform such tasks as helping patients select a benefit plan, help with triage symptoms and provide resource information. Advancing technology is allowing for more intelligent chat-bots, and the future in healthcare will surely see an increasing role for chat-bots.
Artificial Intelligence that explain lab results
Monitoring one’s health can be a tedious task. However as previously mentioned technology has found a way to assist in that department of our lives, that somehow manages to be neglected. The advancement of Fit Bits, Apple Watch, and Samsung Gear makes keeping track of daily health habits an easy affair. But what if that technology could be used even further to offer suggestions for maintaining health standards? What if that same technology could offer a prognosis for minor symptoms?
A Belgian inventor named Walter DeBrouwer believes he has developed software that would be capable of not only diagnosing symptoms, but explaining lab results as well.
The app is called doc.ai… With doc.ai, DeBrouwer hopes to alleviate doctors from the task of interpreting lab results and place it squarely in the hands of artificial intelligence.
Starting with blood and genetic tests, DeBrouwer hopes the software will eventually branch out to other forms of test in the near future.
Once the app is downloaded to a patient’s phone, it will ask to sync up with devices such as Fit Bits or Apple Watch. A profile of the patient’s medical history will then be accumulated and the app will offer suggestions about lifestyle changes. Some information the app will provide will include blood type, advice for allergies and ways to improve health such as increased physical activity.
Artificial Intelligence that creates personalized implants
This technology is fairly new and as such is still being researched and developed, but it seems likely that it will be in use in the near future. In June of 2017 the Medicrea Group, a company specializing and pre-operative and post-operative services, received clearance from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration for its UNiD HUB. This product is a digital portal that uses the company’s Adaptive Spine Intelligence technology.
The UNid HUB helps enhance the Adaptive Spine Intelligence in numerous ways. For starters it will help create communication between UNid LAB biomedical engineers and surgeons. This communication will help Medicrea to implement usage of specific spinal implants that are directly designed on a patient-by-patient basis. Using 3-D printing techniques and rod bending from Medicrea, surgeons will be able to deliver better spinal alignments to patients.
With the UNid HUB, surgeons will be able to track all of their patients, analyze their medical history and keep in constant contact with biomedical engineers in real-time. Therefore surgeons and patients will always be made aware of the most up-to-date information on the construction of implants and any future problems that may arise. The technology is scheduled for wide release in October 2017, and should make a tremendous difference to the healthcare industry.
In May of 2017 a new bionic hand was developed at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom. This hand was different than any that came before it. The hand, fitted with a camera was designed to take pictures of objects in front of it. The hand then determined the shape and sizes of these objects and proceeded to create movement mimicking that of a real hand.
While many other features of healthcare have advanced dramatically in the last century, prosthetic limbs are not one of them. This bionic hand will change all of that allowing the proliferation of bionic limbs throughout the industry. The best thing about the bionic hand is its responsiveness. Also termed, “the intuitive hand,” the bionic hand is trained to react without thinking. Thus it is able to perform as well as a normal hand.
While modern prosthetic hands use myoelectric signals to work, the bionic hand uses computer vision. The computer vision enables the hand to move more freely and smoothly like any normal hand. This ability is because the computer is not only being taught to recognize images, it is being taught to recognize objects and group them accordingly. For instance, the computer will recognize that a stick will require a different grasp than a cup.
Nothing is more intense than surgery. So many risks are associated with surgery. Often there are too many variables to determine whether a surgery will be 100% successful. Advancing technology is alleviating this problem, with the invention of da Vinci. Touted as a minimally invasive surgery procedure, surgeons use the da Vinci system to perform very precise surgeries on patients.
Surgeons utilize the magnified 3-D high definition vision system that is also equipped with smaller instruments and “wrists” that are more flexible than a human hand. This results in fewer and smaller incisions being made on the patient. Surgeons benefit from the use of this device as it helps them reach problematic areas easier, view more clearly and make more precise incisions.
da Vinci has been used for a wide range of surgeries, and currently boasts that over 3 million people have been successfully treated while using the equipment. Surgeries include:
- Colorectal Surgery
- Cardiac Surgery
- Head & Neck Surgery
- General Surgery
Robotics that disinfect
Many people have a fear of hospitals. Some of these fears are understandable, for example the fear of needles, blood or the proximity to sickness. Usually no one fears entering a hospital and becoming deathly ill from said hospital, but it’s a problem that is currently happening in hospitals all across the U.S… The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 1 out of every 25 patients will contract a hospital acquired infection (HAI). That number is frightening enough, but the CDC further estimates that of those who contract a HAI, nearly 1 in 9 will die costing more than $30 billion a year.
The solution to this problem has been solved. A company by the name of Xenex has created a robot that it claims is more effective at disinfecting a healthcare facility thoroughly. The robot uses high intensity ultraviolet light to quickly remove any microorganisms that might cause sickness in a hospital or healthcare facility. The UV light causes cellular damage to organisms by penetrating the cell walls. There are four types of cellular damage that are caused by Xenex’s robot:
- Photo hydration—this process pulls water molecules into the DNA of an organism and prevents transcription
- Photo splitting—during this phase the DNA is then broken down
- Photo dimerization—in this phase cell replication is diminished if not completely destroyed. The DNA bases have no proper way of fusing
- Photo crosslinking—cell wall damage is complete, and pathogens have no way of repairing themselves.
The advancement of this technology ensures cleaner hospitals and healthcare facilities. This provides an extreme level of comfort for both patients and healthcare providers alike.
Accuracy and efficiency are two of the most important staples in healthcare. A simple error in one or the other means the difference between life and death. A company named ScriptPro has developed a way that artificial intelligence and robotics can combine to help patients and pharmacists. ScriptPro’s robotic prescription dispensing system has the ability to fill almost 75% of a pharmacist’s prescription volume daily. Not only are these dispensers efficient they perform with precise accuracy.
The use of these robotic dispensers allows pharmacists the ability to interact more freely with patients, and help give guidance about medication, possible side effects and precautions. According to ScriptPro, the dispensers:
- Dispense prescriptions without air pressurized dispensing
- Ensure no cross-contamination
- Easily calibrate cells when drugs change
- Track out of stock prescriptions
Robotic pharmacists will inevitably change the way medication is delivered and dispersed to patients. The positive effect will be felt tremendously throughout the healthcare industry.
Technology will always evolve and humans will move forward with it. Artificial intelligence and robotics in healthcare will keep that advancement growing exponentially. Better healthcare will make better humans and in general a better world.
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