How is artificial intelligence used in healthcare? Originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
What sort of artificial intelligence are we talking about? What we have nowadays? 20 minutes into the future? Far into the future?
I think this is what IBM’s Watson is up to right now. AI could be given data on illnesses, then given information on a patient and told to return some possibilities. As time goes on and it gets more information, it can make new connections and improve its predictions.
Perhaps something that works out a sliding scale payment based on the patient’s income? Or something that can navigate insurance payments or even help a patient find ways to pay for their medical bills?
I know, two very different topics. There are lots of people in the world who would be more comfortable talking to a non-human, though. Having an AI available for patient intake could help ease some patients’ social anxiety, the embarrassment associated with certain issues, or be able to switch languages on the fly for those who don’t speak the same language(s) as the human receptionist. For therapy, patients could do some therapeutic practices with an AI; for example, there are reading puppies for children and others who struggle with reading. An AI could be a sort of “next step,” once the patient has been doing well with the puppies and is ready to move on to getting some gentle feedback and encouragement from something less judgmental than a human.
So there’s those Da Vinci machines, right? Currently, telemedicine is just that: a doctor performing their trade long-distance. AI could be used to help fill in during hours that are strange for either patients or human practitioners, continue a surgery if the team doing it remotely needs to switch out for a little bit or there’s a sudden mass casualty event or something like that, or even perform surgeries on its own. It could also be extremely helpful in case of a biohazard. Less people put at risk, more care for those in need of it.
I read an article about some robots made to do this sort of thing. I think it might have been in Wired or the New York Times, I don’t remember. Anyways, the robots were given patients’ medicine and other supplies and told to go hand them out as needed. An AI might also be able to listen to a patient’s needs and get the appropriate person to deal with it.
Mass Casualty and Disaster Organization
This specific (hypothetical) scenario might be a little farther ahead from today, but here it is: A major disaster happens. An AI is given access to some cameras around town (perhaps traffic cameras or the security cameras of consenting businesses and organizations) to help detect victims and determine the state of the situation. It can decide where the safest and most convenient area(s) for EMTs and other medical professionals to bring patients to maybe, and set access zones as needed. Like the diagnosis AI above, it is given a given patient’s initial evaluation along with their triage code to best decide where a patient should go, how they can be brought there, and who the patient ought to go to. Later it serves to organize relief efforts, connect family and friends, and help people seek any assistance (legal, psychological, etc.) they may need.