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AI in healthcare: The unevenly distributed future is here

AI in healthcare: The unevenly distributed future is here | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

AI. Cognitive. RPA. Autonomics. Machine learning. Deep learning.

All these terms fly around in IT organizations today as CIOs, battling marketplace uncertainties and cost pressures, look for ways to enhance enterprise performance. As with most technology trends, the hype tends to overhang reality by a significant margin in the early stages of adoption, much in line with Gartner’s hype cycletheory.

 

Early this year, I wrote a piece that discussed how emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain will drive precision medicine this year. Halfway into the year, the signs are that the use of AI technologies has definitely picked up momentum.

 

A recent study by consulting firm Accenture provides us some interesting data points. Artificial Intelligence or AI in healthcare is expected to grow more than 10x in the next five years, to around $ 6.6 billion, at a compounded rate of over 40%. AI represents a $150 billion savings opportunity for healthcare, across a wide range of applications: robot-assisted surgery, clinical diagnosis and treatment options, and operational efficiencies, to name a few. In my firm’s work with healthcare technology firms and enterprises, there is definitely a palpable excitement about the growing demand for AI in healthcare. Before unpacking what that means, it may be worthwhile defining some of the terms that are used interchangeably and synonymously with AI.

 

At the operating levels, autonomics and robotic process automation (RPA) refer to software that runs on pre-determined rules and eliminates the need for human intervention (a good example is fetching benefit eligibility information in a health plan or managing routine IT infrastructure operations). In many cases, these tools – sometimes referred to as “bots” – learn from patterns of requests and remediate/update their algorithms to respond in a more intelligent fashion over time. At higher levels of application, cognitive and AI systems aim to “mimic” humans in terms of reasoning and judgment based on techniques such as neural networks and Bayesian models that help these technologies come close to making decisions in a human-like manner. However, as IBM CEO Ginni Rometty points out, these techniques are more about augmenting human intelligence today, not replacing it (man and machine, not man vs. machine).

 

There is no doubt that these emerging technologies can transform healthcare. There is a rapidly growing body of use cases and successful applications of AI in operational and clinical areas. Here are a few examples of how AI technologies are currently being applied in the healthcare and life sciences sectors.

 

Health plans: There is considerable traction today applying RPA tools and AI technologies for improving productivity and efficiencies in health plans. By codifying workflow rules and enabling self-learning through ontological patterns and databases, these technologies are being used in areas such as provider data management, claim approvals and exception management, fraud detection, and customer service operations.

 

Health systems: AI and automation tools have found wide applications in a range of functions including revenue cycle operations, diagnosis and treatment, and population health management initiatives. IBM’s Watson Health engine, for example, has made significant strides in applying cognitive and AI technologies in the field of oncology and diabetic retinopathy, allowing the search and analysis of vast amounts of data and knowledge to provide clinicians with inputs for targeted intervention options.

 

Life sciences: Pharma companies have started successfully applying AI tools in clinical trial phases of new drugs by automatically generating content required for regulatory submissions and reviews. On the other side of the equation, these tools are being applied in pharmacovigilance for case intake and reporting on the adverse effects of drugs. There is increasing interest in the use of AI for improving efficiencies in supply chain operations. 

 

Across all of these segments, there are several commonly used applications, an example of which is the use of AI technologies for IT infrastructure operations in detecting and remediating network errors and application failures. Another example is the use of AI in patient engagement programs, especially for managing chronic conditions such as diabetes through automated alerts and interventions based on analysis of real-time data gathered through intelligent devices and wearables.

 

As the use of AI technologies gains momentum, more use cases will surely emerge. As healthcare transitions from a fee-for-service to a value-based care era, the need for advanced technologies for everything from precision medicine to increased operational efficiencies and improved patient engagement will drive the adoption rates for these technologies. Many of these initial projects are in pilot phases, and in the broader context, there is a relatively small number of healthcare enterprises that are investing in these technologies and programs. That is par for the course for new technologies in any field. Mainstream adoption may be a bit further away, and in the current environment of policy uncertainty, many of the smaller enterprises are likely to be in wait and watch mode, choosing to stay with business as usual till there is some clarity.

 

To paraphrase the sci-fi writer William Gibson, the future is already here, only it is unevenly distributed. This may be the most accurate summary of AI in healthcare at this time.

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Barbara Lond's curator insight, December 22, 2017 3:42 PM
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ECRI: Top 10 Healthcare Innovations

ECRI: Top 10 Healthcare Innovations | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

New technologies are made available with a view to improving patient care as well as reducing costs. For healthcare executives, deciding what to bring into their hospitals – and what to keep out – may not be easy.

 

"Navigating new technologies is one of the biggest challenges we hear about from hospital leaders," according to Robert P. Maliff, director of Applied Solutions Group, ECRI Institute. "They simply can't afford to miss the mark on which clinical advancements to bring in to improve patient care."

 

ECRI has released its annual "Top 10 Hospital C-suite Watch List" that can serve as a guide for hospital leaders in making tough decisions about new and emerging technologies in 2017 and beyond. The list draws upon ECRI's nearly 50 years of experience evaluating and providing technical assistance on the safety, efficacy, and cost-effectiveness of health technologies.

 

The topics and tech ECRI found will affect care delivery over the next 12-18 months:

 

1. Liquid biopsies. These are a genetic testing mechanism that uses a patient's blood, plasma, serum or urine, instead of biopsied tissue. Liquid biopsies are easier to obtain and are less risky for the patient. The FDA approved the first liquid biopsy for cancer in June 2016.

 

2. Genetic testing and biosensors for opioid addiction. Genetic tests can help identify individuals at the greatest risk for opioid addiction. Current tests aren't ready for wide use, but are in the pipeline. Also, biosensors (worn like wristwatches) can detect relapse episodes for opioid addicts using skin temperature, electrodermal activity and movement.

 

3. Abdominal surgery initiative. Initiatives that include a web-based, risk-assessment algorithm and patient coaching can prevent poor outcomes and reduce costs of patients facing major abdominal surgery.

 

4. Horizon scanners. Organisations should designate a leader to conduct tests and future planning on technology developments and care processes, as a way to better make decisions on infrastructure, equipment purchases and predict inpatient cases.

 

5. Ultraviolet-C LEDs for disinfection. This latest LED option comes in strips and emits UV-C light with the greatest germicidal effect – and efficient use of power. Developers are also working on sanitising wands and UV disinfecting cabinets for mobile devices.

 

6. AI. The humanoid robot Pepper can interpret human body language and read emotion to respond accordingly to the user, evolving as it learns the person. It can also be programmed to fit an environment.

 

7. Robotic surgery. The latest surgical robot model is designed for complex surgeries. It boasts four robotic arms attached overhead that can be repositioned without the need to undock the robot. It communicates with a new type of OR table, which allows for automatic repositioning.

 

8. Fluorescent endoscopic imaging. Indocyanine green imaging highlights malignant tissue during an endoscopy that is normally undetectable under regular light, making it easier for physicians to distinguish malignant tumours from healthy tissue.

 

9. Immunotherapy and stem cell therapy for Crohn's disease. Ovasave, a new, personalised T-cell immunotherapy, uses antigen-specific regulatory T-cells generated by in vitro exposure to ovalbumin to treat patients with refractory Crohn's.

 

10. Type 1 diabetes vaccines. There are two types of these vaccines: a therapeutic vaccine to slow or stop the autoimmune attack on insulin-producing islet cells for patients with some residual islet function, and a preventative vaccine to create immune tolerance of islet cells in children with an increased genetic risk of developing the disease.

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Six Ways Technology Is Changing Health Care System As We Know It

Six Ways Technology Is Changing Health Care System As We Know It | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Several leaps have been made in our health care industry over the last two decades and technology is considered to be the driving force behind most of these improvements.

A careful examination will reveal how different digital innovations is ushering in an era of democratization of medical care in which patients have more control over their health care. The enormous growth of our communication technology has also made it easier to combat the kind of epidemic situation that seems insurmountable few centuries ago.

Below is a compilation of six different Ways technological advancement is changing the face of 21st Century medical practices.

1. Robotic surgery and Robotic Checkups

Surgical robotics is one of the new technological advancements that are revolutionizing health care. For instance, laparoscopic surgery is turning major surgeries that usually leave scars and keep patients in the hospital for several days into fairly minor procedures.

A recent study by surgeons at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington showed that a supervised autonomous robot could perform soft-tissue surgery better than a human surgeon. This is a big leap on how technology is enhancing health care in 21st century.

Robotic check-Ups is another area of technological advancement in health care. According to a report by Michael MacRae, we now have FDA approved robots with the capacity to patrol hospital hallways, checking on patients in different rooms and also manage patient’s individual charts and vital signs without human contact.

The robot is basically a mobile cart device with a two-way video screen with medical monitoring equipment. It was intelligently programmed in such a way that it could maneuver itself through a busy hospital hall.

2. Technology for Fighting Addiction

Technology is also changing how we treat addiction of different kinds. Technology Assisted Care (TAC) involves the use of technology devices to deliver some aspects of psychotherapy or behavioral treatment directly to patients via interaction with a web-based program.

A number of technology based interventions are proving to be very effective in treating substance use disorders (SUD). An example is Therapeutic Education System (TES), an interactive, web-based psychosocial intervention for SUDs. Another example is “Project Quit“, a web-based smoking cessation program. Many addiction treatment centers all across US are leveraging these technology based addiction treatment modalities to achieve more effective results.

The technology based system simply replicates a therapy program that is already known to work when delivered by a human and they do so with consistency and at a time and place convenient to the patient.

3. The Age of Patient-Centered Care (PCC)

One of the main conclusions of a review study conducted by researchers from John Hopkins University few years ago is that combining patient-centered care principles with health information technology improves overall health care outcome significantly.

The study which was published by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality in 2012 reviewed over 300 published articles between 1998 and 2010. Ever since, many other studies have reiterated the significant role advancement in technology is playing in enhancing patient-centered care.

An article published by Dr. Lawrence Rosen in 2013 identified 3 distinct ways IT is improving PCC. One of these is the development of patient portal which now makes it possible for patients to update their health and demographic information, request appointments and prescriptions, receive test results, and communicate via secure messaging.

Such technology has not only increased the efficiency of doctor-patient communication, it’s enabling doctors to spend more quality time with their patients. According to Dr. Jon Ward, a dermatology specialist in Florida, many specialists’ hospitals are now designing their whole operation around this concept of PCC.

4. Ingestible Sensors and Smart Pills

The development of Neuro-stimulation system for addressing chronic cluster headache and Ingestion monitoring systems are some of the ways technology is revolutionizing health care.

Doctors have linked most forms of chronic cluster headache to the sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG), a nerve bundle located behind the nose. Until now, there is yet to be a long term treatment that works on the SPG. The new technology which involves the stimulation of the SPG offers a reversible and adjustable option to control the debilitating pain of cluster headache.

The technology which is under clinical investigation was developed by Autonomic Technologies, Inc (ATI). The ATI Neuro-stimulation system is a patient-powered tool for blocking SPG signals at the first sign of a headache.

There are two components of the system. The permanent implant of a small nerve stimulating device called ATI Neurostimulator, and the handheld remote controller. The whole system works by delivering low-level energy directly to the area of the SPG.

Aside the electronic drug like Neuro-stimulator and Ingestion monitoring systems, the development of Cognitive Enhancement Drugs is also becoming a trend that could shape history and herald a 21st century of neuroscience.

By leveraging both innovative technologies and predictive knowledge, scientists are developing smarter ways to create the kind of drugs that seems impossible 20 years ago. According to a recent article by JonHa Revesencio on HuffingtonPost, smart drugs, like Noopept and Adrafinil, are the secrets behind a lot of the World’s Tech Billionaires.

Although these drugs don’t fundamentally make people smart, they mainly enhance users’s focus, memory, motivation, attention, mental clarity, and problem solving abilities. How much impact these type of drugs have on healthcare and lifestyle are still subject of debate in the academic realm.

5. Technology for Combating Epidemics

Technology is playing a key role in combating outbreak of infectious diseases. One glaring example is the recent Ebola pandemic. During the outbreak, technological tools were harnessed for early diagnosis, early warning communication and messaging, training, real time monitoring, and epidemiological surveillance.

The use of technological tool such as Touch-free infra red thermometer and a virus-killing robot also help prevent the spread of the virus in the United States. This type of technology helped enhance real-time data sharing and collaboration between scientists across different fields. It is also interesting to note that infrared thermometers are now becoming invaluable tools for home use as well.

6. Adoption of Laser Technologies

The word LASER stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. The adoption of laser technologies for medical treatment is one of the new ways technological advancement is changing health care system.

A review article by scientist from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston laid out different laser platforms available for medical treatment and how to identify the most appropriate laser for specific issues. Laser technology is now applicable for treating a range of medical issues from cancer treatment to hair removal and toenail fungus.

Technology is revolutionizing the health care industry in very unique ways. The technology is driving healthcare ahead in a way that could deliver great dividends to healthcare providers and consumers.

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