Friday, February 7, 2014

Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare

Health is a major concern for everyone. Knowing there is nothing wrong with you or your family is a top priority. As technology advances, companies are creating self-service tools to help people monitor their own health. I just listened to an interesting podcast from stuffyoushouldknow.com (click here to listen to the entire podcast) discussing the question, “Will computers replace doctors?” They made some great points on how Artificial Intelligence can benefit the future of medicine.

Today, people are beginning to take charge of their own health and not rely solely on what the doctors say; they are taking things into their own hands if you will. Wearable technology is being utilized in the health field in the form of heart monitors, calorie counters, etc.  Fit Bit and other wearable health trackers make it easy for consumers to trace and record health information. This technology provides users with quantitative data and the ability to determine on their own if a doctor’s visit is necessary.

Smartphone apps are also tapping into the medical field. There are already preliminary apps that essentially make you the doctor. An app called EyeNetra is trying to bring eye care to the public by providing them with prescriptions. Another app called AliveCor measures your ECG scores and can send them to your doctor for less than half the cost. All these apps are still advancing, but eventually you will be able to track all your health information on your Smartphone from different apps. And soon after that, all of these apps will be combined into one app where you can be in control of your own health. View this SlideShare for a visual example of how Virtual Agents can augment the Internet of Everything.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is not only being accessed by the public as a self advocacy tool, but also inside the medical field at the hospitals. Artificial Intelligence is in the process of becoming doctors themselves. This is still a new concept with lots of kinks to work out, but the benefits point us in a direction of Virtual doctors in the near future. In the podcast, they mention doctors lacking a consistent bedside manner due to personal problems, being busy, etc. The technology is readily available to create Virtual Agents with consistent, unbiased bedside manner, that people actually prefer interacting with. A study was mentioned about treating anxiety, and it was found that people were more willing to talk with a Virtual Agent avatar than a human therapist.

Another benefit of utilizing a Virtual Agent in the medical field is its ability to look up medical history and family history quickly. Often, doctors make diagnoses based mostly on intuition. They said, “1 in 5 diagnoses in the United States are incorrect or incomplete.” A Virtual Agent relies strictly on data and provides possible diagnoses with a high level of confidence based on previous personal and family history and/or current research.

 In your opinion, what does the future of medicine look like? Do you think doctors are going to be replaced by Artificial Intelligence or just used as aids? Would you prefer interacting with an avatar?

Happy Friday