Will the healthcare industry welcome artificial intelligence?
In the healthcare sector as well as several other industries, artificial intelligence has been among the most significant technological advances over the past year.
According to a recent report from research firm Frost & Sullivan, consumers will spend over $6 billion on AI tools by year 2021. AI will affect everything from diagnosing illnesses to weight-loss coaching.
The potential for AI technology is off the charts, while the emergence of AI in medical imaging has become more prevalent through IBM’s billion-dollar acquisition of Merge Healthcare.
Its ability to sort and remember information could create new digital doctors.
“Prior to 2015, most of what was happening was sort of academic: pilot programs, exploratory and proof of concept type stuff,” said Venkat Rajan, global director for Frost & Sullivan’s Visionary Healthcare Program. “Now, you’re actually seeing commercial usage.”
While these digital doctors aren’t expected to take jobs away from humans, they will help lighten the workload to ensure real doctors don’t become overly fatigued. They will also be helpful for healthcare facilities that can’t afford a team of physicians with different subspecialties.
In addition, a computer-aided diagnosis can weigh several more factors than a doctor could themselves. This includes review a patient’s entire history quickly while taking risk factors such as age, previous diseases and residence into consideration.
But not every application of medial AI will be for doctors. Some of the innovation will go toward assisting people manage their own health to control chronic conditions such as diabetes.
One of AI’s benefits is the ability to help patients stay healthy so they don’t need to see a doctor as often.
“It’s one level to make the diagnosis, but it’s another to support the patient,” said Rajan. “The benefit is being able to understand you better and provide better feedback, guidance and support.”
Skin Analytics wins NHSX award for AI skin cancer tool
An artificial intelligence-driven tool that identifies skin cancers has received an award from NHSX, the NHS England and Department of Health and Social Care's initiative to bring technology into the UK's national health system.
NHSX has granted the Artificial Intelligence in Health and Care Award to DERM, an AI solution that can identify 11 types of skin lesion.
Developed by Skin Analytics, DERM analyses images of skin lesions using algorithms. Within primary care, Skin Analytics will be used as an additional tool to help doctors with their decision making.
In secondary care, it enables AI telehealth hubs to support dermatologists with triage, directing patients to the right next step. This will help speed up diagnosis, and patients with benign skin lesions can be identified earlier, redirecting them away from dermatology departments that are at full capacity due to the COVID-19 backlog.
Cancer Research has called the impact of the pandemic on cancer services "devastating", with a 42% drop in the number of people starting cancer treatment after screening.
DERM is already in use at University Hospitals Birmingham and Mid and South Essex Health & Care Partnership, where it has led to a significant reduction in unnecessary referrals to hospital.
Now NHSX have granted it the Phase 4 AI in Health and Care Award, making DERM available to clinicians across the country. Overall this award makes £140 million available over four years to accelerate the use of artificial intelligence technologies which meet the aims of the NHS Long Term Plan.
Dr Lucy Thomas, Consultant Dermatologist at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, said: “Skin Analytics’ receipt of this award is great news for the NHS and dermatology departments. It will allow us to gather real-world data to demonstrate the benefits of AI on patient pathways and workforce challenges.
"Like many services, dermatology has severe backlogs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This award couldn't have come at a better time to aid recovery and give us more time with the patients most in need of our help.”