9 Ways Artificial Intelligence is Affecting the Medical Field

Amanda Page | Apr 19th 2012

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Robotic science has always been a basis for Hollywood entertainment, Sci-Fi novels and childhood fantasies. Artificial intelligence isn’t a new concept, and while the technology hasn’t advanced to Spielbergian expectations, AI is being used to transform manufacturing, education, business, and even the health care industry. Take a look at some of the ways that AI is improving medicine.

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Reduced mortality rate

Artificial intelligence is what gives computers the ability to learn, think, reason, and even understand human emotions, allowing computers to do more then just repetive tasks. In the medical field, AI is being designed to assist doctors (not replace them) in the effort to reduce the mortality rate among patients awaiting care from specialists.

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Fast and accurate diagnostics

In the case of AI, the neural network of the brain is successfully imitated, even including the ability to learn from past cases. Several studies on artificial neural networks showed that they are able to accurately diagnose some diseases including malignant melanoma, eye problems, and many forms of cancer by analyzing spectral information and diagnostic criteria.

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Therapeutic robots

Cuddling and caring for pets has always had a cathartic effect on our health, which is the basis for therapeutic animal robots that have been developed to help Alzheimer’s patients. Robotic pets help nurture brain function by delaying cognitive problems that in turn improves quality of life, and reduces the reliance on social services, allowing a person to stay in their home longer with less medical assistance.

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Reduce errors related to human fatigue

Doctors see roughly 80 patients per week, which can be very exhausting considering the individual amount of attention and knowledge each person requires.  Unlike a human doctor, AI is un-phased by numbers of patients, long work hours, and task redundancy.  Think of AI as sort of a super-human spell checker, assisting doctors by eliminating human error and relieving them of time consuming, monotonous tasks.

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Decrease in medical costs

AI assistants/programs could significantly reduce medical costs by eliminating office visits with online care.  Patients would be asked to submit data more frequently via online medical records, and the improved line of communication could result in less office visits. Further cost reductions could come from efficient AI diagnosing and screening of high-risk patients as well as by eliminating human errors in record keeping and diagnosis.

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Movement assistance

As the medical community struggles to meet the needs of patients, hospitals may want to turn to robots to augment their work force and to outsource repetitive yet necessary tasks such as pharmacy operations and pill dispensing. The break through HAL 5 (Hybrid Assistive Limb) suit has been designed to overcome mobility challenges and can double the amount of weight someone can carry, making it a potentially valuable tool for health care professionals.

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Minimally invasive surgery advances

The Da Vinci Si HD Surgical System has already made great strides in surgical robotics. The system offers doctors superior visualization, precision, and comfort.  Such surgical robots already deliver smaller incisions, reduce patient pain, minimize need for medication, and shorten hospital stays; all of which reduce medical costs.

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Improved radiology

Robotic Radiosurgery Systems like CyberKnife offer a non-invasive alternative to treating malignant and benign tumors anywhere in the body. The system uses image-guided technology and computer controlled mobility to detect and correct tumor and patient movement throughout the treatment.  It delivers precise radiation to the tumor, reducing damage to surrounding healthy tissue.

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Virtual presence

Thanks to virtual presence technology, you may never have to leave your bed again.  Using a remote presence robot, doctors are able to engage with patients and staff without actually being there.  They are able to move around and interact almost as effectively as if they were present.  This allows specialists to assist patients that may not be able to travel to see a particular doctor.