Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare

According to a video from BBC News, the ultimate goal of artificial intelligence is to create a computerized brain that can think for itself and learn new tasks of its own volition. While that goal may seem unrealistic to some, there are scientists who predict that such a system could be in place by 2050. In the meantime, however, current forms of artificial intelligence are already playing a significant role in everyday tasks. Smartphones, social network platforms, and search engines all use forms of artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence is even making waves in healthcare.

As you work toward or consider pursuing your online master’s in healthcare administration, you should understand how artificial intelligence may affect your future work in the industry. What forms of artificial intelligence are in place, and what developments may come into play in the future?

The Data Opportunity

An illustration of artificial intelligence.

Image via Flickr by A Health Blog

With the advent of increasingly advanced health informatics systems, data management and analysis in healthcare are experiencing continual refinement. Artificial intelligence could play a role in helping to make the most out of the data that healthcare providers collect.

Writing for Venture Beat, Charles Koontz, the Chief Digital Officer at GE Healthcare, stated, “Healthcare doesn’t have a big data problem. It has a big data opportunity, thanks to artificial intelligence.” His article cited one study that found that by 2025, the data generated by genomics alone could be equal to that generated by YouTube, Twitter, and astronomical science. Without proper channels to analyze and manage all that data, the healthcare industry could lose out on valuable insights.

Artificial intelligence is already making a positive impact in healthcare. Koontz’s article mentioned a collaboration between GE Healthcare and a university. The goal of the partnership is to develop a “library of deep learning algorithms to expedite and aid differential diagnosis and improve clinical workflows, shortening time to treatment and improving patient outcomes.”

Another promising venture in artificial intelligence has Google at its heart. An article from The Medical Futurist brings out that Google’s artificial intelligence project, Deepmind Health, is working on a way to mine data from medical records with the goal of providing better and faster healthcare. The project is still in its early stages, so its future success bears watching.

Many other companies are striving to develop artificial intelligence systems to assist both patients and healthcare providers. According to another Medical Futurist article, companies such as IBM, CareSkore, and Sentrian all have projects in the works to bring the benefits of AI into the medical landscape.

Artificial Intelligence to Benefit Patients

Patients may also be able to use artificial intelligence tools to take better care of their own health. According to Newsweek, diabetes afflicts close to 10 percent of the population. It is possible to reverse the condition with strict lifestyle changes, but adhering to such changes is extremely difficult for most diabetics. However, Virta Health may change that. Virta Health is, in essence, an artificial intelligence diabetes coach that prompts patients to enter data about their glucose levels, mood, blood pressure, and other vital aspects of health. The software’s purpose is to equip patients with the knowledge and metrics they need to manage their condition.


In clinical trials, 87 percent of patients who had been using insulin were able either to reduce their insulin usage or stop using insulin altogether with Virta Health’s help.

Artificial intelligence could benefit more than just those who suffer from diabetes. An article from The Medical Futurist mentioned that Babylon Health, a British company, has launched an artificial intelligence doctor app that recommends courses of action to patients based on their medical history and current symptoms. The Next Web touched on yet another artificial intelligence app for patients, Your.MD; it has a chatbot that analyzes symptoms and alerts users when they should visit a doctor.

A Glimpse Into the Future

There is an abundance of promising healthcare artificial intelligence projects in the works. However, some concerns exist. For example, how safe is data after an artificial intelligence system takes charge of it? What are the ethical implications of allowing an app to give medical advice to patients?

The Medical Futurist listed some ways the healthcare community can prepare to make the most out of artificial intelligence, including the following:

  •  Creating strong ethical standards to govern artificial intelligence
  • Gradual development and implementation of artificial intelligence so healthcare professionals have time to adapt to the technology
  • Putting a system in place to measure how successful artificial intelligence is in achieving its goals

Every new technology has its potential pitfalls, and artificial intelligence in healthcare is no exception. However, the benefits may outweigh the disadvantages. After extensive testing and vetting, artificial intelligence systems could not only assist in providing better and faster care, they could also have a positive economic impact. According to CNBC, diabetes cost over $100 billion in diagnosis and treatment in a recent year. With tools like Virta Health, that number may decrease.

Healthcare professionals, including administrators, may find it beneficial to learn as much as they can right now about available artificial intelligence systems so they can clearly understand the potential risks and rewards. As a senior data scientist at Sutter Health said, “… sophisticated learning and AI algorithms will find a place in healthcare over the coming years. I don’t know if it’s two years or ten — but it’s coming.”

Indeed, there is limitless potential for artificial intelligence applications across the healthcare industry, and providers and patients alike are waiting eagerly to find out more about how this technology will revolutionize care and improve patient outcomes.

Healthcare administrators can play a role in implementing and managing artificial intelligence. If you are interested in being at the forefront of this growth and development, learn more about University of Southern California’s Executive Master of Health Administration online.



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