Use of Artificial Intelligence to reduce Medical Errors

Use of Artificial Intelligence to reduce Medical Errors

Technology has changed the landscape of the healthcare industry over the past  few years. One such technological marvel that has revolutionized healthcare and is considered to be the future of healthcare technology is artificial intelligence. It has got tremendous potential and the ability to redesign healthcare and medical diagnosis completely.

What is Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare?

Artificial intelligence(AI) in healthcare are a set of computerized applications that make use of  various algorithms and software to emulate human cognition in the scrutiny of complex medical information and data. The main objective of these applications is to conduct a detailed analysis of the connections between the techniques used to diagnose, prevent and treat diseases and the actual patient outcomes or results. Artificial intelligence programs have been designed and applied to medical procedures such as diagnosis processes, treatment protocol development, drug development, personalized medicine, patient monitoring and care and various others. AI makes the maximum amount of investment in the healthcare industry currently in terms of venture capital deal flow.

How artificial intelligence can soon make medical errors a thing of the past?

At present there is a shortage of over 7 million medical and healthcare professionals all over the world and the problem is getting worse. Healthcare professionals are finding it especially difficult to serve the increasing needs of the population in areas which do not have access to proper healthcare facilities. This is where artificial intelligence steps in to overcome these challenges. As far as medical errors are concerned , some of the ways in which artificial helps to reduce them are discussed below:

#1 One of the most important functions of artificial intelligence in the field of healthcare is that they play a pivotal role in the optimization of the clinical procedures. Usually when patients seek medical attention from healthcare professionals and doctors , they are given prescriptions on the basis of questioning and routine check -ups. This leaves a chance for errors and wrong diagnosis as the doctors are after all human and they do not get enough time to attend to each patient individually due to the large number of cases that they have to handle. But with the advent of AI assistants, a major portion of the doctor’s clinical and outpatient services can be performed by  and delegated to these AI assistants, thus giving the doctors more time to attend to serious cases more efficiently and thereby reducing the probability of medical errors. Also, AI assistants have lesser chances of making mistakes than human professionals who can sometimes provide a wrong diagnosis due to excessive work pressure and lack of AI assistance.

#2 AI powered mobile apps such as Your.MD provide basic healthcare services much more efficiently than human professionals. Their chatbots enquire patients about their symptoms and give them medical information about their health conditions that is simple and easy-to-understand. This AI platform has a huge repertoire of information that finds the connections and links between the symptoms of the illnesses and the causes, thus hugely reducing the chances of wrong diagnosis and unwanted medical errors that could have serious consequences otherwise. This assistant utilizes natural language processing and generation to provide a fulfilling experience and machine learning algorithms in order to formulate a detailed map of the patient’s health condition and provide each patient with an individualized healthcare experience. This hugely reduces the chances of medical errors and these apps also suggest ways to effectively cure the diseases and notify patients whenever they are in need of urgent medical attention to consult their physicians. The authenticity and reliability of the information and guidelines provided by these apps have been approved by internationally certified organisations and thus patients can receive proper guidance from them which will eliminate the possibilities of errors which might have occurred as a result of wrong self-diagnosis by the patients.

#3 Other health assistants such as Ada conduct a detailed analysis of the patient’s medical history and provide them with an authentic symptom assessment report along with the option to contact a real medical professional.   Also, health assistants such as Babylon Health follow up with the patients on their previous symptoms and if required also arrange for a live video consultation with a doctor. Thus they can check medical errors in places where proper healthcare facilities and healthcare professionals are not available by providing these services and also save precious time and expenses of the patients as they no longer have to go to their doctors directly for minor illnesses and in under-served areas it can save many hours of the patient’s time which they have to spend waiting in queues to meet their doctors.

#4 Artificial intelligence plays a crucial role in timely and correct detection of serious illnesses whose treatment and prevention depends to a large extent on timely detection of the symptoms. Effective and timely diagnosis can cure such illnesses completely but a late or incorrect diagnosis can have potentially severe consequences.  Humans often tend to make mistakes when analyzing images and samples and making effective decisions but artificial intelligence algorithms can quickly study and scrutinize millions of samples in quick succession and reveal useful patterns. Humans tend to become less efficient with age but the same is not true of AI applications. Several medical institutions are nowadays investing in AI applications to develop effective healthcare solutions and reduce chances of medical errors by humans.

#5 The efficiency of some AI algorithms in detecting and diagnosing serious illnesses like skin cancer has been found to rival that of professional doctors. Other applications help in diagnosing eye conditions at the early stages and have been predicted to be able to prevent 98% of severe visual loss without the chances of human errors. The usual process of analyzing sleep patterns is complex and time-taking and there are chances of wrong diagnosis but with the help of machine learning algorithms like Morpheo the whole process of identification and diagnosis of sleep patterns is being automated which will help in predicting and preventing sleep disorders much better without the chances of errors.

#6 For some serious illnesses like cancer identifying the correct method of treatment and making it adjust to changes surmounting the health of the patients can be extremely difficult. AI applications study various data sources , then formulate patterns and present these to cancer care teams with a list of effective therapies and treatment options thus making their job a lot easier and error-free. This can be especially useful in smaller hospitals which do not have the adequate healthcare infrastructure and resources. Other applications like Aicure use AI and image analysis to make sure that patients with serious health conditions follow their doctor’s prescriptions properly. This plays an important role in preventing medical errors due to ineffective treatment and adherence to prescriptions.

According to a 2016 study by Frost and Sullivan , artificial intelligence has the potential reduce medical errors by 30-40% and treatment expenses by as much as 50%. According to WHO medical errors and faulty medical diagnosis are among the top 10 causes of fatalities worldwide and 1 in every 10 hospital admissions leads to a medical error and 1 in 300 admissions result in death as a result of these medical errors. So in this current scenario, artificial intelligence is undoubtedly the best way forward for hospitals and medical institutions to eliminate these medical errors and make healthcare much more safer and efficient. Indeed, AI has changed the way we look at healthcare nowadays and it is definitely going to benefit the healthcare industry in more ways than one in the days to come.

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Arindam Chatterjee

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