Is Artificial Intelligence Ready To Overhaul Healthcare Sector

by Sohini Bagchi    Oct 19, 2017


Artificial Intelligence (AI) which is changing the world, is making its presence felt in the healthcare sector. The rapid pace at which the scientific innovations are taking place, the expansion of AI into various healthcare verticals and the fact that the efficiency of systems can be improved using AI are some of the factors that are currently driving the market, believe researchers.

The use of artificial intelligence in the medical and healthcare sector has revolutionized the industry with artificial intelligence being used in several practices such as diagnostics, personalized medicine, the development of drugs, and continuous monitoring and care of the patients.

Numerous companies have invested in the application of artificial intelligence in healthcare. IBM’s Watson is being used for oncology and cancer treatment in the hospitals. IBM is also working with CVS Health for chronic disease treatment using the artificial intelligence. The company has also collaborated with Johnson & Johnson to find connections for the development of drugs. Whereas, Microsoft has collaborated with Oregon Health & Science University to provide cancer drug treatment options for the patients. Microsoft is working on several other healthcare projects including the image analysis of tumor progression and the development of programmable cells.

Google’s DeepMind is providing healthcare solutions to the patients via a mobile app. Additionally, Google is also developing computer vision algorithms to detect the cancerous tissue in collaboration with the UK National Health Services. Another Fortune 500 company, Intel, recently invested in a start-up called Lumiata which helps in identifying at-risk patients and developing solutions for them using artificial intelligence.

General Electric’s subsidiary, GE Healthcare, provides a wide range of services including medical imaging, medical diagnostics and patient monitoring system using artificial intelligence. GE Healthcare collaborated with Partners HealthCare to integrate artificial intelligence throughout every part of the patient experience. This ten year partnership aims at providing artificial intelligence tools for population health, pathology and genomics. GE Healthcare also collaborated with Harvard hospitals to detect abnormalities in scans using artificial intelligence that would benefit the radiologists.

According to a new market research report by BIS Research, titled “Global Artificial Intelligence Market in Healthcare Sector - Analysis and Forecast (2017-2025)“, the artificial intelligence market in healthcare sector is estimated to reach $28 billion by 2025 at a CAGR of 45.1% from 2017 to 2025. The increasing need for driving huge amount of complex data, which can be achieved with the use of artificial intelligence, is one of the major reasons for the growth of the artificial intelligence market in the healthcare sector.

Rishabh Sinha, an analyst at BIS Research said, “Artificial intelligence in the healthcare sector has maximum usage in the personal health & nursing assistant application. The adoption of personal health and nursing assistants has witnessed a robust growth, over the recent years. Presently, the people are more focused on utilizing their precious time doing something productive rather than wasting it in the hospitals waiting for their turn. The personal health and nursing assistants support the patients by analyzing their historical medical reports and present conditions.

The artificial intelligence market in the healthcare sector can be categorized into numerous key applications such as real-time monitoring, precision medicine, personal health & nursing assistants, drug development & discovery, robot-assisted surgery, administrative workflow assistance, clinical trials, diagnostic & clinical decision support, and ‘others’.

Others include connected machines, fraud detection, dosage error reduction, etc. Babylon is the perfect example of a personal health and nursing assistant application. Babylon is an application for Android and iOS users, which is based on common medical knowledge and personal medical history. The app checks the symptoms reported by the user against a database of diseases with the help of speech recognition. Surgical robots support the doctors by performing several types of complex procedures with more control, flexibility, and precision in comparison to the traditional technologies. It is an advancement of assistive, rehabilitation and surgical solutions, which can be used during hospital automation, physical complications and surgical procedures.

Geographically, North America dominated the global artificial intelligence market in healthcare sector, in 2016, in terms of value. The North American industry was an early adopter of the artificial intelligence technologies which has now made it a hub for the companies providing artificial intelligence solutions for the healthcare market. The region also offers potential growth opportunities to companies because of the increased adoption of artificial intelligence technologies across various verticals of the healthcare industry.

Asia Pacific has been the fastest growing region in terms of developments and innovations due to the presence of the leading companies such as IBM, Microsoft, Apple, Google, Siemens and GE Healthcare, among others. Japan has always been one of the leading regions when it comes to the technological developments because of its refined communications infrastructure. Japan has been emerging as a technological hub for research and development, which is attributed to the presence of numerous universities and industries providing healthcare services, in the nation.

However, even though adoption of business intelligence and clinical intelligence tools is on the rise as healthcare organizations equip themselves with the health IT infrastructure required to succeed with value-based care, healthcare organizations are still wary of cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence. According to a new HIMSS Analytics Essentials Brief, sixty-two percent of healthcare organizations have business intelligence systems in place, while 48 percent have adopted clinical intelligence tools in an effort to improve quality and safety.

“Organizations are becoming more sophisticated on how they approach IT implementation to address not only immediate needs but future needs as well. Included in this second phase is leveraging analytical platforms to manage the clinical, financial and operational data and to make it actionable to the benefit of the clinicians, the patients and the organization.”

An Accenture study found that 80 percent of healthcare executives believe AI is primed and ready to overhaul healthcare, especially when it comes to consumer relations. “AI is the new UI,” the report said. “It’s a new world where artificial intelligence is moving beyond a back-end tool for the healthcare enterprise to the forefront of the consumer and clinician experience.”

“AI is taking on more sophisticated roles, with the potential to make every technology interface both simple and smart – setting a high bar for how future interactions work.”

Artificial intelligence is likely to play a major role in expanding health IT ecosystem development.  Ninety percent of executives believe creating a platform-based business model supported by strong vendor partners is a critical competency for organizations.

A Gartner report offered a similarly rosy view of the upcoming AI landscape, suggesting that machine learning is the cornerstone of the developing digital healthcare ecosystem. “AI techniques are evolving rapidly and organizations will need to invest significantly in skills, processes and tools to successfully exploit these techniques and build AI-enhanced systems,” said David Cearley, Vice President and Gartner Fellow.

“Investment areas can include data preparation, integration, algorithm and training methodology selection, and model creation. Multiple constituencies including data scientists, developers and business process owners will need to work together.”

In order for providers to better understand and take advantage of what AI is likely to offer over the next few years as its maturity increases, organizations must continue to prioritize data governance, interoperability, and increased visibility into their big data assets and shortfalls, said researchers.