Empowering Patients with AI: Fast, Accurate Medical Advice

Empowering Patients with AI- Fast, Accurate Medical Advice
Photo Courtesy: Ashkan Eliasy

By: Mae Cornes

Artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming healthcare from cumbersome, error-prone processes into efficient, accurate systems. Through technologies like machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP), healthcare providers can now better understand patient needs and deliver personalized treatments, health tips, medication reminders, and follow-up care instructions. Healthcare operations also benefit from AI-automated routine tasks and optimized resource allocation.

Inventive tools make these advancements possible. For instance, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved 124 novel devices in 2023, the highest record in the agency’s history. Dr. Ashkan Eliasy, a U.K.-based scientist and entrepreneur, views this milestone as proof of the accelerating innovation in the MedTech sector. He stresses the need for MedTech companies to prioritize personalization and digital transformation to sustain this momentum.

Current AI Applications in Healthcare

AI’s sophisticated capabilities are evident in its practical impact on advancing medical diagnostics. Its integration into medical imaging, such as X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans, helps doctors obtain quicker and more accurate diagnoses. Dr. Eliasy’s research on AI in corneal diagnosis explores how AI influences clinical decision-making in corneal diseases. He and his co-authors found that when integrated with corneal subspecialty technology, AI effectively manages imaging data and supports clinicians in refractive surgery screening.

AI also automates administrative tasks in healthcare facilities like scheduling, record-keeping, and billing, enhancing operational efficiency and reducing the burden on medical staff. “With AI handling administrative tasks, staff can focus more on patient needs. There is now less room for errors and more opportunities for better care delivery,” notes Dr. Eliasy.

Moreover, AI accelerates drug discovery by analyzing vast datasets to identify potential drug candidates, predict their efficacy, and assess safety profiles. It also supports clinical trials by developing protocols, identifying the suitable candidates, and analyzing data. This process reduces the time and cost of bringing new drugs to market. Such particularly benefits patients with rare diseases who need innovative treatments. An accelerated drug development process broadens the range of medical conditions and patients served.

The Future of Patient Empowerment

Known for exploring AI in healthcare, Dr. Eliasy has numerous insights into its potential use in patient care and healthcare provision. He envisions AI-powered concierge services becoming commonplace in hospitals and health centers. These services would offer personalized health assistance based on patient data, providing medication reminders, symptom monitoring, and real-time health advice.

AI can enhance patient monitoring in hospitals through real-time data analysis. AI-powered remote monitoring systems can track vital signs like heart rate, blood pressure, and blood oxygen levels, alerting healthcare professionals to any concerning changes. Additionally, AI can advance robotic surgery, with AI-driven surgical robots assisting surgeons in manipulating and positioning surgical instruments with high precision. As these robots can perform tasks without fatigue, surgeons can focus on more complex aspects of surgeries.

Immersive technologies like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) can create a more responsive, patient-centered healthcare environment. VR offers 3D experiences, transporting patients from their hospital rooms and allowing them to virtually attend family events or holidays.

In post-treatment support, AI-powered wearable devices can monitor vital signs, sleep patterns, and physical activities, sending predictive alerts for potential health issues before they become serious. This allows customized recommendations for diet and exercise based on their specific health conditions, accelerating recovery and promoting long-term wellness. Moreover, AI’s ability to analyze long-term health data helps predict health trends and suggest preventive measures for ongoing health management.

There is also an opportunity for home-based healthcare. AI-improved domiciliary devices can reduce the need for physical clinic visits by enabling remote early diagnostics, monitoring, and even treatment administration. In addition, Dr. Eliasy anticipates the deployment of community health bots in rural and underserved urban areas that can perform basic diagnostics and educate people about health. Interactive tools and gamification can help engage patients in learning about their health conditions, making complex medical information more accessible.

Dr. Eliasy also believes that with advanced regulated NLP, psychological support can be facilitated 24/7 through chatbots or virtual consultations. These AI-powered services can provide confidential assistance for common conditions such as anxiety, trauma, panic attacks, and depression. Such reliable support can empower patients, especially those who suffer sudden attacks, to manage their mental well-being proactively.

Main Challenges and Ethical Considerations

Despite its benefits, AI in healthcare presents challenges. The lack of clear regulations governing the implementation of AI technologies slows the adoption of AI solutions. Healthcare providers and developers grapple with uncertainty regarding compliance and potential liabilities.

Unlike traditional software, AI systems require continuous learning and ongoing training to enhance accuracy and performance. “There’s always something new to learn from new and ever-evolving data with AI. Technology developers and clinical professionals should always be ready to test, implement, and adapt,” Dr. Eliasy adds.

There are also concerns about inclusivity, equity, and fairness. AI algorithms have the potential to be biased, perpetuating or exacerbating disparities in healthcare access and outcomes. These biases can discriminate against marginalized or underrepresented populations, leading to higher inaccessibility rates in the healthcare system. However, new algorithms, such as GPT-4o, demonstrated a solid ability to gradually overcome these challenges. 

AI’s Promise

Imagine AI-powered early diagnostics and remote interventions identifying severe pain or discomfort before necessitating a physical hospital visit. This would alleviate the burden on healthcare systems, allowing better care provision and increasing quality of life, productivity, and economic stability. This scenario is just one of the many future potentials of AI as it continues to be integrated into medical health processes.

The future promises accessibility, effectiveness, and personalization of healthcare, potentially transforming every facet of patient care and making optimal health achievable for individuals worldwide.

In Dr. Eliasy’s words in his Startups Magazine article, “The time is ripe for embracing AI’s potential. The future of AI in healthcare is not just a vision – it’s an attainable reality, and the steps we take now will shape the course of this exciting journey.”

Published by: Nelly Chavez


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