7 Applications of Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare

There is hardly an industry today that has been left out from the Midas touch of the Artificial Intelligence Revolution. Modern healthcare is not just about eradicating diseases. The Transhumanist Movement is a philosophy that seeks the evolution of human life beyond its current form. Transhumanists are working to get rid of human limitations like our finite memory, aging, myopic vision, incurable diseases, and physical disabilities. AI-powered gadgets like cyborgs are destined to bring a tremendous revolution in healthcare.

Albeit the future looks promising, for now, this article talks about 7AI-powered technologies that have already brought a revolution in our everyday life.

1. Chatbots To Help Fight Depression

Courtesy: A Numb Mind

While depression affects over 300 million people across the globe, ‘Woebot‘ created by the Stanford psychologist Alison Darcy in 2017 will help such people cheer up. ‘Woebot’ can chat with patients, sending a response based on mood profiling. This therapeutic chatbot uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) to detect the moods of users from the texts and also teaches the users how to maintain their sanity through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Currently, ‘Woebot’ also provides assistance on Facebook Messenger.

The effectiveness of another chatbot app, Shim, was analyzed by the researchers of Linköping University and Karolinska Institute, Sweden, reinforced the usefulness of mental health apps by showing a significant decrease in Perceived Stress (PSS-10) levels in 14 non-clinical subjects who volunteered for the study.

Courtesy: A Numb Mind

Michiel Rauws who worked with Syrian refugees realized that people can be made to reframe their thoughts and thus, improve their lives. He developed Tess, an AI chatbot that can help psychologists deliver mental health coaching and personalized advice. It claims to reduce depression by 13% and anxiety by 18%.

Thus, mental health bots act as 24×7, non-human points of support and communication for people, particularly the stressed-out millennials low on self-esteem.

2. Health Tracker

Credits: Unsplash

Portable gadgets can track your health and guide you when you go wrong. Several MedTech companies like Philips and FitBit have come up with smart wearables like smartwatch and headband that can monitor your heart rate, respiratory functioning, fatigue level, and even your sleep routine. It updates the user about any abnormal health condition so it could be taken care of prior to any severe health problem.

Even smart textiles have made inroads to personal fitness. The design of smart wearables requires calibration of body signals like bioimpedance which involves the implementation of machine learning algorithms.

3. Smart Bionics

Credit: suitX

Gone are the days when prosthetics were meant to support amputees and help them do day-to-day chores. With fast development in soft robotics, the trend is shifting towards building exoskeletons and prosthetics that can restore your sensation of feeling while you touch an object. Revolutions in optoelectronics brought about by quantum dots, nanocrystals and nanowires have made inroads for the smart bionic eye.

Biomedical researchers from Newcastle University have recently developed a prosthetic with an AI-powered camera. The prosthetic has been trained using deep learning technology to recognize over 500 objects. The prosthetic can click the image of the object and reorient itself to a unique ‘grasp’ style. For example, while moving your hand towards a pen, AI-powered camera clicks the photo of the object and the prosthetic adjusts itself to the ‘pinch and grab’ style.

Read: 10 Medically Approved Exoskeletons To Suit Up

But is restoring normality the end of bionics research? No.

You love playing football the whole day, but you easily get burned out. How would react if I told you that scientists can make a customizable exosuit for you that allows you to run the whole day without getting tired?

Smart bionics are meant to enhance human capacity. In his famous TED talk, Dr. Hugh Herr reveals about ‘NeuroEmbodied Design’ as a methodology to create cyborgs. A cyborg is a human-machine hybrid and neural implants have enhanced the memory retention capabilities of humans taking us a step closer to being a cyborg.

4. Virtual Check-up

Courtesy: mFine

Well most of us are not a fan of hospitals or doctors. Who likes a depressing place like a hospital where we get the news of the death of our dear ones or about our ailments? But thanks to the interference of artificial intelligence in the medical field because of which you don’t have to visit the hospitals more often.

Remedy is an app where you can engage yourself in a conversation seeking advice for ailments from the doctors without actually leaving the comfort of your bed. Each ‘Remedy visit’ costs $30, making it affordable for people by US-medical standards.

Virtual Checkup is also making inroads in India. With a huge population and over 60% of its population in rural areas, there is a shortage of doctors in almost every hospital.

mfine is a Bengaluru (the Silicon Valley of India) based startup that has partnered with several corporate hospitals to deliver patients medical care at their fingertips. The patient just has to enter the symptoms, choose a doctor and the app would instantly connect him to the doctor. The patient gets a valid prescription on his smartphone and he is eligible for free future consultations.

The startup has already bagged Series A funding of $4.2 million.

5. Medical Imaging

Credits: Unsplash

We all are aware of various medical imaging techniques like CT scan. Well, machine learning algorithms have made medical imaging quiet simpler and more precise. The human drawbacks are corrected by using artificial intelligence and a more detailed and precise image is produced which helps in accurate diagnosis of ailments or abnormalities.

A company named Zebra Medical Vision has developed a platform that uses computing and algorithms to analyze the medical imaging reports precisely and inform the user about any possible disorder.

6. Virtual Rehabilitation

Courtesy: Toyra

Taking care of children with disabilities and paraplegic or tetraplegic patients is a lot of pain for their near and dear ones. Children with autism often lack social cognitive skills. They have to be trained to cope up with their surroundings. Further, the rehabilitation of a paraplegic person involves training on balance and functional performance.

Brain Power developed Empower Me is a coaching application that runs on Google Glass hardware and Affectiva emotion-recognition software. The wearable is targeted at children and adults with autism and aims to aid in teaching teach social and cognitive skills.

Several studies have been carried out in the last decade to determine the effectiveness of VR-based games in training and rehabilitation of paraplegics. Toyra is an audio-visual virtual reality system that aims to help clinicians and patients in rehabilitation therapies. In one of the clinical trials carried out at Biomechanics and Technical Aids Department of the National Spinal Cord Injury Hospital in Toledo, Spain using Toyra to evaluate the effectiveness of the VR system in tetraplegia, significant improvement in the manual muscle test was found in the patients.

7. Drug Development

Credits: Unsplash

The process of drug development is quite expensive and time-consuming. It takes years of research and clinical testing before assuring the safety of the medicine and dispatching it to the market. But the intervention of AI in medical science has made the process a lot easier and less time-consuming. The AI fueled supercomputers can analyze the molecular structure of the drugs and approve it for human consumption. Recently, this technology has helped in the development of two drugs that can fight the deadly Ebola virus.

When Elon Musk warned that humans must become cyborgs — an amalgam of biological intelligence and machine intelligence, to stay ahead of robots in the future, he can foresee how AI will be reinventing the world we live in. Frost & Sullivan estimate AI market in healthcare will exceed $6 billion by 2021. AI has already expanded the human potential but the future revolutions in the healthcare industry due to AI will be intriguing.


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