By Faramarz Farhoodi, CEO of AI Nexus Healthcare
The term digital transformation can be interpreted in many different ways. Rather than transforming healthcare practices, I like to view it as transforming the way healthcare is practiced.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the unique ability to process vast amounts of data and make sense of what they represent. If this is combined with the ability to reason with this data, then this unlocks a whole new sphere of potential — where technology and traditional healthcare intersect in a state of mutual benefit.
But what is required of AI and how do we digitally transform our overstretched healthcare system?
From ‘sick care’ to ‘smart care’
‘Smart care’ is a term we like to use that essentially means healthcare that embodies the ability of AI to not only spot concerning anomalies in data, but to do so at an early enough stage that serious medical intervention can be limited.
This preventative approach has significant application in both everyday civilian life and the social care sector, and, through remotely monitoring individuals by simply scanning their faces or fingerprints with a smartphone camera or from more than 100 other external collection points, many serious illnesses could be prevented or at least treated early.
Monitoring an individual’s vital signs such as heart rate, blood oxygen saturation and respiration rate offers a fundamental insight into the human body and often requires medical equipment and devices. By localizing this into one technological platform, individuals can now track their own vitals using just their smartphone and receive alerts at the earliest signs of any abnormalities or if medical intervention is recommended.
Many serious conditions possess early warning signs. For example, if an individual suffers from heart disease there is a high chance that there were an array of antecedent signals beforehand that could have prompted a lifestyle change and ultimately, prevented its onset. Despite this, many people only seek medical help once the disease is noticeable and having a significant impact on their life — ‘sick care’. What we need is technology that can intercept diseases at the earliest stage of detection and transport us to an era of ‘smart care’.
Thinking beyond deep learning
A digital transformation in healthcare requires AI to help embody the art and science of medicine and 99% of existing applications on the market focus simply on deep learning, which whilst important, is only a small subsection of AI that provides an algorithmic approach. Thinking beyond this is where the solution lies to improve the adoption of AI in healthcare — a process we at AI Nexus Healthcare, describe as Hybrid AI. This seeks to combine cognition with recognition — essentially AI that can reason and think beyond basic patterns in data, the same way any clinician would.
The capabilities of AI reach beyond simply tracking biometric and health data, as thanks to years of adjustment, and input from multiple medical professionals it can analyze this data to provide actionable, preventative recommendations. AI empowered care is like a ‘check engine’ light for the human body – alerting individuals the moment abnormal conditions arise, which in many cases, are long before medical intervention is required. There are an abundance of mobile health apps that provide consumers with raw data around things such as sleep patterns. However, the key is to look beyond this and convert something like irregular patterns in sleep data to functional advice, which could help identify potential medical conditions.
By combining and interpreting these data points, AI has the capacity to create easy-to-understand and actionable health advice. By going beyond basic pattern recognition, cognitive AI can help process data in a way that is inspired by the human brain – that emulates the diagnostic approach of a qualified doctor. Furthermore, the accumulated data can also be shared with and used by doctors to make a more informed diagnosis and present a clearer picture of health within the limited timeframe of a medical appointment.
It’s now or never
Healthcare services across the US are suffering at the hands of an aging population. Advancements in medicine, although welcome, are allowing individuals to live longer lives, which in turn, means that more people are calling upon the services of the healthcare sector — which has only been exacerbated by the hardships of the pandemic. Hospitals are operating well beyond their capacity and many clinicians are vastly overworked and unable to deal with the excess demand. It is time to transition to a stronger focus on preventative care. The ability to track, assess and alert individuals of the many early warning signs often missed will help us all stay home and stay healthier.
We now have the opportunity to create a technology that is accessible to all — irrespective of your medical understanding. If people can obtain actionable advice by simply scanning their face or fingertip with a smartphone, we are left with a population that can obtain an intrinsic understanding of their body using a device that’s owned by most people.
Transforming healthcare does not just have to happen in the hospital — it’s about what happens long before a hospital visit is required. Providing this level of accessible insight holds the key to a sustainable future for medicine and AI now, more than ever, is the glue that can bring all of this together. Better technology, better advice and better support — that’s the gold standard and it’s needed now.
Faramarz Farhoodi, founder of AI Nexus Healthcare, has more than three decades of experience in the field of AI, having led more than 1,000 person-years of AI application development across the defence, healthcare, manufacturing and finance industries – with his experience as diverse as helping to build NATO command and control systems to overseeing Amazon.com’s largest commercial account. With 80% of chronic disease being preventable and a global shortage of healthcare professionals, Faramarz and AI Nexus Healthcare are using a specialised AI skillset to transform healthcare systems, focusing on intervention and prevention.