Journal of mHealth, October 2022 Click to view
By Faramarz Farhoodi, CEO of AI Nexus Healthcare
Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be a daunting term and one that has seen immense innovation since the 1960s. It’s a term we are all familiar with, yet probably have no idea how many times we encounter it on a daily basis.
The relationship between technology and healthcare is growing rapidly, with an abundance of hardware available that collects masses of biodata and provides consumers with a user-friendly insight into the functions of their body. You may go for a run and monitor the evolutions in heart rate per kilometre, or you may like to monitor your sleep throughout the week.
But what if accessible digital health technology was capable of providing accurate and actionable advice deciphered from something as accessible as your smartphone?
This is where AI has the ability to transform health technology from simply providing remote monitoring, to emulating the diagnostic approach of a clinician and potentially saving lives. With 80% of chronic diseases being preventable, and a global healthcare system that is operating well over capacity, the world is in need of innovative solutions — and AI holds the answer.
Prevention over cure
Almost all diseases develop over a cycle, with each stage providing antecedent signals that often present themselves within vital sign measurements. If the average consumer was able to regularly check their key health signals such as blood oxygen levels, heart rate variability and sleep patterns, this would provide a pretty comprehensive outline of their current health. However, to most people, these stats and figures would present themselves with very little meaning — yet they could represent a bigger picture.
This is where, through a combination of complex neural networks and Cognitive AI, data can be monitored and potential causes for concern flagged. It could be disrupted sleep, or low blood oxygen levels — whatever the anomaly in data, this could represent a health issue in the early stages of the disease cycle. AI therefore has the potential to transform healthcare systems from “Sick Care” to “Health Care” by enabling early intervention and the prevention of chronic diseases. This will help eliminate the need for medical intervention further down the line and reduce the strain on healthcare providers who are already struggling to cope with the current demand.
Is it time to evolve our employment of AI?
For too long, AI developers have been centred around machine learning, which essentially teaches computers to learn from experience and does so by applying algorithms to huge collections of data. Tech companies across the world have been trying to code doctors out and replace them with machine learning algorithms, which fails to address the need for reasoning within medical practice. Doctors and clinicians are among the most qualified people in the world and to believe we can replace this with machine learning algorithms does not represent a sustainable or suitable solution for the current healthcare crisis. Instead, this technology is merely imitating human intelligence with a complete absence of cognition and is attempting to view the human body as an algorithm.
This represents a failure to exploit the full potential of AI and created the need for innovation that builds preventative care solutions that cater to every individual — irrespective of their age, medical history, family medical history and lifestyle.
So what’s the solution?
The most common point for intervention comes way beyond the baseline risk, earliest molecular detection and earliest clinical detection. Instead, people seek medical help at the latter stages of the disease cycle, which naturally incurs a higher disease burden, higher costs and the reduced prospect of reversibility.
The primary focus should be on prevention and to achieve this it is necessary not only to gather the data but also to make sense of that data and to generate personalised actionable advice for each individual. Centralising this technology in an accessible format is the first key step to making a real difference. If a consumer can obtain health data by simply scanning their face or fingertip using a smartphone, and for this data to be stored and interpreted in real time, would transform people’s understanding of their own body. What you are creating is essentially a “check engine” light for the human body — which is supplemented by actionable advice on when to seek medical help.
With this full picture of physical and mental health, individuals will only call upon medical professionals when they really need them and this interaction will likely require far less resources than if it was left until a later date. If this is achieved, consumers will genuinely have “good health in the palm of their hand”.
What does the future hold?
Ageing populations are growing exponentially and the demand for healthcare is growing simultaneously. If a true era of ‘smart care’ is to be achieved, a new form of AI is needed. One that can emulate the cognition of a clinician, and present itself in people’s lives in a way that is digestible, affordable and accurate. At AI Nexus Healthcare, we describe this as ‘hybrid AI’ — combining the revolutionary capabilities of AI with the agency and intelligence of medical professionals. The world has never been more in need of innovative digital solutions and this represents one that could make a genuine difference and redirect the capabilities of AI towards providing a supplementary tool that fulfils the needs of the industry.
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.