That’s certainly true in healthcare, as shown by Dr. Paul Weber, associate dean for continuing medical education at Rutgers’s Robert Wood Johnson and New Jersey medical schools, during a presentation on the present and future clinical applications of AI.
Dr. Weber pointed to several areas where he has seen AI transform the field of healthcare including diagnosis and treatment recommendations, patient communication and care coordination.
“We’re able to train machines to exhibit humanlike intelligence and apply that in a clinical setting. We haven’t achieved human intelligence, but we’re getting close to it,” he said.
Clinical Applications of AI Today and in the Future
There are numerous applications of AI on the market today or awaiting approval that can improve patient care and potentially save lives.
Those applications involve pattern recognition, robotics and natural language processing, which includes speech recognition and translation. Machine learning, a “technique that trains software algorithms to learn from and act upon new data to continuously improve performance,” is also increasingly used today, Dr. Weber said.
He gave a few examples of the latest tools that leverage AI and its subsets to augment various areas of medicine and healthcare, such as:
- Virtual assistants: This AI-driven technology can help people with Alzheimer’s disease with their daily activities, Dr. Weber said. For example, 59-year-old Brian Leblanc, who was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease in 2014, started using Alexa on his Amazon Echo Dot for reminders to eat, bathe and take medication. “What it enables him to do is to have more control over his life,” Dr. Weber said.
- MelaFind: This technology uses infrared light to evaluate pigmented lesions. Using algorithms, dermatologists can analyze irregular moles and diagnose serious skin cancers such as melanoma. Although this technology should not replace a biopsy, it helps with giving an early identification, Dr. Weber said.
- Robotic assisted therapy: Bionik Laboratories in Toronto and Watertown, Mass., use robotics and AI to assist patients in their stroke recovery. A robotic arm and hand use digital algorithms to detect motions that patients can’t execute during therapy and guides them through it. Dr. Weber noted that it can help patients perform more recorded movements per hour than they would have if working with a physical therapist alone.
- Caption Guidance: The Food and Drug Administration just approved this AI-powered software, which can help medical professionals capture, without any specialized training, echocardiographic images of a patient’s heart that are of acceptable diagnostic quality, Dr. Weber said. Machine learning trains the software to spot high-quality 2D ultrasound images of the heart and even record video clips of it, changing the way heart disease is diagnosed.