In the last couple of decades, our society has been exposed exponentially to the idea of robots and intelligent machines on celluloid and literature. Movies like Wall-E and Terminator have both delighted and petrified audiences and laid the foundations of the dichotomy of emotions we have towards a parallel universe of living with advanced machines.
Today, AI is no longer scientific fiction or a figment of our imagination but a reality where we are increasingly inclined to integrating it into our daily lives and debating both sides of the spectrum of this inevitable leap of human progress. Technological advances are already in the process of subverting the fabric of our society as we know it, and, the field of medicine is at the front-line of this revolution.
According to a recent study carried out by Infosys, 40% of companies in the pharmaceutical and life sciences sectors have already deployed AI technologies and are satisfied with their operation. The advent of artificial intelligence in medical science is poised to revolutionize health care in a way never seen before.
Over the centuries, evolving human intelligence leading to the advancement of technological tools has shaped the medical field. Today, the immense capabilities we have in data analytics, management and sharing of medical results enables accelerated treatment and advancement on specific cases. With AI technology, the possibilities are limitless. Liberating us from repetitive time-consuming tasks, machines will give man the opportunity to realize new discoveries and further augment human evolution.
AI SIMPLIFIES COMPLEX MEDICAL CASES
It may seem that the technical advantage of a robot sometimes outweighs those of traditional healthcare with regards to diagnosis and treatment. In a study published by Science Translational Medicine in May 2016, pediatric surgeon Peter Kim states that the Children’s National Health system robot committed fewer errors than a human doctor for a minor bowel surgery procedure. He also states that the stitches performed by the robot were of superior quality.
But, the moot point is not only technical here. The advantages of AI go beyond and unveil a much more personalized aspect of medicine. At the Necker hospital for children in Paris, for example, a teenager suffering from a DNA deficiency which caused hematological disorders has benefitted from a genetic modification of bone composition and restructure, powered by AI. This specific operation cured all the other related disorders.
AN END OF PRESCRIBED CARE AND DOCTORS?
The exceptional abilities of AI cannot guarantee a systematic cure of all diseases and will not aim to replace doctors. However, they will advance medicine in an exceptional way and help to better understand certain diseases and make quicker diagnosis and lead to simplification of the life cycle of patients on several levels.
With Deep Learning and Machine Learning growing, artificial intelligence is processing a huge amount of existing data. Surgeons will soon be able to refer to the best medical practices used in rare cases from around the world. These innovations will help to reduce the costs involved with time spent on searching for solutions that can take years or even decades, helping millions of patients to have a timely treatment.
The French company, DBV Technologies, has recently developed a solution to reduce allergic reactions related to nuts. It allows the patient to consume the product without directly ingesting it and in some cases, the allergy gradually diminishes, proving that machine learning makes it possible to know more about the mechanisms of the human body. Machine learning can also detect early warning signs of certain diseases.
TO WHAT EXTENT CAN THIS TECHNOLOGICAL PROWESS HELP?
With increasing urbanization, certain territories become veritable medical deserts and public services struggle to curb the spread of diseases and find an effective solution. The use of AI, could, however, make it possible to carry out diagnosis in order to alleviate patients more quickly and reduce related fear and stigma. Let’s be clear- a robot cannot replace a real doctor. Empathy and human contact are a paramount necessity. But, where benign diseases clog medical practices, performing a check-up using a machine could reduce waiting times and speed up treatment.
BETTER CARE THROUGH BETTER KNOWLEDGE OF OUR BODIES
A Belgian company called Scanadu has created a robot detector called ‘Scanadu Scout’, a scanner for performing physical examinations, collecting and storing information, based on the measurement of temperature, heart rate and blood pressure which can be monitored on a smartphone app. It is a simple technology that allows to better monitor the metabolism of the body. Its use makes it easy to balance one’s diet, physical activity and see how the body is reacting to these changes at the click of a button.
But, AI doesn’t only serve to simplify the life of some or improve medical operations, it can save lives. Early detection of melanoma before it spreads to the lymph nodes, for example, can increase the survival rate to 98% in people suffering from this lethal skin cancer, from the current 16%.
From the first smartphone in 2007 to the first AI that managed to beat a human in a game of ‘Go’, only 10 years have passed. The rapid advancement of technology is unprecedented and the next 10 years will be crucial. AI will amplify and unleash human potential. AI, is a product of human ingenuity and the creation can never be greater than the creator.
Managing Partner, Infosys Consulting
Monika Orlowska is a managing partner at Infosys Consulting and heads the firm’s Enterprise Finance practice in Europe with strong expertise in finance transformation programs. She has 20+ years of industry experience, having handled advisory work for some of the biggest firms in this space. Monika can be contacted via LinkedIn or Monika _Orlowska@infosys.com