In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare organizations are increasing their investment in artificial intelligence (AI). AI is helping healthcare providers during the pandemic to monitor spread of the illness, determining when hospitals will need PPE, and streamlining vaccine development and distribution.
In a Deloitte survey, nearly 3 in 4 healthcare organizations said they expect to increase investments for AI in an effort to make processes more efficient. In fact, it’s predicted that AI will grow in the following areas over the next two years:
- Patient care
- Process automation
In a three-part series, we’re going to dive into how artificial intelligence is helping healthcare providers. We’ll explore how AI is building efficiencies in diagnostics, enhancing patient care, streamlining processes, and expanding telemedicine – which is what we’re exploring today.
Expanding Access & Telemedicine
The recent worldwide pandemic shone a light on a gaping hole in many countries’ healthcare systems: the lack of trained healthcare providers.
Healthcare is often synonymous with the word “doctor”. It isn’t just doctors and nurses that are lacking in many parts of the world. There’s also a need for ultrasound techs, radiologists, phlebotomists, and more. There is a shortage of all healthcare professionals in many pockets of the world.
AI, when combined with telemedicine/telehealth, has the potential to help lessen the impact of the healthcare worker deficit in underserved regions. In an article from healthanalytics.com, Jayashree Kalpathy-Cramer, PhD, Assistant in Neuroscience at MGH and Associate Professor of Radiology at HMS touts the technology. “The potential for this tech to increase access to healthcare is tremendous,” she said.
For example, AI enhancing imaging tools can screen chest x-rays for signs and displays accuracy comparable to humans. It also reduces the need for a trained diagnostic radiologist on site. AI’s ability to be deployed via an app also reduces cost. Even now, telehealth tools are popping up in homes of patients to help treat illness and reduce hospital admissions. Tools reporting diagnostic information for high-risk individuals is helping with early detection and treatment of illnesses like stroke and heart attack, while reducing costs.
But it’s not just physical illnesses that can benefit from the use of AI. Mental health conditions impact millions of people each year according to the National Institutes of Mental Health. But there are barriers to treatment for many people. A shortage of clinicians, spaced out care, and social stigma for treatment, are just a few.
It’s estimated that 31 percent of U.S. adults 18+ experience an anxiety related disorder at some point in their lives. Nearly 32 percent of children also experience anxiety. In 2020, researchers at the University of Illinois Chicago launched the first phase of a five year project, an AI powered virtual agent called Lumen. The researchers behind Lumen hope to increase mental healthcare access for people with moderate depression and anxiety.
Jun Ma, PhD, Beth and George Vitoux Professor of Medicine at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) department of medicine explained the advantages of AI in mental health treatment to HealthITAnalytics. “One of the main advantages of using AI as a platform to provide therapy is the ability to scale and reduce significant barriers to access, as well as sustainability of proven psychotherapy such as problem-solving treatment,” said Ma.
Ready to dive into telemedicine?
We have several telemedicine opportunities available, both full-time or part-time (no need to quit your day/night job!). Whether you’re in Family, Emergency, or Internal Medicine or providing specialty consultations in Neurology, Cardiology, and Medical Oncology, let us help you find your next big telemedicine opportunity. Not only do you set your own schedule. You also get the benefit of telehealth training opportunities, guaranteed payment for reach consultation, and paid professional liability insurance.