5 ways AI is improving healthcare post-COVID

Coronavirus

COVID-19 has highlighted the need for change in the healthcare industry. When the pandemic eventually subsides, medical systems will emerge with the knowledge of where they need to improve. AI in healthcare can and will address many of these issues.

Medical AI is nothing new, with 89 percent of healthcare executives reporting that AI is already helping them. Now that healthcare improvement is a more prominent issue, the adoption of this tech will only increase. The post-COVID medical world will rely on these technologies. Here are five ways healthcare organizations will use AI to improve after the pandemic.

1. Increasing Diagnosis Accuracy

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After COVID, the healthcare industry will have a renewed focus on improving the accuracy of diagnoses. AI can help with that, analyzing patient data and symptoms to make a preliminary diagnosis before doctors confirm it. These suggestions will help doctors make a more accurate determination faster, enabling better, more timely care.

AI in healthcare is already at a level where it can provide these services. A 2019 study found that an AI system could detect breast cancer as well or better than radiologists. While human doctors should always have the final say, that accuracy can help them find the right answer sooner.

2. Enabling Faster Care

As hospitals grew overcrowded and overworked during the pandemic, the need for faster care became evident. AI can speed the diagnostic and treatment process, but it doesn't stop there. Administrative work often slows things down, but it's also a task for which AI is uniquely qualified.

AI is typically far more efficient than people with data-heavy, repetitive work. Post-COVID healthcare centers will likely implement AI in their administrative systems to streamline these processes. By automating tasks like filing and registration, hospitals can get patients the help they need faster.

3. Monitoring Patient Conditions

Getting timely medical assistance to a developing situation will be crucial in the post-COVID world. Given their workloads, medical staff can't stand by to monitor patients continuously, but AI can. AI systems can watch patient conditions and alert doctors and nurses if they predict an oncoming emergency.

The Duke Institute for Health Innovation created an AI system called Sepsis Watch to do just that. It identifies if patients develop a risk of sepsis so doctors can work to avoid the condition. That way, they can prevent any complications from arising in someone's treatment.

4. Reducing Healthcare Costs

Since AI in healthcare streamlines many processes, it leads to cost reduction. Affordability is a needed improvement for the post-COVID landscape in light of widespread economic difficulty. Both patients and medical staff can benefit from the cost savings of AI.

In addition to enabling faster and more effective care, AI can increase savings through data analytics. These tools can help hospitals retain up to $11 million by reducing total care costs. Like any other business, hospitals can use AI to find and address inefficiencies, leading to lower spending.

5. Improving Medical Research

Not all healthcare improvements from AI happen inside hospitals. AI systems can also give medical researchers helpful tools for understanding developing diseases. These programs accurately predicted COVID-19 peaks, bringing new attention to their efficacy and utility.

After the pandemic fades, AI will likely play a more significant role in monitoring global diseases. Similarly, it can help doctors in predicting what treatments may be effective against a given condition. Medical research, as a whole, will improve from the increased implementation of AI.

AI in Healthcare Can Save Lives and Reduce Costs

AI has been instrumental in healthcare during the pandemic, so it will become more so afterward.

With additional research and advancement, these tools are on track to be effective at diagnosing and treating patients, as well as reducing inefficiencies. The post-COVID healthcare industry will be safer and more affordable as a result.

Image credit: lightsource / depositphotos

Devin Partida writes about AI, apps and technology at ReHack.com, where she is Editor-in-Chief

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