“Artificial Intelligence would be the ultimate version of Google. The ultimate search engine that would understand everything on the Web. It would understand exactly what you wanted, and it would give you the right thing. We’re nowhere near doing that now. However, we can get incrementally closer to that, and that is basically what we work on.” -Larry Page
What is the impact of AI in the Healthcare Industry?
In this changing time with almost everything is accessible with the help of science and technology, it is assured to say that we are advancing the healthcare system. We are moving forward in transforming a better and wider options for medical treatment. Indeed, we are slowly bridging the gap and becoming bold in addressing pressing concerns on the healthcare delivery system.
The espousal of artificial intelligence in healthcare is on the rise and paving its way in solving different problems for patients. Let’s take a closer look at how AI is incrementally essential in solving challenges in healthcare access.
Merritt Hawkins, a healthcare consulting firm, conducted a survey to determine the average time for new patients have to wait to see a doctor in 15 metropolitan areas. The average wait time was over 18 days. For most Americans, it’s not easy to schedule an appointment and see a primary care physician or speak to one by phone. The shortage of doctors is the principle reason for patients having to wait longer days to be seen by a medical expert. This is according to Phillip Miller, vice president for communications at Merritt Hawkins and Staff Care. There’s a growing demand for doctors brought about by increasing population and a growing aging population but the number of trained physicians remained static over the years.
How is Artificial Intelligence helping the health providers?
The Association of American Medical Colleges is projecting a shortage of at least 45,000 primary care doctors in this country by 2020. Longer waiting time for first-time patients could be attributed to fewer doctors working full-time, which means they also see fewer patients. People with chronic diseases also require longer and frequent appointments, leaving the first-time patients with fewer options.
With these pressing concerns, we appreciate the value of artificial intelligence. Some years ago, we have apprehensions using it because of so many reasons like accuracy, and fear that it will replace doctors in treating patients. Doctors were initially worried of digital diagnosers and questioned how effective they were. Online symptom/ disease checkers can give an individual a list of possible cause for the symptoms presented. Sometimes, the result is spot on or it could lead one astray. Health information could mean the difference between life and death; therefore, a lot of individuals opt to search the web or use an AI app to check symptoms. It does make sense to patients especially to those who find it hard to set an appointment to see a physician. In many cases, health information is a good thing as part of the holistic approach and collaboration between patients and the healthcare team. The reservation comes from the fact that some resources available can be good or bad. The truth is, app developers and researchers work hard to improve the technology to suit human needs presenting more benefits than drawbacks. People should be very cautious in terms of interpreting the results they get from a symptom checker but that doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t use the tools at all. They are better than not getting any input at all, more so to those individuals with less access to a healthcare facility.
While the AI app is not an absolute substitute for seeing a physician, it can help people to decide how urgent their concerns are, and whether they should see a physician immediately or if they can wait a few days. Such initiative might also help to reduce the burden of over-treatment in the U.S. Healthcare System, by acting as a preliminary system to keep those who may not need medical attention out of hospitals and doctors’ offices and encourage those who need care to seek it right away. If people use an AI app before seeing a physician, they may already have an impression of what may be wrong with them and can research those conditions in order to have more focused queries ready for their doctor’s visit.
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