The Social Impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on Healthcare

Artificial intelligence (AI) is set to make a significant social impact on the healthcare industry thanks to its ability to provide ongoing support to overwhelmed medical practitioners and practices.

In a recent analysis of how AI is having an impact on society and bioethics, the researchers point to how AI and the technology that surrounds the emergence of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is set to change how society, business and sector works and lives. This is not a future where AI dominates the world, where the science fiction futures postulated by famous writers suddenly appear, fully formed on the desk. It is, rather, a future where AI provides medical practitioners with essential support and tools that mitigate complexity, streamline workflows, and transform work volumes.

The truth is that technology and innovation have already had a significant social impact. As the article mentioned above points out, “up-to-date, AI is breaking into healthcare industry too by assisting doctors to diagnose, finding the sources of diseases, suggesting various ways of treatment, performing surgery, and predicting if the illness is life threatening.” These are all incredibly invaluable boxes that most practitioners want to tick.

AI is very unlikely to replace people any time soon. But it is adding that extra pair of eyes and hands to the medical repertoire that can’t come soon enough. Currently, the medical community is under immense pressure to meet growing patient demands, the complexities of a global pandemic, and the challenges of increasingly convoluted admin and compliance regulation. Workloads today are far heavier than those in the past, particularly as practitioners juggle copious paperwork as part of their daily routines. It’s limiting their access to patient care, minimizing the impact they can potentially have in their career – and this is where AI can really step in and make a difference. Here, the social impact of artificial intelligence can be felt in the lowered admin burden and streamlined workflow management. 

The Social Impact of Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare

AI is intelligent enough to provide robust and trusted support to healthcare practitioners battling complex workloads and increasing patient loads. It is an intelligent tool that can be customized to deliver specific support, easily integrated into existing systems, and leveraged to reduce operational complexity. 

There are several immediate ways in which the social impact of artificial intelligence can be felt in healthcare: 

  • Practitioner wellbeing and support – the hard reality of medical care today is that it’s busy, demanding, stressful and often overwhelming. Practitioners are under constant pressure to deliver exceptional care while juggling exceptional workloads. They are tired and overworked. AI systems have been developed to minimize errors caused by exhaustion. AI never sleeps. It never stops analyzing the data and interrogating the images. It is the pair of eyes that never shuts, that can offer the medical profession an extra safety net that supports their workloads and daily lives more efficiently. 
  • Rapid diagnosis and urgent detection – AI has become increasingly sophisticated across multiple use cases, particularly in stroke detection. Here, the ability of algorithms to speed time to treatment, or to highlight areas of potential risk to physicians, can mean all the difference when it comes to patient outcomes. Here, the social impact of artificial intelligence in healthcare is extraordinary – a patient may have immediate, life-saving treatment prior to a stroke taking full effect, or at a speed that mitigates the full impact of the stroke, and thereby experience a radically different quality of life. 
  • Improved radiology capabilities – solutions such as Aidoc have been on the market for long enough to prove their value when it comes to providing radiologists with essential support. Designed to streamline workflows, consistently monitor staggering imaging volumes, and to notify practitioners of potential patient problems, these AI solutions are gaining global momentum thanks to their proven value add.  

The journey of AI through healthcare

AI is not just being used in highly complex and challenging medical implementations and situations. The technology has applications throughout the healthcare lifecycle, and can be used to fundamentally shift how patients and practitioners engage with one another, and their health. 

For the patient, the social impact of artificial intelligence on their healthcare lies in the evolution of wearable devices, and other similar intelligent solutions that interconnect with medical facilities and practitioner systems. Wearables are an intelligent step towards the monitoring of health events, and managing the responses to these events. AI currently has applications in multiple wearable solutions, and can also be used to monitor physiological responses outside of the hospital. This makes rapid detection and response far more accessible for both practitioner and patient, and can significantly improve outcomes. 

For the practitioner, the social impact of artificial intelligence in healthcare doesn’t just lie in improved tools, more support and faster response times, but also in improved wellness and wellbeing. Most physicians entered the sector to provide patient care and have been derailed by systems, challenges, volumes and complex regulations. This has contributed significantly to burn out and to many leaving the sector entirely. AI opens up new ways of managing these complexities and minimizing these pressures, and can contribute to reducing physician burnout. 

Finally, AI has an impact that extends beyond the expected and into a vibrant and exciting future. Already solutions such as Aidoc have redefined the boundaries of how AI can support and engage with the medical profession, and more ideas and innovations continue to enter the market. Stroke detection, PE detection, brain hemorrhage, cardiovascular conditions, laboratory research, and many other applications, all benefit from what AI can already do today. Tomorrow, who knows…

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