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AI for Healthcare

Understanding the Benefits of AI

The adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) continues to increase, and it’s anticipated that the global AI market will be valued at over $190 billion by 2025. As this growing market continues to flourish, so do both the benefits of AI. 

First introduced back in the 1950s, AI has evolved tremendously over the past 65 years. While initially it was used in more technical settings, like specialized computer labs, adoption has grown to the point where AI is integrated in our everyday lives. 

With AI becoming part of how we work and live, it’s important to understand how it will be used in our day-to-day lives and how you can make an impact in the industry.

Refresher: What is Artificial Intelligence?

We first explored the definition of artificial intelligence in our post titled, “What is Artificial Intelligence.” AI can be summed up by the following statement: The primary purpose of AI is to create machines that have the ability to demonstrate intelligent behavior that can think, learn, and behave like humans.

The roots of AI incorporate computer science, biology, psychology, math, and engineering. AI advances computer functions associated with human intelligence, including problem-solving, learning, and reasoning.

One of the widest reaching benefits of AI is the vital role it’s playing in the healthcare field. AI offers the opportunity for increased efficiency and accuracy with both diagnosis and treatment. 

While it won’t replace the need for doctors, it can greatly enhance their training and provide additional tools that help create better experiences and outcomes for their patients.

For example, in the AI for Healthcare Virtual Conference, speaker Andjela Azabagic discussed how in the field of breast cancer research and screening, risk modeling is based on factors like family history, genetics, and lifestyle. 

With AI, the existing technology used for mammograms can be mined to create a risk adaptive screening model that relies more on the actual images to make predictions. 

While someone may not be considered high risk based on the data they provide, the mammogram may tell a different story. 

These risk adaptive screening models have the potential to identify at-risk patients sooner, and then a proactive medical plan can be put in place to actively monitor patients so any occurrences can be caught, diagnosed, and treated more quickly — increasing the chances of a more positive long-term outcome. 

AI has become more and more mainstream, powering our day-to-day lives with everything from Google Home and Amazon Echo to handwriting recognition with 

The MyScript Nebo app to real-time translation with Skype Translator. 

Benefits of AI

AI has a lot to offer whether it’s in the workplace or at home. However, for many people, the numerous benefits of AI aren’t always obvious. It’s easy to see the dangers of AI as they’re discussed more often, but here are a few specific benefits. 

#1. Decreased Errors

Human error is a major concern, especially in industries like healthcare. Known for accuracy and precision, AI can virtually eliminate common errors. Unlike humans, who always have the potential for their decisions to be impacted by external emotional factors, AI functions the same way, every time, regardless of the circumstances. 

#2. Better Productivity and Efficiency

Machines have something humans don’t  — the ability to run 24/7, 365 days a year. Humans suffer from exhaustion, burnout and stress, but with AI technology performing a task, it can be completed consistently without interruption or distraction. While one of the dangers of AI is that machines don’t have emotions, AI
can easily handle repetitive tasks that can be time consuming for a human, often at a faster pace.

#3. Increased Accessibility

When it comes to things like going to space, or exploring certain geographical locations, humans simply can’t get everywhere. One of the key benefits of AI is how human exploration isn’t limited by things like extreme temperatures or the ability to get to remote areas. Sending in a resilient AI machine to do the work allows for the gathering of important data. 

#4. Simplifying Day-to-Day Life

With an estimate of over 3.25 billion people worldwide using digital voice assistants, it’s easy to see how AI has integrated into our day-to-day lives. For example, Smartphones are also highly integrated with AI technology, with people relying on GPS navigation, face recognition and their camera, all within their phones. Also, AI has become part of how we play on a daily basis as we use social media, music streaming services, drones and video games.

#5. Improved Medical Assessments and Outcomes

The field of healthcare has many applications for AI, and is frequently used for identifying things like neurological diseases and potential cancer risks. Surgeons can be trained with simulators, patients can wear AI-powered monitors to help gather data for diagnosis and researchers can quickly analyze data to further treatments in the field. AI is improving the lives of patients with these advancements. 

How Humans Enhance AI

Yes there are many benefits of AI, however, human capabilities — like moral reasoning — can help enhance the technology.

While machines can be built to mimic much of the human condition, they have no emotions. 

That means they can’t make any judgements on right or wrong, and don’t have morals or values. 

While decisions that are data-driven may be more straightforward, ones that rely on nuances, like how someone may be feeling on a particular day, are completely lost with AI. That’s what makes the combination of AI plus humans so powerful.

Augmented AI — referenced by Matthew Versaggi during his keynote at the AI for Healthcare Virtual Conference — is a tool that acts to assist human decision-making rather than supplant it can be a powerful tool in this regard. 

Referring to this technology as augmented is a conscious choice on the part of many AI developers, as for some of the general public there’s an association that the purpose of artificial intelligence is to completely replace humans — which is certainly not the case. 

For example, a doctor performing a surgery is going to sometimes need to make a split second decision when things don’t go according to plan. 

So while AI technology can help provide complex equipment to perform a surgery that may have previously been much more difficult to do, it can’t replace the doctor’s ability to come up with a reasoned solution in the moment. Both the human and the AI technology work together to create a desirable outcome. 

Making an Impact with a Career in AI

The benefits of AI impact us both personally and professionally — whether it’s making simple tasks at home easier, creating better outcomes for medical patients, or improving operational efficiency in the workplace.

This potential makes the field of AI particularly appealing to those who want to establish a career in a growing, vibrant industry that’s rich with career opportunities. 

Looking to pursue an education that will equip you for a career in the fields of both healthcare and AI? 

The Udacity AI for Healthcare Nanodegree gives you the skills you’ll need to apply the foundations of AI in a healthcare setting. 

In this program you’ll receive hands on experience building, evaluating and integrating predictive models, classifying and segmenting 2D and 3D medical images, modeling patient outcomes with electronic health records and building an algorithm that uses data collected from wearable devices. 

Enroll today for the Udacity AI for Healthcare Nanodegree