In recent years, artificial intelligence has proven it’s capable of changing and improving our lives. In the coming years, AI is expected to streamline processes across a wide range of industries, particularly healthcare A recent Accenture report found that AI may be able to generate as much as $150 billion in annual savings for the healthcare industry by 2026.
According to Accenture’s findings, robot-assisted surgery and virtual nursing assistants stand to yield the greatest savings. In fact, approximately one in four U.S. hospitals already uses the surgery assistance robot called da Vinci to some degree. By 2015, the robots had performed nearly half a million annual operations.
The concept of a robot performing surgery used to be a scene in a science-fiction movie, but not anymore. In fact, the technology already exists. Consider the feats of the Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot, or STAR.
In one study, researchers programmed the robot to perform a procedure in which a pig’s intestines are stitched back together after being cut through during an operation. While STAR required minor human guidance during some of the trials, most of the time it successfully performed the procedure on its own.
Perhaps more striking is the fact that the robot’s stitches were generally less prone to leaks than those made by human hands. While it may be some time before robots replace surgeons, this proof of concept indicates that they could play a very important role assisting physicians in the near future.
Another healthcare AI technology providing surgery assistance is the da Vinci robot. It has already leant its precision to over 3 million surgeries. It continues to improve the patient and doctor experience by offering greater dexterity than a human hand, and therefore make procedures safer and even less invasive.
Experts are quick to point out that da Vinci and similar AI technologies in healthcare haven’t reached the point where they can think and solve decisions like a human surgeon. However, they can help surgeons perform delicate moves with much greater accuracy and safety than ever before.
Researchers predict that future iterations of these robots will also help physicians interpret what they see when looking inside a patient. This will significantly decrease the amount of time it takes to make treatment decisions.
Virtual Nursing Assistants
Robots that perform delicate procedures may be impressive, but don’t show off the full potential of AI in healthcare. AI offers the most impressive benefits when it has the ability to learn.
That’s why people working in the healthcare industry, especially nurses, should take note of a recent experiment involving a robotic surgical assistant. By uploading pictures of basic arm movements and having human participants guide a robotic arm, the robot was able to learn how to perform those movements independently.
Utilizing a healthcare AI bot for the purpose of handing a nurse or doctor a needed instrument may not seem that useful, but there are many instances in which it can significantly improve and streamline treatment. Understaffed hospitals could use robots to offer assistance when not enough nurses are available. Unlike humans, who can get tired during long procedures, a robot will be able to help for hours on end without making errors.
The Savings Are Endless
AI for healthcare can also help diagnose patients. This will save physicians a lot of time because instead of scheduling an appointment, patients can remotely provide an AI assistant with a list of their symptoms. The AI won’t just relay this information to the physician, it will also help interpret the findings to offer a probable diagnosis.
Keep in mind that these are just two general applications for AI in healthcare. Artificial intelligence is also likely to boost savings in the healthcare industry by offering administrative workflow assistance and fraud detection.
Together, all these applications save hospitals, physicians, and patients a significant amount of time and money. They boost the efficiency of every aspect of the healthcare process, from diagnosis to surgery, and in the meantime also help to conserve resources.