The integration of AI in the healthcare industry could yield remarkable savings for the United States, projected at a staggering US$360 billion. This insight emerged in a report by researchers from McKinsey and Harvard. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are revolutionising medical devices, drug development, diagnosis and treatment. By automating tasks, they complement healthcare practitioners’ work, promising to advance decision-making, cut costs and enhance the patient experience.
AI-powered medical devices
In 2022, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorised 91 medical devices equipped with AI or ML capabilities. This category covers important algorithms and sophisticated machine-learning tools. One such example is an atrial fibrillation history feature incorporated into the Apple Watch. Another tool designed by Aidoc, a radiology AI company, received FDA clearance for its AI-powered feature, designed to detect collapsed lungs on X-ray images. This streamlines the diagnostic process and allows physicians to prioritise critical images.
AI-generated digital biomarkers
The fusion of physiological data with lifestyle and environmental factors is paving the way for deep phenotyping. Coupled with genomics, this is set to take healthcare to new heights. Bloomer Tech is combining cutting-edge fabric technology with ML to transform clothes, for example, women's bras, into wearable medical devices. AI's role in generating digital biomarkers promises transformative impacts, especially for diseases that disproportionately affect women. Bloomer Tech’s focus lies in the cardiovascular system in women, given the challenges in diagnostics and treatment. The company aims to shift from limited biomarkers analysed in labs to AI-driven insights taken from clothing. This shift could revolutionise healthcare by enabling proactive and pre-emptive care.
AI in clinical decision support
AI-based Clinical Decision Support Software (CDSS) is another innovation with the potential to transform patient care by analysing historical, current and incoming patient data. The software can identify safety concerns, errors and spot opportunities for enhancing care pathways. AI CDSS could improve the diagnosis, treatment and prognosis of specific medical conditions. The FDA issued new guidance stating certain AI tools should be regulated as medical devices, in particular those predicting sepsis, patient deterioration, and heart failure. This change reflects the growing use of AI and ML, which can improve performance through learning from experience.
Drug development revolutionised by AI
AI can accelerate the development of new drugs and the technology is reshaping the process, driving significant improvements. Drug development takes 12 to 18 years, costing US$2 to US$3 billion, with only 10 per cent approval. AI can speed up R&D, cut costs and boost the chances of drug approval. COVID-19 accelerated AI adoption in drug discovery, a turning point for the pharmaceutical industry. In February 2020, Eli Lilly's Olumiant was identified by UK-based start-up BenevolentAI as a potential COVID-19 treatment, receiving FDA Emergency Use Authorisation in just three days.
AI's impact on value-based care
Integrating AI into value-based care models is another ground-breaking innovation. AI has enormous potential for enhancing operational efficiency and patient outcomes, creating shared savings opportunities. The healthcare sector is realising the advantages of using AI to analyse health trends and deliver superior, value-based care. David Friede, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships for the DrOwl app, highlights one example where AI creates a digital twin of a patient, enabling the exploration of treatments and outcomes. This approach enhances the patient journey and overall healthcare experience.
As these AI-powered advancements unfold, the influence of AI in healthcare is nothing short of revolutionary. Advancements promise to reshape healthcare, enabling a future where innovation, precision and patient-centric care are paramount. AI is expected to strengthen, not replace, human judgement leading to quicker, more informed decisions, lower costs, and ultimately enhanced patient care.
This article appears in the latest issue of the Omnia Health Magazine, read more here