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AI in Medicine

We watched a lot of Sci-Fi movies that show us how these cute and smart robots can do almost everything for us or those ugly and powerful machines come to destroy our world. We believe that we will see more and more of those smart machines and they will become part of our life regardless we like it or not.

People seem to talk about AI and machine learning everywhere and every day but what does AI really mean. What makes a machine smart? What are the applications of AI in medicine currently? Is AI here to replace our doctors?

Before, we dive deep. Let us clarify:

What is AI?

Learning is act or process of gaining knowledge or skill by studying and practicing. Knowledge can be taught or gained through experience. The babies learn by observing their surrounding using their senses, trying out one step at a time, receiving positive or negative feedback from their parents or caregivers; then adjust their behaviors accordingly. Students learn by studying the basic concepts, comprehend the relationships between the concepts, remembering the rules; at the end, they are able to grasp all the knowledge that was presented to them. A smart student has a sound logic. He/she is not only able to solve the problem that the teacher has previously demonstrated, but he/she can solve the problems that are new.

By the same token, machine learning means that the machine/ computer program reviews its past experiences and use those data to inform future actions. Artificial Intelligent or Machine Intelligent means that machine/device can accept information from its surroundings, generates a list of actions that maximize its chance of success toward some goals.

Before we apply AI in medicine, we need to know:

What makes health care different than other industrials?

1. Based on Deep and Fresh Knowledge

The human body is one complex and precise system which is a combination of different functional systems work independently but connect seamlessly and work together for our survival and reproduction.

Today, we have made significant progress in medicine, yet we have still not fully understanding our own body. Scientists and medical professionals are still trying to understand how human body structure works, how human interacts with the environment and society. Discovery of the causes, preventions and treatments of the diseases and the healing of the body is a continuing journey for humanity. New drugs are coming to market every year. As of 11/16/2017, FDA approved 40 new drugs in 2017. These new discoveries impact day to day medical operation and practice. To practice medicine successfully, they not only need to tap into their vast knowledge from previous training but also needs to absorb the new discoveries and new treatment methods.

2. Critical Decision Making is Key

Medical practice required medical professionals make critical decisions based on known information and make the judgment call on unknown. Medication can treat one condition; it might hurt the rest or other parts of the body. Most of the time, doctors need to balance the risk and benefit of medicine. A medical decision required not only required to be precise, but it also needs to make it timely as the patient situation can change very dramatically.

3. Heavy users of the health care are those could not afford it

Everyone use healthcare services at some points in life. However, studies show a smaller portion of the population consumes the high share of healthcare resource. In a report released by the Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network in Ontario stated, in 2007, the top 5% of health care users accounted for 58% of health expenditure which required complex, resource-intensive care. Studies also find this population was more likely to have multiple chronic illnesses, serious psychological illnesses and addiction, come from disadvantaged population groups, unemployed, and have limited social support. Different than other industry, the top users of healthcare consume most of the resources but are those not able to share the cost of the care.

4. Medicine is the combination of Science and Art

Medical practice is science, and it is also art. More and more study shows how medical services are delivered directly impact the outcome of treatment. To heal a person, we need to treat the whole person instead of just the medical conditions. Healthcare is highly regulated, physicians need to follow the strict processes and procedures, but they also demanded to be creative and innovated when dealing with the unknown or exceptional cases.

5. Health Care is Personal and Populational

Each one of us is unique so does the disease in us. Healthcare and disease prevention and treatment need to be at the personal level. However, the human is made to be social. The health condition of one individual can impact the people around. Sometimes a modification of social behavior can bring change to the health condition of the community. Our health condition is also affected by our environment. Public health and environmental health can make a significant impact on healthcare.

After understanding the uniqueness of healthcare, you might feel that there is a lot of things AI can help in the field of medicine. Now let us look at the some of the current use of AI in medicine.

Use Cases of AI in Medicine

1. AI in image analysis in pathology

To assessing the severity/grade of cancer, pathologists currently use a microscope to exam cross-sections of tumor tissue slides. The severity or grade are based on cell size and shapes of the tissue. Stanford researchers used images on the national database to train computer software program were identify nearly 10,000 individual traits versus the several hundred by the pathologists. The result shows that in two types of lung cancer the machine learning approach is better than the standard pathologist approach. Google also use deep learning approach to detect the localization of breast cancer. The prediction heat maps produced by algorithm reach 89% verse 73% by a pathologist.

2. AI in precision medicine

The field of precision medicine is continuing to grow. As the cost of gene sequencing is reducing, the new understanding of cancer and new cancer drug discovery are evolving. IBM Watson helps the researcher identify new drug target and new indications for existing drugs. It can also use its cognitive computing create the unbiased insight of treatment options including new FDA approved drugs and clinical trials based on the patient genomic profile.

3. AI in care management optimization

Using AI to identify high-risk population and use data analysis to optimize continuity of care. IBM Watson Care Manager create individualized care plans and recommend the optimal combination of structured programs, best practices and personalized insights for physicals and care team to better manage and deliver high quality care the population.

Deep Learning, artificial intelligence algorithms continue to show promise in performing some medical works that were only capable of being done by human physicians in the past. AI will good in delivering precision data analysis, image recognition, health process optimization and population health monitoring. With the help of AI, we can reduce some of the workloads from physicians. However, human doctors will still be the one to make the critical decision on complex medical situations. They can practice medicine with empathy and compassion that no algorithms are able to calculate.




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