How AI Augments Telehealth

Artificial intelligence (AI) has succeeded in making Alexa more helpful and Watson a better Jeopardy!contestant, but that’s just the beginning. AI is rapidly transforming healthcare in a variety of ways. In a recent survey of 56 leading healthcare organizations, Tata Consultancy Services found that 86% of them have already adopted AI – and plan to spend an average of $54 million on it by 2020.

Healthcare organizations are excited by the synergies between AI and telehealth. For example, clinicians are already using a Google machine learning algorithm to remotely diagnose and treat diabetic retinopathy.

Now that medical telemetry products are wireless and omnipresent, AI software can sift through the mountains of data faster than humans, quickly identifying health problems before they become catastrophic.

Partners Healthcare in Boston recently announced a 10-year alliance with GE Healthcare to develop new business models for applying AI to healthcare at Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Center for Clinical Data Science. This “deep learning” technology will soon be used to improve radiology diagnostics, operational efficiency and much more.

And if you thought that the HAL computer from the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey was amazing, wait until you see the newest AI advances. There’s a company called FDNA that uses AI and facial analysis to remotely analyze genomic data and diagnose rare diseases.

One note of caution: perfecting medical AI takes time. IBM launched Watson for Oncology six years ago, and by year’s end it will be able to diagnose 12 cancers that account for 80% of the world’s cases. That’s still a remarkable achievement. Coupled with telehealth, it’s already saving lives worldwide.



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