Artificial intelligence (AI) has become a significant force shaping the world. From manufacturing and robotics to even art and beyond, AI applications are growing exponentially. The healthcare industry is one area where AI is having a significant effect.
Healthcare AI has many potential benefits in almost every field, from patient care to administration. However, implementing AI tools can pose many challenges to healthcare.
The Role of Artificial Intelligence in the Healthcare Sector
The COVID-19 pandemic created a large problem for the healthcare industry. World governments imposed restrictions on large gatherings during the pandemic. Combined with the surge in demand for health services, these changes have caused a shortage of healthcare workers that persists in 2023.
Meeting these challenges to healthcare has forced the industry to adopt modern digital tools such as artificial intelligence. Healthcare AI is allowing the health sector to maintain efficiency and expand.
Handling Administrative Tasks
Burnout is one of the biggest reasons worker retention in the healthcare industry could improve. As demand for health services reaches record highs, workers, nurses and doctors are forced to take on double the work and long hours to keep up.
Healthcare AI tools can help alleviate some of this workload on the administrative level. Artificial intelligence programs excel at managing large data sets. This makes it perfect for automating routine tasks like managing patient medical and insurance information.
Using AI to handle these tasks automatically makes processing patient data and requests quicker and more efficient. It also removes some burdens from administrative staff, allowing them to focus on more important work.
Providing Greater Visibility
Healthcare AI tools can also provide greater visibility of patient data and present status. Computer systems run by AI can get the most relevant information into doctors’ and nurses’ hands faster and from anywhere — as long as they have access to a computer or mobile device.
Additionally, wearable health technology can give greater insight into hospital patients’ status by making monitoring their condition much easier. This technology can keep track of patients’ health metrics in real-time.
Nurses and doctors can receive regular reports on their patients’ status and be alerted quickly if there is an anomaly in their condition. This enhanced insight allows them to treat a patient’s condition much faster, potentially saving their lives.
The applications of healthcare AI are not limited to hospitals and care facilities. Another significant way AI is changing processes is in medical laboratories. Many lab functions, such as sample transportation and regular testing, are being automated using AI and robotics technology.
A shortage of trained staff has led to longer diagnostic wait times, which can delay patient care. These delays can have grave consequences for patients, especially those needing critical medical attention. Machine learning can be a great advantage in this area — now and in the future of AI in healthcare.
Machine learning AI is making significant changes to molecular and digital pathology especially. These programs can learn and accurately diagnose diseases based on DNA profiling. Allowing AI to test and make diagnoses automatically can significantly increase the speed and efficiency of medical laboratories — leading to faster results and patient care.
Challenges of Adopting Healthcare AI
While there are many advantages to using healthcare AI, its adoption is limited. Many facilities have not changed to computer and automated systems for one reason or another.
One of the biggest challenges to healthcare AI is the strict regulations regarding medical technology. Since many laws regulate the use of a patient’s medical information, the healthcare sector is more strict when it comes to data sharing than other industries.
While these regulations protect confidential medical information, they also hinder healthcare AI adoption. Making the greatest use of artificial intelligence means accessing large amounts of patient data across the healthcare network. This shift could potentially trigger patient privacy laws.
Consequently, healthcare facilities must do a lot of work to ensure their systems comply with patient privacy regulations. They’ll need a lot of time and resources to begin implementation — something facilities might not have.
Internal Process Disruptions
The most common challenge to healthcare AI is trying to avoid disruptions in processes. Switching from a paper and fax system to an automated one can disrupt the current workflow. In addition, staff members will have to be trained to use the new computer system.
Since healthcare AI is still relatively new, many doctors and nurses may need to become more familiar with new computer systems. Forcing providers to learn the new system while still trying to do their primary jobs may lead to an increased workload and longer turnaround times.
Stigma Against Artificial Intelligence
In addition to logistical concerns, another challenge to healthcare AI is the stigma surrounding artificial intelligence. A survey by the Pew Research Center reports that 60% of participants would be uncomfortable with artificial intelligence diagnosing their health conditions.
These participants cited ethical concerns and doubts that the diagnosis would be accurate and believed it would worsen their relationship with their healthcare provider. Of the 60%, 33% felt using healthcare AI would lead to worse healthcare services and 27% felt adopting digital solutions would make little difference.
In the healthcare industry, good relationships with patients are very important. Since many people do not believe or are unaware of the benefits of healthcare AI, facilities could potentially lose business by becoming over-reliant on AI services.
The Future of AI in Healthcare
While there are still many obstacles to overcome, artificial intelligence and digital solutions are the future of healthcare. As the healthcare industry continues to adopt computer technology, artificial intelligence will become a powerful tool to help doctors, nurses and healthcare workers make a difference in patients’ lives.
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