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Transforming healthcare: artificial intelligence

Published: March 2023

Bex Jones
Bex Jones, Design Consultant

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) have become increasingly dominant disciplines across many applications and have revolutionised the world that we live in. From simple tasks like maps and navigation, to some of the latest breakthroughs such as Open AI’s chatbot, AI surrounds our everyday life and is only forecast to increase further.

Here I explore the latest advancements with the technology and specifically how it’s transforming the healthcare industry, the potential benefits and challenges, and how it’s impacting the way Healthcare Professionals (HCPs) provide care.

Latest trends - Software Platforms

ChatGPT has been a popular topic recently and has demonstrated the impressive, albeit slightly alarming, capabilities that AI has. The chatbot can be asked to do just about anything: it would be able to write this entire article with utmost ease (of course it hasn’t though).

Instead, Shore recently sampled the software by requesting ChatGPT to create a Robert Burns-inspired medical design poem on our behalf. For such a niche request, in our opinion, we were happy with the results. The poem can be found on our LinkedIn post.

Similarly, platforms such as Midjourney enable AI to assist in the creative process by taking guidance text or audio and outputting computer-generated images. According to designers, it is believed this will become more commonly used to aid in producing early-stage concepts. Again, Shore tested out the software with various medical related design commands…

AI generated image for medical device design
‘Industrial design for a medical device’ via Midjourney
Although this is very impressive, especially as only a small level of information was given, we don’t think AI will be replacing our brilliant, talented team anytime soon!

The growth of AI in Healthcare

AI in healthcare specifically has grown at an astronomical rate, likely due to the rising need for care with an aging population, without the resources to reflect this.
graph which highlights AI and ML-enabled devices

According to the FDA, the number of AI and ML-enabled devices has increased 83% from 2018 to 2021, where there was a record 115 authorisations.

The power that this has in the medical industry has provided increased accuracy for diagnostics and assisting professionals in their quality of care by taking over repetitive and administration tasks. However, with advancing technology, this has extended beyond data assistance or management into further areas such as enhanced imaging systems, smart robots, and wearable devices.

With this surge in technologies, the drive for relevant staff training and expertise to support this has become a priority. This led to the creation of the Digital Health Centre of Excellence within the FDA in 2020, to ensure that patient’s safety is at the forefront of these changes in treatment decisions.

Uses of AI in Healthcare

Some of the key areas include:

  • Making accurate diagnosis and treatment
  • Accelerating drug discovery and development
  • Personalising medicine
  • Monitoring and predicting patient outcomes
  • Enabling robotic surgery

 

At present, the greatest use for AI is in radiology and cardiology due to the large data pool of imaging and electrocardiograms available. An example of this in practice demonstrates how AI is being applied across the world, in both developed and developing countries. In India, a device has been designed that combines thermal imaging with AI to help detect breast cancer, as mammography screenings are not readily available. Although the FDA does not deem this as reliable as mammography, it provides an accessible and non-invasive point of care for users, increasing the likelihood of women to go for a screening.

A recent interesting medical AI product that has been FDA approved however is Neural Sleeve, a bionic leg wrap designed to correct muscle movements for users with limited mobility. The sleeve utilises electrodes to send pulses to the affected muscles in the correct sequence. Artificial intelligence is used in the receptor module, located in a thigh pocket, that measures the user’s gait pattern and transfers this information to activate the appropriate electrodes.

person with neuron sleeve on leg

The Neuron Sleeve process is managed by an app, allowing the user to have greater control. This is a trend within AI that has been particularly prominent in the last few years- the connectivity between wireless, digital devices, also known as Internet of Things (IoT). IoT has increased engagement and independence by encouraging patients to take a more active part in their care, therefore increasing the likelihood of success.

This has been a positive introduction to healthcare as it has also enabled remote monitoring through connected sensors and wearables, for example, which provides professionals with data on their patients to assist with accurate treatments. We will touch more on the importance of connected devices in the second part to our ‘Future of Healthcare’ series, coming soon!

While there are numerous benefits gained by the healthcare system and medical devices through AI and ML, the disciplines naturally come with some drawbacks – possible security risks arguably being the largest. This is likely to be the greatest barrier for users accepting and fully adopting the future abilities that the technology can provide due to the concern of their private data being accessed by unauthorised parties.

What's Next?

The big question is how far AI will go in healthcare now that it has the capabilities to completely mimic, and therefore potentially replace, human interaction. While this ratio between the two may be subjective, I believe that it is key for the areas to continue amalgamating, rather than replacing one another for the future of healthcare to thrive. For this to happen, the data security of patients and workers must have the same consideration and evolve at the same rate as the technology for maximum confidence.
 
At Shore, data communication and management are key factors we consider when designing our interactive devices. Creating a premium product experience that resonates with users allows our devices to provide a positive user interaction and build trust. A prime example of this is our OneTouch Verio Reflect Blood Glucose Meter designed and engineered for LifeScan.
LifeScan blood glucose meter showing test result
The Verio Reflect has an integrated smart mentor designed to provide guidance, insights, and encouragement to users through a simple and intuitive interface. This device demonstrates that even a small use of AI can make a significant impact on the user, therefore the prospect of creating an even smarter device is an extremely exciting avenue we look forward to exploring in the future.
AI generated ‘handheld diabetes glucose meter with emoji display’
Alongside its challenges, AI is transforming healthcare to improve patient outcomes, accelerate drug discovery, and increase efficiency in operations. If you’re looking to integrate AI technology into your products, we’d love to discuss this with you.
 
 

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