- Brief about the evolution of technology in medicine.
Like everything else, the field of healthcare and medicine too, have gone through various changes over the years. These changes, even though minor at the time, paved the way for exceptional development in the world of medicine. Currently, we have medicines for everything and anything!
“When no preexisting technology is available (an empty landscape), a wide assortment of products may appear within a short time to compete for market share. With time, the unsuccessful products disappear; products with more promise evolve and come to resemble the most successful designs. A perfect example of this phenomenon is the evolution of device designs for total knee replacement. Shortly after the total hip replacement was perfected in the 1960s, a very diverse group of total knee replacement designs were developed, marketed, and implanted in patients with arthritis during the next 10 to 15 years.”
It is important to note how certain medical advancements took place within a short span of time, however, there are various areas in the field of medicine that still need to be researched and worked upon. A classic example of this is: Within 6 months we had a vaccine for Covid-19, however, we still do not have a cure for cancer or for increasing platelet count. In case one is affected by dengue or malaria “people are encouraged to improve their condition by eating specific foods. Foods that may be of benefit include those containing folate and those rich in vitamins B12, C, D, or K.”
Introduction to Artificial Intelligence and its potential in the medical field:
Artificial intelligence in healthcare is an overarching term used to describe the use of machine-learning algorithms and software, or artificial intelligence (AI), to mimic human cognition in the analysis, presentation, and comprehension of complex medical and healthcare data, or to exceed human capabilities by providing new ways to diagnose, treat, or prevent disease. , Imagine, having computer data that comes to a conclusion as to what exactly a person is going through and suggests treatment accordingly. That is exactly why the primary aim of health-related AI applications is to analyze relationships between clinical data and patient outcomes.
- IBM Watson in Oncology:
Background: IBM Watson, named after IBM’s founder Thomas J. Watson, is a supercomputer that combines artificial intelligence and analytical software to perform as a “question-answering” machine. Its application in oncology showcases how AI can revolutionize cancer care.
- Data Analysis: Watson can analyze the meaning and context of structured and unstructured data in clinical notes and reports. This capability is crucial given the vast amount of information that’s generated in oncology, including research papers, clinical trial data, and patient medical records.
- Treatment Recommendations: Based on a patient’s medical information, Watson provides evidence-backed treatment options. It compares patient data to available guidelines, medical literature, clinical trial data, etc., and then ranks potential treatments.
- Clinical Trial Matching: With countless clinical trials happening worldwide, finding a suitable one for a patient can be daunting. Watson helps match patients with potential clinical trial options, ensuring they have access to the latest treatments.
Challenges and Concerns:
- Dependence on Data Quality: Watson is only as good as the data it’s trained on. If there are errors or biases in the data, it may affect the quality of the treatment recommendations.
- Human Oversight: While Watson provides recommendations, it’s crucial that oncologists maintain a central role in decision-making, balancing the machine’s suggestions with human experience and intuition.
Google’s DeepMind in Ophthalmology:
Background: DeepMind, acquired by Google in 2014, is an AI company that has been applying its technology to various fields, including healthcare. One significant application is in the domain of ophthalmology to detect eye diseases.
- Detecting Diabetic Retinopathy and Macular Degeneration: In partnership with Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, DeepMind trained a neural network to detect over 50 ophthalmic conditions by analyzing 3D retinal OCT (Optical Coherence Tomography) scans. The AI system could recommend the correct treatment approach for over 94% of cases, matching world-leading ophthalmologists.
- Predictive Analysis: Beyond just detection, DeepMind’s AI system can predict the development of an eye condition, allowing for preventive measures before the condition becomes severe or irreversible.
- Streamlining Referrals: Often, time is of the essence in treating eye conditions. With the AI’s help, patients can be prioritized based on the severity detected in scans, ensuring those in urgent need receive care faster.
Challenges and Concerns:
- Data Privacy: With Google’s involvement, there have been concerns about patient data privacy. Ensuring that patient data is used strictly for medical purposes and not for any commercial gains is paramount.
- Limitations in Real-world Scenarios: While DeepMind showed high accuracy in controlled conditions, its real-world application would require integration with existing hospital IT systems, training for medical personnel, and consistent updates based on emerging data.
Conclusion: The amalgamation of AI and medicine promises a future where healthcare is more precise, personalized, and accessible. However, it comes with challenges that society, overall, needs to address.
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