COVID-19: How AI is Revolutionizing the Healthcare Industry

COVID-19 has disrupted our daily lives across the globe. While the pandemic has hit us hard, some sectors have soared because of the novel Corona Virus. COVID-19 and the increasing expectations from the healthcare industry have given rise to a technological revolution, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the cornerstone of this revolution. A study in 2019 about the Artificial Intelligence healthcare markets of 19 countries estimated a 41.7% CAGR, from $1.3 billion in 2018 to $13 billion in 2025. This growth is in six significant areas: hospital workflow, medical imaging and diagnostics, therapy planning, wearables, virtual assistants, and drug discovery.

Artificial intelligence has already played a useful in the fight against the coronavirus. Over the past few months, AI has been used for prediction, screening, contact alerts, faster diagnosis, automated deliveries, and laboratory drug discovery. As the pandemic continues to spread, experts around the world have introduced innovative applications of AI. In South Korea, location-based notifications are a vital tool to alert people when they are near a confirmed case. In China, Alibaba introduced an AI algorithm that can diagnose suspected cases within 20 seconds with 96% accuracy, which is almost 45 times faster than human detection. Autonomous vehicles in areas that were too dangerous for humans gained traction quickly. Delivering foods, medicine, and goods to quarantined families and patients in hospitals has become the new normal, all because of the continuous revolutions in Artificial Intelligence.

Let us look at some of the ways Artificial Intelligence is revolutionizing the Healthcare Industry.

  • Rapid Diagnosis and Treatment

Since the spread of COVID-19 is extreme, it can be curbed through immediate diagnosis. This can lead to quick response measures such as quarantine can be employed immediately to stop the infection further. As mentioned above, early in the outbreak in China, the AI algorithm released by Alibaba trained more than 5000 confirmed coronavirus cases. The algorithm can diagnose patients through their CT scans in 20 to 30 seconds. It can also analyze the scans of already diagnosed patients and rapidly assess health declines or progress. Similarly, deep learning, one of the branches of artificial intelligence, allows an accurate and rapid explanation of medical scans, pathology slides, eye exams, and colonoscopies.

  • Workflow Automation

COVID-19 has given rise to social distancing and easy accessibility of essential facilities from our homes. Artificial Intelligence has automated workflows, which has consequently allowed us to make appointments, pay insurance bills, get our grocery less tedious. Robotic process automation combined with AI has optimized processes and analyzed workflows to deliver significantly more efficient medical systems, enhance the hospital systems, and streamline insurance fulfillment. AI also has the potential to automate and accelerate pre-diagnostic inputs by crunching texts, languages, and numbers at robotic precision and quantity.

  • Health Benchmarks

A big reason why Artificial Intelligence is rapidly changing conventional healthcare operations is its ability to read and analyze large amounts of data. With sufficient data as a foundation, AI has the potential to establish health data benchmarks for different demographics and populations. From there, it will allow us to detect anomalies from the baselines and has the potential to recognize potential pandemics then early. It’s not easy to pull off. Systems have to be connected so that early alert and response mechanisms are put in genuinely useful places.

  • Drug Discovery

AI models and algorithms are already being used for new drug discovery and medical breakthroughs in stem cells, Crispr, genomic sequencing, and more. Today, developing successful treatments come with a hefty price tag as a considerable amount of the money is spent on unsuccessful trials. With Artificial Intelligence in the picture, scientists are employing machine learning to model hundreds of variables to learn how their compounds can affect the human cell. These technologies are already being used to find a cure for COVID-19 and other therapies. A Hong Kong-based AI company, Insilico Medicine, was amongst the first companies to start vaccine development against COVID-19.

With all the discovery and success of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, there are some critical issues of data privacy and protection. Patient’s records and their personal information can be at significant risk. To ensure data is computed, transmitted, and stored securely, technologies like homomorphic encryption, federated learning, and trusted hardware execution environments can be employed.