9 AI Medical Applications and Concerns

It’s common to see healthcare providers searching for information on their phones. Between trying to find a doctor or filling in a prescription, they have to search for relevant content and compare it to their personal preferences.

With the introduction of the EMR (Electronic Medical Records), health information technology has evolved from simple paper-based records to more sophisticated systems that use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to help providers make decisions and provide better care.

However, despite all the benefits technology brings to healthcare, it also poses some unique challenges.

Here are some of the most pressing ones.

  • Privacy And Security

Even now, many people are worried about the security of their personal data. When it comes to healthcare, privacy is even more important because of the sensitive nature of the information that is often recorded.

Health information is a goldmine for hackers who want to steal people’s personal data. Healthcare providers have plenty to offer between email addresses, physical prescriptions, and financial information. In addition, as the population ages and healthcare systems implement new technologies, the number of elderly people who may be vulnerable to scams and hack attacks rises.

However, while the technology behind EMRs makes it easy to track and secure physical locations, the cloud makes it easier for healthcare providers to work remotely and allows for more mobility. This means that even if a healthcare provider’s office is physically located in a secure location, there is still a risk that electronic breaches could occur.

  • Accessibility

One of the most significant disadvantages of EMRs is that they are often only accessible to healthcare providers who work at that particular facility. Even when EMRs are cloud-based and hosted by a third party, access is still restricted to people with an account with that hosting company and an internet connection. Some medical community members have spoken out against what they perceive as a lack of accessible EMRs. Especially since EMRs provide the basic information that doctors need to make decisions about their patients, they argue that more accessible EMRs would lead to better healthcare.

  • Cost

Many healthcare providers have argued that the costs that are associated with EMRs are too high. Especially since they have to purchase expensive technology and implement specialized training sessions to use these systems effectively. The costs associated with EMRs are too great and burden the healthcare system. However, healthcare providers are also responsible for many of their costs. 

The OECD published a report in 2017 stating that wasteful expenditures cost more than they are worth. The vast majority of this spending is simply a byproduct of inefficient paper-based systems. If you want to cut costs, you first should eliminate the need to print out thousands of redundant information and scan them into EMRs before sending them to insurance providers.

  • Mobility

EMRs require a lot of manpower to maintain and update the information they contain. This is something that gets progressively more difficult every time someone wants to make a change or add a new section. If you’re not in front of a PC (Personal Computer) all day, every day, then you have to find a way to make the process simpler. This is where mobility comes in. When a doctor or nurse wants to make a change to an EMR, they can do it from almost anywhere. Between workstations and mobile devices, they have the tools to do their jobs efficiently, even when traveling or away from their office.

However, this convenience comes with the risk that mistakes could occur. Since healthcare providers can work remotely and can update the records from anywhere, there is always the possibility that a mistake could occur. Between human error and the occasional hacker attack, things could go wrong. This is why many healthcare providers see EMRs as a double-edged sword – while they help with mobility, they also make the providers more susceptible to errors and security breaches.

  • Scalability

Like with any other technology, as hardware and software capabilities improve, so make the applications. In the case of healthcare, this means that the costs and manpower required to keep EMRs updated and in use increases every year. Especially since the information that they contain is always expanding. As the world becomes more interconnected and information is constantly being updated and changed, the amount of information that needs to be kept up to date in EMRs grows yearly. This is also one reason why healthcare providers are so opposed to moving to a digital record system.

As healthcare providers have spoken out against the poor scalability of EMRs, many companies have started to release EMR alternatives that are either free or have a low-cost model. These alternatives are usually cloud-based platforms that store all the healthcare information in a searchable database. This provides better accessibility for everyone whose job is to review and maintain the information – doctors, nurses, pharmacists, etc.

However, while these tools are better suited for large healthcare facilities and teams of professionals, they are still unable to keep up with the needs of individual practitioners. If you’re a one-person-practitioner-type-of-specialty, you will have difficulty finding the right tool for the job.

  • Personalized Medicine

Shortly, AI will play an important role in all of medicine and dentistry. Thanks to advances in medical imaging, such as CT and MRI scanning, and the rise of deep learning, AI can now see, hear, and feel like a real doctor. Early tests show that patients might prefer to have their own doctor perform surgery and prescribe medication remotely rather than going through traditional in-person medical evaluations. This is a world that AI is excited to bring to life.

Although personalized medicine may seem easy for doctors to serve their patients better, some challenges must be overcome before this model can be widely implemented. One of the major concerns is data security. If patients submit their medical records to a centralized database, how can they be sure that their information will remain private? Where does the data go when the computer system is turned off? Are there ways that the data can be corrupted or misused? These are questions that doctors and bioethicists are struggling with today.

  • Robotics

Even the most seasoned doctors are getting in on AI robotics and looking to incorporate these technologies into their practices. Since most medical procedures entail manual labor, robots can take much of the grunt work out of surgery and other procedures. Not only does this make things faster for both patients and doctors, but it also enhances the quality of the outcome

As with any new technology, some challenges arise from adopting robotics in medicine. For example, how does a doctor justify the cost of purchasing a $100K+ robot when there are already so many medical devices that serve the same purpose? Does a robot make the surgeon more appealing to prospective patients in the operating room?

  • Health Insurance

Health insurance is becoming more expensive, and consumers are looking for ways to save money. One way that doctors try to ensure they get paid for their services is by promoting healthy habits in their patients. Suppose a doctor can identify early signs of disease in a patient. In that case, it allows them to start treatment earlier and potentially prevent the patient from going through expensive surgery or medication. As with any new healthcare payment model, implementing wellness checks and disease prevention into health insurance plans raises questions about fairness and whether or not everyone will truly benefit from these new policies.

  • Venturing Into Data Science

For many, the appeal of AI is in its raw computational power. Deep learning, one of the sub-fields of AI, is unique because it requires vast amounts of data to train its algorithms. As a result, many companies have turned to data scientists, who have the skills to analyze big data and discover insights through advanced statistics and mathematical formulas. Companies are looking to data scientists to help them solve their problems and better understand their customer base. As the role of a data scientist becomes more important in future workplaces, job prospects are promising.

While AI can benefit all areas of medicine and dentistry, it is important to understand AI’s role in our daily lives. Will AI revolutionize medicine and dentistry as we know it? Or will it create entirely new fields that we didn’t even imagine? The exciting thing is that we don’t know the answer to these questions yet, but we are certain that AI will play an integral role in our lives shortly.

Overall

Even though technological advancements make our lives simpler, they also complicate our jobs. When it comes to healthcare, the complicated part is that there are so many different types of jobs that need to be done simply to provide for the basic needs of the medical community. In the ideal world, a healthcare provider could use a smartphone to search for a diagnosis, order a repeat prescription, or look up a formulary. 

In reality, that is not how healthcare currently works. Between upgrading software and buying new technology, it is clear that the medical community is still struggling to make things easier. This is why so much focus is placed on healthcare artificial intelligence and machine learning.

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