Technology has helped the healthcare industry in more ways than one during the public health crisis. Here are some ways artificial intelligence has assisted researchers and frontline workers during the pandemic.
The pandemic has been difficult for the entire world, across all industries—but no sector has experienced a harder toll than the medical and healthcare industries. Thanks to the surge of cases of people who contracted the Delta and Lambda variants, some Southern cities are on the brink of a hospital collapse.
There is no denying that the world was not prepared for COVID-19 and its variant, and it has been a challenge for so many countries, not just in the United States. But it would have been much more difficult if we were battling it without technology.
Electronic medical records (EMR), in particular, have been beneficial for both primary care providers and patients alike. Anesthesiology EMR software has been widely used to help anesthesiologists gain access to their patient’s entire medical history to help provide them with the best and healthiest possible course of treatment.
Here are some ways AI has assisted frontline healthcare workers during the pandemic.
Detection and diagnosis
AI has long been used to help detect and diagnose various diseases in patients, and it also proved useful during the COVID-19 crisis. Researchers recently found ways to employ IA models to use image-based detection of COVID-19 infections in various cases. These models are helping doctors find disease characteristics that are not visible to the naked eye. The primary detection method they use is the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) on samples taken from throat and nasal swabs. However, it’s still vulnerable to various inaccuracies because of sampling errors.
Another diagnostic method is CT scans and chest X-rays of patients’ lungs, where AI can assess thousands of X-ray scans of patients with pneumonia and COVID-19 and those who are healthy. AI-driven models have shown promise in classifying, diagnosing, and predicting certain cases.
Clinical trial efficiency
There is so much time, work, and financial resources that go into clinical trials. It is always the longest part of developing any drug or vaccine, which is why it can use all the help it can get from various state-of-the-art technologies. It could help assign medical codes to various patient outcomes and ensure that pertinent data sets are constantly updated.
AI can help speed this process along since it can be more efficient in searching for medical codes. In COVID-19, this can mean significantly lessening the required amount of time to do some research, enhance performance, and greatly decrease human errors and oversight. Some new technologies that came out of these explorations are LitCovid and the COVID-NMA Project, among many others.
Informed patient care
Another way AI has been used in the medical world is by providing patients with better-informed care and consent. Healthcare providers, no matter what diseases they’re treating, always need valuable context when making care decisions of different kinds, which is why medical AI has proved incredibly useful and helpful for many clinicians who employed it.
A fully equipped machine learning algorithm can significantly cut down on long research times by giving primary care providers and researchers valuable search results based on insights backed by evidence—and all this can take place even while the patient is in the room with the physicians.
In the context of COVID-19, this can mean helping physicians sort through hundreds if not thousands of related peer-reviewed literature about disease topics and specialties. This will save researchers and doctors time in processing information to find a drug that can help the COVID-19-infected person in their hospital. Organizations that use AI for this purpose do so through natural language processing.
And because the COVID-19 disease is still largely managed through supportive care instead of a singular cure or drug, AI can help greatly in finding courses of treatment for different cases since people are still affected by the disease in different ways. AI-powered solutions and support can help clinicians make better and more informed decisions backed by medical science and evidence.
Lowering the expenses of care
AI has also been known for helping to reduce healthcare costs through fraud prevention, customized digital health assistance, and enforcing more efficient clinical and administrative workflows. At a time when so many COVID-19 cases are taking over the U.S., so many things can slip through the cracks, and patients may find themselves having to deal with exorbitant hospital fees. While AI alone cannot solve this massive system-wide healthcare issue, it can assist in small ways that accumulate for many people who need help the most.
The Bottom Line
Technology has advanced humanity since the dawn of time, and it will continue to do so moving forward. As long as our researchers, scientists, and tech developers are given the resources and funding they need. There’s no reason why the medical and tech communities cannot work together to finally put an end to this pandemic.