The role of AI and automation in healthcare

Over the years, technology has always helped driving the healthcare sector forward by improving patient care, medical procedures, and devices. Intelligent automation and artificial intelligence (AI) play a key role in enhancing healthcare and bringing more digitalization, innovation, and efficient processes.

With the current sanitary crisis, it is now more important than ever than technology remains at the service of the healthcare sector and introduce new ways to treat patient faster and better.

We have then talked with tech experts about what AI and automation can bring to the healthcare industry.

 

The potential of AI and automation in healthcare

Since the industrial revolution, AI and automation have been extremely beneficial for the healthcare industry. From reducing administrative work to improving diagnosis, treatments, and management of resources, AI and automation can enhance the quality of life of both providers and patients.

Usharani Sundaramoorthy, quality manager at Deluxe Corporation, tells us that AI and automation help in quick decision making and analysis as they can compute millions of data in milliseconds. Hence, it can save many lives by helping make proper decisions faster.

‘Every second is valuable in saving human life.’

Christopher Lanor, Test Engineer at Abbott Automation Solutions GmbH, highlights that the potential of automation and AI in healthcare is enormous and will result in better patient care in the future.

Indeed, he continues, automation will allow faster processing and turnaround time of patient samples. This combined with the machine learning nature of AI can lead to a more accurate diagnosis of sickness and therefore a more accurate prescription of medicine & treatment.

Gowshik R, Senior Test Engineer at Mindtree, emphasizes the fact that automation can raise productivity growth with the current AI-powered automation tools by reducing errors and improving quality and speed, and in some cases even, achieving outcomes that go beyond human capabilities.

Moreover, he says, AI and automation can increase productivity and the efficiency of care delivery and allow healthcare systems to provide more and better care to more people.

‘AI can help improve the experience of healthcare practitioners, enabling them to spend more time in direct patient care and reducing burnout.’

Usharani adds that automating systems helps in planning, organizing, and reporting quicker in a better workflow as well as helps in serving many patients and reducing wait time.

Everything from patient booking to clinical correspondence and lab results etc. needs to be automated in full workflow rather than in independent systems. Hence, AI will be able to really give guidance during patient diagnosis, analysis, and even surgery. It can also be helpful in giving medication and support for patients such as remote-controlled implant devices, among others.

 

But is there any danger?

Christopher points out that having increased automation and AI within the healthcare industry can lead to a decrease in human input in processes.

Subsequently, he continues, some jobs and roles will be affected and no longer be required. For instance, when a laboratory becomes automated whilst productivity increases, certain roles will be made redundant.

‘The healthcare industry, like any other industry with increased automation and AI in its processing, must adapt creatively with the creation of new roles to retain healthcare professionals.’

Usharani emphasizes that point as well by saying that it reduces job but also reduces the connection between care system and patient, which becomes more machine-oriented. Doctors should have a personal impact and connection with patients to guarantee a quick recovery, especially as mental state matters a lot, she highlights.

Gowshik points out several drawbacks such as:

  • High-cost implementation,
  • Lacks Creativity
  • The fact that automation can’t replace humans
  • High risk of unemployment.

Hence, how to successfully implement automation within the industry?

According to Christopher, automation can only be successfully implemented when there is an in-depth understanding of manual processes. Indeed, certain manual checkpoints must be included in the automation process to ensure a successful outcome.

For Usharani, some steps must be followed in order to adopt successfully automation within the heal care sector:

  1. Find where there is a delay in getting things faster and focus automation here
  2. Analyze where the ROI (return in investment) is valuable and automate there
  3. Don’t automate if real vision and value gets impacted high (i.e., patient connection and recovery rate)
  4. Automate Test Results, booking appointments, and scheduling
  5. Spend more time with patients than on digital items.

Usharani points out that the patients are what matters so there is a need to ensure that the time of the patient is valued equally with the doctors. For instance, try to reduce the wait time and increase the efficiency of the process.

Furthermore, Gowshik emphasized that to successfully implement automation, there should be good integration, accessibility, customization, scalability,  and a good alignment with regulations.

 

The future of automation and AI in healthcare

Christopher believes that the future of automation and AI in healthcare will no doubt be challenging, however, when implemented correctly the rewards will be enormous.

Usharani thinks similarly. She wants to see digital innovation, AI, and automation being implemented for early detection and treatment in order to guarantee a healthy, longer life for patients.

Gowshik believes that the future of automation looks promising, a future where everything will be made accessible and easily available.

‘With rapid development in artificial intelligence and robotics technology, automation is at a tipping point. Today, robots can perform a slew of functions without considerable human intervention. Automated technologies are not only executing iterative tasks but also augmenting workforce capabilities significantly.’ Gowshik says.

Therefore, by automating healthcare processes and devices, hospitals and medical providers are able to improve patient care as well as increase practice productivity. In so doing, patients will be at the heart of the process, as they always should be. It should also allow health workers to focus on increasing more highly skilled work.

Ultimately, increasing the implementation of AI and automation in healthcare should not only improve the efficiency of medical centers but also upgrade the quality of care.

 

Special thanks to Usharani Sundaramoorthy, Christopher Lanor, and Gowshik R for their insights!

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