A digital health company from the UK wants to change the way a patient interacts with a doctor through the creation of an artificial intelligence (AI) doctor in the form of an AI chatbot.
Babylon Health raised close to $60 million in April 2017 to diagnose illnesses with an AI chatbot on your smartphone. Around the same time, Berlin and London based start up Ada announced its push into the AI chat bot space.
“The news that Babylon Health has raised near £50M to build an ‘AI doctor’ is a promising development for the health industry; trials are currently ongoing in London, where Babylon’s tech is being used as an alternative to the non-emergency 111 number," said Dr. Joseph Reger, CTO, Fujitsu EMEIA.
The rapid commercialization of machine learning and big data has helped bring AI to the forefront of healthcare and life sciences and is set to change how the industry diagnoses and treats disease.
In a 2016 study by Frost & Sullivan, the market for AI in healthcare is projected to reach $6.6 billion by 2021, a 40% growth rate. The report goes on to say that clinical support from AI will strengthen medical imaging diagnosis processes and using AI solutions for hospital workflows will enhance care delivery. Frost & Sullivan also reports that AI has the potential to improve outcomes by 30 to 40 percent at the same time the costs of treatment by as much as 50%.
"AI is now disrupting how businesses operate and will change the way that organizations create real value for the customer or patient. Industries can reap huge benefits by developing cooperative models that can quickly combine businesses needs with AI tech," said Reger.
AI In Chinese Hospitals
China has one of the highest lung cancer rates in the world. Forbes reported in April 2017 that there were more than 700,000 new cases of lung cancer in the country in 2015 and there are 80,000 radiologists in China who diagnose around 1.4 billion radiology scans a year.
At Shanghai Changzheng Hospital in China, radiologists have been utilizing AI technology from Infervison to improve medical diagnosis in reading CT scans and x-rays and identify suspicious lesions and nodules in lung cancer patients.
The company, which partners GE Healthcare, Cisco, and Nvidia and works with 20 tertiary grade A hospitals in China, pairs a computerized tomography (CT) scan with AI that learns the core characteristics of lung cancer and then detects the suspected cancer features through different CT image sequences. Earlier diagnosis allows doctors to prescribe treatments earlier.
In a statement, Chen Kuan, founder, and CEO, Infervision said that in no way will this technology ever replace doctors.
"It's intended to eliminate much of the highly repetitive work and empower doctors to help them deliver faster and more accurate reports,” said Reger.
Fujitsu's Reger says the process of machine learning is considered to be time-saving but will only be successful if data is implemented as the lifeblood of the system. "In this instance, data will enable AI machines to learn and understand new medical functions, and then critically provide humans e.g. doctors with the necessary information to diagnose problems," added Reger. "The potential application of AI in healthcare could even grow to possibly predict future illnesses even before they manifest, improving the quality of services for patients. All of this will not be achieved without vast swathes of data, an acceptance that AI will supplement jobs, not replace them, and the overall investment in the technology itself."