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The emerging role of Artificial Intelligence within healthcare

At the mere mention of ‘Artificial Intelligence’ (AI) you may begin to think about robots living amongst us, inanimate machines becoming self-aware or even the termination of ‘normal’ life as we know it, but these aspects of AI belong in science-fiction films. With rapid developments in medicine and the growth of technology, AI has real potential to assist us in advancing healthcare and medical research.

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But what is AI?

Put simply, AI is the simulation of human intelligence by machines. This machine-led learning allows high levels of data aggregation and analysis, enabling machines to quickly spot trends and deliver greater and more accurate insights. Through this human approach to technology, we are able to see how it can make a real difference in the healthcare sector.

How is AI being applied in the NHS?

AI is not an aspiration for the future, but a very significant part of healthcare today. Throughout the NHS and overall NHS digital transformation programme (NHS Long Term Plan » Digital transformation), we can see pioneering applications of this new technology in patient-centred care. 

From the NHS’ AI Hub utilising data from many public sector organisations, to improving outcomes in health and social care settings, through to developing a national COVID-19 Chest Imaging database, AI is providing quantity, quality and diversity in the data available to practitioners. 

Further applications of AI include accelerating disease detection, multimorbidity and informing strategies in Adult and Social Care. Beyond enabling practitioners and improving outcomes for patients, AI has the potential to support efficiency savings and enable data-sharing across a national institution.  

What do healthcare professionals think about AI in practice?

Medical professionals are already experiencing the benefits of AI in many settings, including surgery, nursing assistance, medical consultation, treatment design, diagnosis, health monitoring and clinical trials. Through an AI approach, we see not only a higher volume, but also a higher level of accuracy, when undertaking analysis. Examples include spotting tumours in dermatology, where AI can detect the differences between skin cancers and skin lesions.

With the help of AI, healthcare professionals can further understand the conditions of their patients, leading to better guidance and management. Acting as a second pair of eyes, AI is also being used to reduce the possibility of misdiagnosis, medication errors and reduce the volume of valuable resources wasted.

How is AI affecting the patient experience?

Beyond supporting diagnosis and enabling more rapid treatment for identified conditions, AI also has other roles to play in supporting the whole patient. AI can greatly help with routine activities such as taking medication, providing patients with reminders, giving personalised dosage guidance and monitoring patients in order to reduce the time it takes to discover something potentially life-threatening.

So where does this unique relationship between healthcare and AI go from here?

The partnership of healthcare and AI 

Whilst the insights and technology AI offers have the capability to learn to be as good as a doctor or nurse, it is likely AI will only ever work alongside our NHS workforce. It is expected that with continued advancements in AI research and government support, the use of AI in healthcare will grow extensively, creating cost savings and improvement in the quality of service in healthcare.

What does AI mean for medical research?

The answer to this question is, quite simple, that the opportunities are boundless. With the ability to securely share large volumes of highly-analysed data, and the future potential to drive real outcome changes for patient diagnosis, treatment, care, independence, research, medical advancement and drug development, the list just goes on, and almost feels limitless. 

At GKA, our practitioner and patient research communities are providing and undergoing a range of treatments informed by the intelligence AI provides. If your next research projects require access to professionals at the cutting edge of medical innovation, then please contact the GKA team on 01242 220240 or contactus@gilliankenny.com

A Market Researcher’s Guide to the NHS

Looking for further information and advice about what this means for medical market research? GKA engages directly with HCPs at the front line of these digital transformation programmes. Contact the team to discuss how we can connect innovative practitioners to your upcoming research projects.