Doctors are increasingly leveraging artificial intelligence to streamline image reading, automate their administrative workflows, and generally reduce the burden of ancillary tasks on an already very busy schedule in healthcare.
But researchers aren’t stopping at administrative support for AI applications in healthcare. They are now looking beyond those analytical tasks and into how AI can directly optimize and improve physician capabilities. In particular, we’re seeing a surge in the application of emotional intelligence in AI, especially through voice systems, that will start to influence care.
How AI is Already Changing the Healthcare System
Artificial intelligence is already being used in exam and operating rooms to support physicians. While there was a certain amount of concern, especially in the medical community, about attempts to replace the training and experience of doctors with machinery, applications are more about supporting and improving the capabilities of doctors than replacing them.
Part of the reason for this is the technology we’ve already implemented. More than ever before, doctors have access to immense volumes of data from tests, passively collected data from wearable devices, and physical exam results. It’s nearly impossible, even for the best physicians, to evaluate all of this data for each of their patients to the level they would like. That’s where AI has already started to make an impact on the system. AI in medical systems is being used to identify triggers in test results, streamline the paperwork process, and generally reduce the burden placed on doctors.
There are also highly accurate diagnosis rates among AI systems. Research at John Radcliffe Hospital in England built a system that is more accurate than human doctors at diagnosing heart disease more than 80% of the time. There are dozens of examples like this – of an AI system showing higher rates of diagnostic accuracy for often challenging situations, especially when they are time-sensitive.
This doesn’t mean AI will be replacing doctors as diagnosticians anytime soon. Rather, it means doctors will be able to leverage technology to complete complicated, time-intensive tasks in a fraction of the time, freeing themselves to see more patients and provide a higher quality of care. Doctors currently spend an estimated 49% of their time on completing administrative work, and only 27% of their time with patients. By using AI-empowered systems that handle these tasks more efficiently, they can greatly reduce that time.
How Voice Is Taking AI in Health to the Next Level
As physicians become more comfortable using AI systems to augment their work and the quality of care increases, new applications for voice-systems are also being implemented. There are many examples of voice-systems being used for both patient monitoring and improved care from physicians.
Voice-AI is supporting physicians in a number of ways. For example, Suki is a new voice assistant designed specifically for physicians to help with administrative work. It supports a range of voice commands for writing clinical notes and test orders. The tool is designed to be more than just a dictation tool – trained to evaluate and respond to medical queries that would otherwise take the physician much longer to answer. Several companies are investing in similar technology that tackles the persistent challenge of administrative tasks and healthcare bureaucracy – both of which are cited as consistent sources of stress and burnout among physicians.
Behavioral Signals’ Emotion AI is providing the technology to empower software to support physicians in additional ways, detecting stress-related factors in the voice of patients in the operating room and exam room. The system is also being used for coaching and training to help improve physician bedside manner and to take the appropriate actions when key indicators are identified. The technology is designed to read the emotional state of the patient and help the doctor track their mood in real-time. This helps in specific situations to adjust how to engage with a patient, but it also helps to track patient progress over time.
Stress and anxiety can have a significant impact on a patient’s state of mind and influence a doctor’s approach for surgery, different procedure types and even routine appointments. The Emotion AI system is designed to help in this approach.
The Future of AI in Healthcare
AI will become an increasingly important element in the healthcare industry. It improves care, reduces cost and administrative burden, and helps monitor and support improvement of the mental state of both patients and physicians. With an estimated market value of AI in healthcare of $6.6 billion by 2021, it will be fascinating to watch startups in the space develop and implement new and creative ways to improve care with the technology, especially in monitoring and responding to the nuance in the human voice.
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