Before COVID-19, the global healthcare sector was valued at USD 10.5 trillion and was expected to grow to USD 11.9 trillion by 2022. The pandemic is set to accelerate this expansion, making the healthcare sector ripe for investment despite slowdowns elsewhere in the economy. In particular, artificial intelligence (AI) stands out as an area of special value for the industry moving forward.
In recent years, advances in AI have been instrumental in decoding DNA samples, scanning for harmful bacteria, and helping physicians make more accurate diagnoses. AI may even play a role in the development of a coronavirus vaccine.
Improving the healthcare sector is largely about making it more efficient, to prevent costly errors that could end up negatively affecting the health of patients.
As medical institutions aim for improved patient services, AI-based innovation may provide the spark they need to get the healthcare sector where it needs to be.
Better information sharing
One such spark may come in the form of collaborative ecosystems that can reshape and disrupt the current healthcare industry. No single organization can handle all aspects of healthcare, but the right set of partnerships and integrated services can allow for far greater efficiency than a group of isolated entities that each work within different systems.
Right now, medical centers and hospitals rarely share information with each other, especially in cases where they see each other as competitors. But individual providers often have their own software for data storage as well, leading to incompatible setups which make information sharing difficult even when it is desired.
This formation of data silos can lead to serious mistakes and misdiagnoses. If medical professionals could access complete patient records in real-time, they would be able to provide more timely and effective care.
AI and blockchain technologies can develop a secure central database of patient information, which can be accessed by any authorized medical professional, anytime and anywhere in the world.
Enhanced patient experiences
Many countries including Thailand are home to aging populations, and doctors are often hard-pressed to keep up with demands on their services.
AI can help ease the workloads of healthcare professionals in many ways. When used responsibly, AI’s ability to detect and identify specific diseases can allow for faster diagnoses, letting doctors focus more of their time on providing necessary treatment. Predictive analytics, an additional advance made possible through specialized software, may suggest valuable opportunities to provide preventive care.
Another promising area is in clinical decision-making, which can help hospital staff identify and prioritize patients in greatest need of care. Hospitals can use this strategy to reduce waiting times, which continue to be a major concern in many countries.
Better preventive care, more effective treatment, and shorter waiting times will go a long way to building patient trust and improving healthcare outcomes.
Automated data collection
Administrative error accounts for 86% of all mistakes in healthcare. Most of these mistakes can be eliminated through better systems, opening the door to AI and Robotic Process Automation as potential solutions to this issue.
AI’s ability to analyze and interpret data can be especially helpful at the patient intake stage, which is where a substantial portion of clerical errors are made.
Moreover, improved efficiency could give healthcare administrators the freedom to focus on customer service and patient care.
Tech entrepreneurs and the future of healthcare
Each of the above elements is well within the reach of today’s tech-minded entrepreneurs. Although the world of healthcare is sprawling and at times messy, the main challenges now largely relate to data processing and standardization.
With much attention on the world’s health problems at the moment, the right group of software engineers may be on the verge of pushing the entire field forward – delivering a much-needed boost to the experiences of doctors and patients alike.