For years our hospitals and clinics have been using robots to treat and care for patients. Now, artificial intelligence (AI) is driving the technological revolution in healthcare even further. Although the use of machine learning (ML) and AI in health has a long history, these tools have become more accessible and practical to use in everyday healthcare.
AI is no longer the stuff of Hollywood movies, it can deliver faster, better patient care. immediately Making healthcare a sophisticated industry.
Given that Australia’s healthcare model has remained unchanged for decades, AI is a technology that is being embraced as an effective tool to improve patient care and reduce the strain on the public healthcare system.
Innovative health-tech companies such as Navigator Group, a leading recovery service for people injured at work or in motor vehicle accidents, are already using AI to better target patient care and improve diagnosis and recovery times.
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We see tremendous potential in emerging technologies such as devices that track a patient’s eye gaze in response to stimulation to explore conditions such as PTSD and depression. and AI tools that assess facial expressions and vocal qualities in casual conversations to help identify psychological and neurological disorders.
The Navigator Group is actively engaged in research and development in this area using AI and ML to help create a better future for healthcare in Australia and around the world.
AI also presents a more cost-effective way to treat patients, allowing more time and money to be spent on patient care and less on administrative tasks such as screening processes and data entry.
There is a staggering backlog of persons with physical or mental injuries from work-related or motor vehicle-related accidents who cannot receive adequate care quickly, due to an already strained system. Emerging platforms and technologies powered by AI can accelerate referrals by identifying physician schedule availability, speeding up administrative processes, and giving patients faster access to immediate care, meaning less pain and suffering across the system.
ML algorithms can also match patients with healthcare professionals who have exceptional results in specific areas of care. For example, the Navigator Group uses a questionnaire to assess a patient’s mental state during whiplash recovery. AI is used to evaluate their answers and identify the complexity of their trauma, so they can be allocated to the right experienced doctor. Without the aid of this unique algorithm, it would have taken longer to identify significant trauma in our patients and could have affected their access to prompt treatment.
AI should be seen as a complementary tool in the healthcare sector rather than an absolute solution. Like many other tools that have become a mainstay in society – such as facial recognition, digital assistants, social media apps and e-commerce – healthcare still requires human oversight and care to manage complex human interactions.
To suggest that AI can completely replace trusted health professionals is taking it too far. Continuous training and education will be required for health professionals to ensure that AI tools can be used both effectively and ethically. However, if used responsibly, AI has immense power to improve the lives of millions of Australians. It can also be used to accelerate intellectual labor such as synthesizing past research, generating ideas for future research, and training healthcare professionals.
Going forward, it is the responsibility of the entire healthcare industry to ensure the ethical integration of AI into our systems and practices. Healthcare professionals should approach AI/ML tools with cautious optimism and embrace the potential of new technologies to transform our healthcare systems for the better.
Dr John McMahon is a clinical psychologist and Science Director of the Navigator Group.