Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare

By: Muhammad Ali

Where COVID-19 had created many new challenges, it’s also created new ways and opportunities for us.

COVID-19 has been a tough challenge for every country, around the world. It has tested different countries in decision-making policies, healthcare systems, economic crisis, education, and so on. We’ve experienced many things for the first time like an outsized number of people wearing masks, social distancing, online education, etc. Technology is claimed to be a solution to every problem. Does AI is capable to handle things like global pandemic?

When we consider AI, a picture of a robot destroying the Earth comes into our minds. But actually, it’s not like that. Artificial Intelligent systems are machines that can learn from the data given to them and performs the tasks accordingly. So AI may is a replica of human Intelligence. It’s necessary to possess a sensible view of AI, it can’t do all the things that we humans do. For instance, AI can diagnose pneumonia after training it using 1000s’ of images but it can’t understand a medical book explaining something about pneumonia. In further paragraphs, I have mentioned how AI can help in healthcare systems during this pandemic and in the future.

There are many new achievements regarding AI, from different countries. Engineers had developed different applications, which will take your symptoms and tell you the results if you’re infected or not. These apps also tell about the degree of your infection and provide recommendations on what to do next. Similar applications can highlight the areas in which COVID-19 is present and if you are heading towards those areas your phone will make you alert. These type of application are called chatbots, they will communicate with the users and helps them instantly. These applications can help people not to go to hospitals, which may eventually reduce the infection.

Nowadays across the world doctors are busy treating their patients, and putting their lives in danger. Still, in most parts of the world, it’s extremely difficult to handle a large number of patients simultaneously. But imagine if we’ve got AI doctors in several parts of the world and trained to handle COVID-19 patients. They’re trained by the algorithms made by WHO and other highly qualified doctors. Now the person sitting in mid-city are going to get an equivalent treatment as the person living in far backward areas, regardless of you’re a millionaire or not you’ll be getting an equivalent treatment.

We, humans, have a characteristic of individuality. Many a time in hospitals due to negligence of or incompetence of Doctors, patient suffers. This is often not the case with AI doctor. AI systems are often connected with each other which makes scalability easier. For instance, if some research regarding better treatment had been found and now it must be implemented then it’ll take months to train all the doctors around the world. But it’ll take seconds to update all AI doctors. But what if you’re not satisfied with your AI doctor? You’ll have another AI Doctor as well, suppose if you didn’t like the advice of Google doctor you’ll have an IBM doctor too.

Where the doctors would go?

Now you’ll argue that if all the doctors are replaced by AI doctors what human doctors will do? Well, the solution is there are many tasks that AI doctors can’t do like research work, teaching, writing, supervising, and finding new ways to cure diseases, and so on. These all jobs can be done by human doctors. By doing so, the profession can’t be eradicated. Many countries leading in AI have built their AI systems which will handle specific medical problems like detection of breast cancer, and they are doing well.

To sum up, where COVID-19 had created many new challenges, it’s also created new ways and opportunities for us. Today the engineers, doctors, and scientists are working together to intermingle Biomedical and Infotech. The merger of both can change the whole world. So it’s time to not be too optimistic nor too pessimist regarding AI. We humans do have creativity and emotions that AI doesn’t have. Let AI do the tasks it can and we humans do what we can.

The writer is a student of Computer Systems Engineering at NED University of Engineering and Technology. He can be reached at [email protected]