How Artificial Intelligence Is Helping Veterans' Health
by Christian Ofori-Boateng on Feb 5, 2017 8:30:00 AM
Until very recently, discussions about AI (artificial intelligence) were limited to science fiction and hopeful techs who were always on the verge of a discovery. Today, Artificial Intelligence is joining VA healthcare services. Whether or not we have true AI, the advanced analytics software developed for various industries is certainly more efficient than any human brain. While machines cannot think independently, the incredible amount of data involved in our daily lives has expanded their potential for analytics-based programming. This is being demonstrated through the VA’s new AI system.
The Role of Analytics in Medicine
Healthcare is a data-rich environment and the more we learn, the faster it grows. Managing these vast resources is time-consuming and easy to mismanage. Incorrect diagnoses are still fairly common. Even more worrisome, if a patient forgets to inform a new doctor of previous medication, their doctor could prescribe a life-threatening cocktail of medicines. There’s a reason why doctors have to train so long before they’re allowed anywhere near an actual patient, and even longer before they gain any decision-making power.
AI does not replace doctors, but it’s very good at gathering information, presenting that information, and even making suggestions. The VA’s new program generates diagnoses and treatments that correlate with the available data. This data includes not only the individual patient’s records but also the medical history of family members and known risk factors for various diseases. Preventative care is the best option for any patient, and the AI software aims to get ahead of future problems.
This isn’t the government’s first time playing with AI, but this new program blends it with deep learning, which is imperative for any software attempting to manage so much information. The VA’s new system is a test run that could lead to civilian hospitals adopting similar programs. Although this casts the nation’s veterans as guinea pigs, they are receiving tomorrow’s best medical care today.
The developer’s five-year partnership with the VA will generate an AI that can make personalized care plans for veterans. This won’t just be a big step in the tech world. It will also save the VA a lot in operational costs. Hopefully, these costs can go toward meeting more veterans’ needs in the coming years. The analytics alone will help healthcare professionals learn more about the underlying causes of illness, new risk factors, and optimum treatment plans. The system may well benefit patients everywhere, and not just those with VA access. Only time will tell, but the program looks incredibly promising.
The new system will offer care for every veteran. Individual treatment plans will be available in short order, and the more the AI learns, the more helpful it will become. This software cannot replace doctors, but it can provide a critical aid. Doctors are trained to deal with medicine, not analytics. This system can bridge the gap between data and treatment. Veterans will be the first to benefit from this cutting edge technology, but if it is successful, civilians may see similar products put to work in their local hospitals and clinics.