The topic of artificial intelligence in healthcare today rightly gets a great deal of attention. In some cases, AI is enabling advanced surgical procedures, with doctors directing actions but machines ensuring perfect precision. In others, as we noted in a past article on ‘Scientists Develop a New AI Breast Cancer Diagnostic Tool’, AI is making it possible for doctors to spot disease conditions where they might not otherwise be able to.
Beyond applications like these though, there are also several ways in which AI is impacting the healthcare industry behind the scenes.
First and foremost is the gathering and analysis of data. Simply put, AI makes it possible for hospitals and broader healthcare networks to gather, organize, and make sense of virtually limitless amounts of data. And as was pointed out in an explanation of big data in healthcare by Forbes, this sort of practice enables healthcare professionals to better combat diseases. It’s one thing to track information about a given patient to handle a specific case; it’s quite another to gather vast amounts of data on all kinds of patients — including backgrounds, pre-existing conditions, habits, demographics, treatment reactions, and more. All of this data together, organized with the help of AI, can reveal valuable insights about risk factors and disease treatment of all kinds.
It’s fairly well understood that these days, AI can expedite production and manufacturing efforts. It can control production lines and guide robotic mechanisms — not to mention it’s at the core of processes like CNC machining, through which machines craft products on their own based solely on digital designs. But these benefits can be particularly relevant to a healthcare industry that’s constantly innovating with new devices. As is explained in an overview of high-tech manufacturing methods by Fictiv, processes like CNC machining and 3D printing are often used for the quick creation and assessment of prototypes. This means that new equipment and devices in healthcare — from safer medicine storage containers, to surgical tools, to prosthetics — can be rapidly prototyped and prepared for development, all thanks to AI-infused design methods. And this in turn is likely to facilitate more willingness to innovate and try new products.
Supply Chain Efficiency
Most of us tend to think of supply chains primarily as they relate to consumer products. However, the healthcare industry also depends on enormous, complex supply chains of its own. Between complex medical equipment, basic hospital supplies, medicines stocked in pharmacies, and more, there’s an immeasurable amount of material that needs to be reliably shipped and stored. So, naturally, the healthcare industry also stands to benefit from the growing role AI is playing in supply chains in general. Supply Chain Beyond examined the effects of AI and painted a fairly comprehensive picture. It looked into how AI reduces costs, provides insights that improve management, improves factory scheduling, and more. Essentially, the technology can be deployed at all levels of the supply chain to monitor performance, gather data, and bring about improvements — all in the name of helping products to get where they need to be quickly and at minimal cost to all involved.
The more direct applications of AI in healthcare get most of the attention, and can often be the most exciting developments to read about. These behind-the-scenes uses of AI are also helping to transform and modernize the industry however, and will have very positive ramifications for patients and healthcare workers alike.