AI IS ALL ABOUT MODERNIZATION, taking existing ways of working and rethinking them through the smart application of technology. A great example of this is the way that AI is being used to rethink patient communication, ultimately providing more support and improving outcomes.
Equadex has done just this by using an AI tool to facilitate conversations between people on the autism spectrum who are nonverbal or who have language difficulties and who struggle to communicate with their friends and family. Without AI, the default approach would require families to meet with an attendant who’d use a physical binder carrying pictogram cards to encourage communication. Helpitco™, the app solution that Equadex came up with, contains a whole database of pictograms and includes the ability for users to convert spoken text into a series of images. They also plan to expand the technology to help nonverbal children and adults with other underlying medical conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.
AI also powers chat bots, which are effectively an automated, modernized version of support that can work well as a first point of contact for simple questions. Even voice assistants could have their place in the hospitals of the future, providing signposting around buildings and even just helping surgeons to play music and to access information in the middle of lengthy operations.
Then there are the benefits when it comes to manufacturing, and pharmaceutical companies are no different. Cloud-based systems can offer up real-time and predictive analytics that track every aspect of production and which can be accessed from any device with an internet connection. Many of these systems also use AI to power proactive suggestions which are designed to streamline supply chains and production processes.
And then there’s maintenance and repairs. Even with all of the checklists in the world, human beings are fallible and often forget to carry out routine maintenance or simply don’t have the time for it. AI is even being used by elevator manufacturers ThyssenKrupp to develop hundreds of error codes that tell maintenance teams exactly what maintenance needs to be carried out on any given elevator. This technology could come in useful for bigger, multistory hospitals, but the same concepts can also be carried out elsewhere.
Perhaps most importantly of all, AI is great at filtering through huge amounts of data to identify the most relevant messages for any given use case. Pharmaceutical companies can tap into this and the huge amount of chatter that’s posted on social networks to monitor the performance of their drugs after they’ve received FDA approval and gone on general sale. Any adverse effects can be noted and drugs can be continually evaluated to monitor their efficacy over time.
AI isn’t just about streamlining treatments and ironing out inefficiencies in the healthcare industry. It also has some exciting potential uses when it comes to rehabilitation, whether that’s by powering chat bots that can help to take care of the elderly or whether that’s by offering new types of software that are specifically designed for certain types of patient.
For example, the Evening Standard recently reported on a life-changing AI treatment in which artificial intelligence was used to help a graphic designer with Parkinson’s to draw again. At the age of 29 years old, Emma Lawton was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, and as her tremors grew more pronounced, she found it more and more difficult to do her work. “I was relying on colleagues to help with sketches,” she explained, “which was frustrating as a designer. I never thought it would be able to be fixed. I resigned myself to the fact that it wouldn’t get better. After all, there had been no new medicines for years. I never expected to be able to draw again. It was a pretty mammoth task…to be able to write.”