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Artificial intelligence – Changing the role of medical devices in patient care

Artificial intelligence – Changing the role of medical devices in patient care
Partha Marella - Senior Vice President | March 13, 2019
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WHAT’S DIFFERENT ABOUT DIGITAL IN MEDICAL DEVICES?

Traditionally, medical devices were restricted to giving a certain set of outputs for a complimentary set of inputs, which would be used as information by doctors to make decisions. The accuracy of decisions would be purely at the professional’s discretion.

But as healthcare becomes more specialized and complex, quality and attention to detail is struggling to keep up with patient requirements.

The key to bridging this gap lies in medical technology (Medtech) and how AI, IoT and Analytics can be used to enhance the scope of traditional devices used by both healthcare professionals as well as patients.

With intelligence powering Medtech, decision making becomes more certain, preventive care is more achievable, and patient centricity is front and center.

With intelligence powering Medtech, decision making becomes more certain and preventive care is more achievable.

It is no longer just healthcare organizations who are responsible in improving patient treatment. Smart and connected Devices armed with cognitive capabilities, is enabling better patient outcomes, shifting the focus to technology providers and manufacturers.

FORCES PUSHING FOR AI IN MEDTECH

Artificial Intelligence is currently at the heart of digital technology. Artificial intelligence in medicine has emerged as one of the most important tools for progression of the Healthcare industry. Several forces have come together in developing AI as a necessity in MedTech:

Force 1: Healthcare professionals- Two great benefits of Artificial intelligence are accuracy and speed. While medical devices were previously result oriented, AI in healthcare enables them to provide better and faster analysis from highly complex information.

The ability to provide medical and healthcare professionals almost perfect accuracy makes it much easier for them to take the right calls in tough situations, while also freeing up bandwidth for more important cases.

An example of this is the advancement in medical imaging through AI. CT scans can be a challenge at times for doctors to analyze accurately, but AI powered algorithms can now help capture even small patterns of information indicating organ damage that would usually be difficult to spot for even the most experienced professionals.

Surgery is also a field that will greatly benefit from Intelligence. Recovery from surgery is a difficult task for both patients and surgeons, and monitoring vitals post-surgery is a constant process.

Using intelligence on pre and post-surgery data can help with tracking vital signs. Complimented by comparative patient analytics, necessary intervention by healthcare professionals can be taken at the right time.

This provides both patients and the hospital better outcome in terms of recovery time and cost borne. AI powered medical devices are paving the path for a highly effective healthcare system.

Force 2: Self-care

Fitness and health have become an increasingly important trend leading to an increased interest in self-care and preventive measures. Patients want greater control over their treatment and conditioning and this puts emphasis to home-care.

Devices need re-designing to create a solution for the above need. The enabler for this will be AI and other digital technologies.

This type of care is possible through the integration of AI and cognitive capabilities with medical devices. Cloud connectivity, real-time analytics and smart sensors allow devices to perform several tasks like remote monitoring, or biometric indicator tracking that aid patient care greatly.

Because this information Is also easily accessible to physicians, they can take preemptive action whenever required.

With AI enabled medical devices, patients and care-givers are more in control of situations concerning the patient’s health. In addition to healthcare providers, AI powered Medical devices are witnessing a growing demand from the home-care/self-care segment as well.

Force 3: Medical Devices Manufacturers

With the homecare/self-care market for AI-powered medical devices growing, and healthcare organizations seeking to transform rapidly, medical device manufactures need to explore new avenues and consolidate existing ones to grow their business.

This means, creating new services and solutions using smart, intelligent technologies, which will help them address these markets while being able to have significant impact on patient-care.

With the rising number of technology companies looking to offer solutions over a wide range of healthcare requirements, competition is fierce, and differentiation is table stakes. Therefore, traditional OEMs must look at collaboration with new-age technology companies to integrate and implement AI in products to stay ahead of competition, while addressing the current market needs.

Force 4. Insurance providers

Medical device manufacturers are also responsible for ensuring proper functioning of the device.

Here is where insurance companies also play a part in covering liabilities. This can become a problem when certain devices like surgical kits are vulnerable to contamination with no way of confirmation.

But if these devices are connected then it becomes easier to track and ensure that sterilization of the equipment has not been compromised.

There is no more ambiguity when it comes to claim amounts for insurance companies. Hospitals can keep an excellent track of inventory and place orders according to requirement. The medical device industry can save field visit costs while ensuring there is a significant increase in device uptime.

All these advantages are secured with the simple integration of AI in healthcare and other smart technologies that allow medical devices to do more for all the stakeholders in a care-lifecycle.

POSSIBLE ROADBLOCKS

Technology integration in medical devices is not the most straightforward process. The right infrastructure and technology model needs to be in place for the product to be a success.

Developing expertise in-house is tedious and expensive because of the scarcity of skilled talent in specific areas of healthcare technology.

Partnership with new age technology companies provides the best course of action for OEMs to accelerate their product and platform engineering. It provides the dual advantage of speed and GTM experience.

Ensuring security of patient data while being compliant with regulations such as HIPPA is a huge concern. With many sensors and data flows, creating the right security measures is a big challenge for the medical device industry/manufacturers.

While developing the product is the first step, implementation is a much tougher hill to climb. Here is where domain experience and the right testing environment will play a crucial role in ensuring the product is a success.

Innovation through collaboration between all stakeholders involved in the development and application of medical devices will be pivotal to the advancement of patientcare.

References:

What Doctor? – Why AI and Robotics will define new health – PwC

http://www.un.org/en/sections/issues-depth/ageing/index.html

Global Medical Device Market Outlook,2018 - Frost and Sullivan

https://voicebot.ai/2018/03/26/fda-approves-medtronics-ai-powered-continuous-glucose-monitor/

https://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/artificial-intelligence-powers-ge-healthcares-next-gen-ultrasound-system

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