Artificial Intelligence is radically transforming various industries like manufacturing, retail, logistics, telecom, and more, across the globe. As far as the Middle East is concerned, the potential impact of AI may reach up to benefits of USD 320 billion by 2030 .
Read more about how AI will transform the future of the Middle East in one of our previous blogs .
With AI technology advancing rapidly, its potential for healthcare sector transformation is tremendous, ranging from process automation to augmented diagnosis, faster drug development, and improving online consultation & medical training.
The Middle Eastern governments are also striving to implement the use of Artificial Intelligence along with Machine Learning and Big Data to revolutionize their healthcare industries.
For example, the million-dollar initiatives the UAE AI and Robotics Award for Good by the Dubai Future Foundation drive applicants across the globe to submit their advanced uses of AI in healthcare .
Saudi Arabia has also developed a highly integrated COVID-19 digital support system through AI/ML at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Centre (KFSH&RC) to optimize the operational response by hospitals and patient care .
However, AI/ML has a tremendous scope in revolutionizing the healthcare industry in the Middle East countries. In this blog, we will be covering the current and future applications of AI in the healthcare sector.
AI in Healthcare: Current Scenario
Drug and Vaccine Discovery
Investment in AI to speed up and synchronize the drug and vaccine discovery process (which currently takes over a decade to develop a drug successfully) is rapidly growing by more than 13.8 billion USD in 2020 .
For example, the crowdsourced initiative - COVID Moonshot by Boston-based AI Startup PostEra has established a USD260 million partnership with Pfizer to accelerate the development of Covid-19 vaccines.
Another AI-based startup Atomwise also managed to discover drugs faster for treating Ebola in 2015 in partnership with IBM.
The reason is that AI/ML helps scientists develop more effective chemical synthesis planning for drugs by learning representations of chemical molecules faster.
AI/ML has brought a connected healthcare revolution across the globe through telehealth, telemedicine, and wearable devices.
Telehealth and telemedicine have been an integral part of the middle east healthcare landscape through online consultation. The AI-based medical consultation applications provide a user-friendly and personalized interface so they can embrace the at-home hospital experience with real-life physicians without any fear.
Several AI-based telehealth applications in UAE allow chatbots to analyze the patients' symptoms and suggest whether a hospital visit is required or not by cross-referring with a vast database of diagnoses.
Such solutions allow patients to receive accurate and speedy medical assistance and also take some pressure off the healthcare providers.
Public Health Administration & Assistance
AI/ML has recently transformed the public healthcare system management and healthcare assistance administrations.
For example, AI/ML-based contact tracing apps along with capacity Planning and Analysis Systems (CPAS) installed during COVID in many countries of the USA, UK, China, and the Middle East were effective in scheduling ICU beds, equipment, staff, and tracking the virus spread in cities in the real-time.
AI-based revenue cycle management solutions like Hubble by Waystar and Practice.AI by BUDDI AI assist healthcare providers in various functions like root cause analysis, denial predictions, denial appeals, and whatnot.
AI/ML not just assists healthcare providers in internal administration and management but also supports assisted healthcare services.
For example, in UAE, AI-based tech innovator Klaim.ai enhances operation efficiency in claim management and settlement. It also provides short-term cash flow to healthcare providers.
AI-powered platform Qventus has been very effective in handling medical emergencies by suggesting the fastest route for ambulances and tracking the hospital waiting time in the USA.
AI in Healthcare: Future Applications
Since medical records have been digitalized over the past few decades, massive amounts of data have already been generated, and new data is adding up rapidly. Some reports claim that the medical report and diagnosis data are doubling by size every two years globally.
We can definitely take benefits of this data not just to enhance the efficiency of hospitals but to augment patient diagnosis, disease detection, and treatment through AI/ML.
Artificial Intelligence can filter information from doctor prescriptions, noted symptoms, references from medical journals, treatment prescribed, and more from this gigantic data.
And the Machine Learning algorithms can identify the trends from this information to derive treatment responses and risk factors for particular diseases.
This way, AI/ML does not just ensure quick diagnosis and medical treatments but also helps them make it more accurate than ever before.
Various AI-powered pilot projects are running globally to explore the application of AI/ML in disease diagnosis through medical records. For example, Google Deepmind Health is one such project running in the UK.
Also, Abu Dhabi-based G42 Healthcare is a genome sequencing program to improve the early diagnosis of cancer and other chronic diseases through AI/ML.
Medtronic is another AI-powered project to identify high-risk cardiac patients by addressing gender and race differences.
IBM, in partnership with Hardin Memorial Health (HMH), has implemented Patient Synopsis to support radiologists and augment their treatment procedures through structured patient data.
Precision medicine is one step ahead of disease diagnosis as it provides personalized healthcare treatment to each individual rather than one-size-fits-all medicine/treatment.
Through AI/ML, delivering precision medicine to patients will no longer be a head-scratching process. Currently, many companies across the globe are exploring the scope of AI/ML in providing precision medicine.
For example, the key focus area of the G42 Healthcare program in Abu Dhabi stated earlier is to deliver precision medicine for chronic diseases.
Also, other companies, including Dyno Therapeutics, Project Hanover by Microsoft, Deep Genomics, and others, are using AI-based platforms to identify potential gene therapies for rare diseases.
Safe Surgery and Rehabilitative Care
AI/ML has a vast potential in surgical risk and quality management tools in augmenting technical capabilities in medical surgeries and microsurgical treatments.
For example, AI-powered Smart Tissue Autonomous Robots developed by Maastricht University Medical Center, Netherlands, are aiding microsurgical procedures like suturing small blood vessels/ tissues.
AI/ML can also effectively aid the medical support system in long-term neurological and other chronic disorders that occupation therapies.
Predicting Disease Outbreaks
The potential of AI/ML in predicting future pandemics, infectious disease outbreaks, and endemics is immense and widely unexplored.
Currently, Metabiota by BlueDot Inc. and HealthMap Software in Boston Children's Hospital are working on predicting future pandemics through AI/ML and a range of Natural Language Processing (NLP).
AI/ML can also augment the medical training of all medical professionals, including doctors, nurses, emergency medical technicians, hospice workers, and other caregivers.
AI algorithms help create large medical scenarios, type of questions asked, previous responses given, and more to help different trainees to learn and adapt faster and more accurately.
In The End!
The future of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in the healthcare sector is promising. With appropriate training, capital investment, and policy regulation, the Middle East region has more opportunities to implement AI/ML in the healthcare industry because its population is more than ready.
In the end, the undeniable wave of change is coming in the Middle Eastern Healthcare sector, whether you accept it or not, so the best one can do is adopt the earliest to face the change without any challenge!