Health IT

Past the hype, what can AI accomplish in healthcare?

Artificial intelligence is a white-hot buzzword. But amidst the hullabaloo, what can it actually achieve in the world of healthcare? Before weighing in on the topic at MedCity INVEST in May, experts from IDx, Arterys and AiCure share their thoughts.

Artificial intelligence is currently a white-hot buzzword in healthcare. Both in everyday conversations and in large context settings like HIMSS, the term is guaranteed to generate interest.

But what can it actually achieve in the world of healthcare? This question will be a topic of discussion at the upcoming MedCity INVEST conference in Chicago.

IDx chairman and CEO Gary Seamans, who will be speaking at the event, commented on the popular nature of the technology.

“Where I believe it is overhyped is there’s such disparity about what AI can really do, what it can’t do and what it’s best at doing,” he said in a phone interview. Seamans added that using AI for medical diagnosis is one area that may be overhyped. “On the other hand, I believe the usefulness of autonomous AI is probably underhyped and not clearly understood well enough,” he said.

The Iowa City, Iowa-based company harnesses artificial intelligence to detect eye disease from retinal images. Its products have not yet been approved by the FDA, but last month, IDx revealed that it submitted an application to the FDA, which the agency accepted with a “breakthrough device” designation.

Attend MedCity INVEST to hear from healthcare innovators like Gary Seamans, Fabien Beckers, Michelle Marlborough and other experts. Use promo code MCN50 to save $50. Register now.

Fabien Beckers, cofounder and CEO of Arterys, will also be speaking at INVEST. The company brings AI capabilities to clinicians.

“We use deep learning to make volumetric measurement quick, consistent and accurate, and to track disease over time far more easily than before,” Carla Leibowitz, Arterys’ head of corporate development, said via email. “We are also working on products to detect disease, as well as others that will help clinicians gain more context on similar cases from large databases.”

Last month, the company gained FDA clearance for its Arterys Oncology AI suite, marking its fifth 501(k) clearance from the agency.

New York City-based AiCure is leveraging artificial intelligence in a different manner.

“What we are doing at AiCure is using computer vision or visual recognition (technology which allows computers or smartphones to see) to provide a platform to automate components of the nurse’s interaction with the patient, beyond the doctor’s office,” Michelle Marlborough, the company’s chief product officer, said in an email. She will be on the panel at INVEST as well.

Despite these companies’ advancements in the field, the question remains: What can AI accomplish?

Seamans highlighted the ability of the technology to complete “repetitive, defined tasks” where it can be trained based on factual data. “AI does not create. AI does not innovate. It processes,” he said. And it’s crucial that the information being processed is accurate.

Marlborough noted that AI can help gather and disperse knowledge. It can also assist nurses, insofar as automating administrative work.

“For AI in healthcare specifically, we will need to make the black box algorithms meaningful through clinical validation,” she said. “Algorithms by themselves can otherwise seem nonsensical even if they have high statistical reliability. At the end of the day, we are human beings and we need to make sure we understand how these amazing tools will help us get better.”

Photo: chombosan, Getty Images