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Believe it or not, the artificial intelligence market for healthcare is expected to exceed more than $35 billion by the middle of next year. In fact, recent studies have shown that more and more healthcare procedures are transforming due to automation and this is especially true when it comes to clinical trials.
At the same time, none of this should be of any surprise and automation in general is widely accepted as being the future of every industry. More specifically, automation offers many benefits and it’s rather easy to see why this AI is so important to the future of healthcare and clinical trials in particular.
For example, digital records are much more efficient than paper-based reports and even storing these files is made a lot easier with automated systems. What’s more, automation is known to produce better insights into certain clinical matters, and certainly a lot faster than through any human-related process.
Now, that’s not to say AI is beneficial to clinical trials alone but rather to highlight the reason for so much demand in terms of automated systems in the healthcare industry. In this article, I wanted to talk about these reasons and explain how AI will end up saving billions of dollars for the healthcare industry.
Traditional research and development for clinical trials is a rather expensive process. As a rule, the cost of phase two clinical trials can be anywhere between $7 million and $20 million, while the average cost of phase three can surpass as much as $52 million. As if that’s not enough, these development costs continue to increase during the time is takes to release a drug onto the market and regulatory approval is just one of any factors that can hold things up even further.
Anyway, I think we can all agree that the time and cost of research and development is extremely high.
For this reason, we can understand the attraction of artificial intelligence in the healthcare industry and why so much impetus is being placed on cost savings. That is to say, the pharma and biotech industries is increasingly interested in using AI to redefine how scientists are research and developing new drugs. In fact, according to Adobe, clinical health applications can save the U.S economy more than $150 billion per year and more than 60% of companies are already using AI as part of their innovation strategy.
At the same time, in order to know the true value of artificial intelligence to clinical trials, we must fully understand the role of AI itself. After all, there is no specific definition for AI.
Artificial intelligence refers to technology that can resemble and replicate processes that we most often associate with humans. When we think of these processes, we think about learning, adapting and understanding. However, the easiest way to describe this technology is that is can “act like a human”.
Artificial intelligence also comes in many forms and draws on certain tools or principles like biology, logic and math. Through machine learning, these technologies can often make sense of complex problems or data and follow instructions to produce extremely accurate results. While most modern applications are still relatively basic and only able to take care of very specific tasks, recent advances have enabled AI to learn from data and even create new experiences based on exiting trends or patterns.
Moral of the story: There is every reason to embrace AI and no good reason to ignore it.
But what does this actually look like?
As you may know, many major technology companies such as Microsoft, Google and IBM have collaborated with top universities to learn more about artificial intelligence. For example, the IBM Watson Care Manager is a cost effective system to allocate resources in the UK health services. Simply put, this application matches individuals with specific plans or providers and offers insights based on past data and pre-written instructions.
Although the application was rolled out to streamline the patient experience, the lack of customer service or human interaction is inevitably a lot more cost effective. On top of that, certain hospitals in the UK are now using this same platform to create a “cognitive hospital” in which an application will facilitate all patient interactions.
On the other hand, Novartis is another pharmaceutical company which has fully embraced the power of artificial intelligence. In a recent article about the role of AI in Pharma, Digital Authority Partners outlined how Novartis is using machine learning to extract data from experimental compounds and then providing this data to researchers in order to leverage their insights.
As you know, drug discovery takes a very long time to test or identify relevant compounds and machine learning can analyze and process this information a lot faster than any conventional method. Needless to say, this also saves the company from the costs associated with manual labor and operational expenses.
As already mentioned, this is not simply a process for research and development in the healthcare industry and automation is on the rise across every industry. However, the impact of AI is different in every instance and the benefits are extremely clear for the pharma industry in the age of intelligence.
Artificial intelligence can improve clinical trials and be used to detect disease, deliver health services and even discover drugs. It might also be limited to certain tasks but the scale and speed of AI is far superior to any system that relies solely on human activity. In many ways, this will be the key challenge going forward as we are yet to experience a level of AI that can function entirely without human interaction.
In other words, healthcare companies will need to stimulate and drive motivation, while finding a balanced system that is both useful and transparent with the interests of the public.
Interested in learning more about healthcare companies that are currently leveraging artificial intelligence? Check out our list of most promising healthcare startups in 2019 or our podcast episode ‘Can AI help Americans manage & beat cancer? Interview with Helpsy’s CEO Sangeeta Agarwal’