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In recent years, health care has been one of the top targets for A.I. companies. They have been developing services to improve and transform health care delivery.

Health care managers in the Middle East believe that A.I. will be helpful in addressing insufficiencies of care delivery. However, they also want to see reliable outcomes before making any investments in A.I. As valid as the concern is, there are applications in the market already transforming health care delivery.

Here are five applications of A.I. that are currently available for decision makers in health care to transform their business:

Faster and more accurate image diagnostics

A radiologist’s daily life consists of examining images and creating reports based on findings. There are solutions in the market which can help them create more accurate and faster reports, increasing efficiency and decreasing cost per patient. According to recent reports, it is possible to decrease time spent on a complete radiology report by up to 47 per cent and increase accuracy by 50 per cent compared to expert radiologists.

A.I. is able to process the medical images at a much higher resolution than its human counterparts. Furthermore, it has the ability to compare new images with millions of previous images that are already matched with diseases.

Virtual assistants: Primary point of contact for patients

Virtual assistants have started to become the primary interface with customers in many industries ... and health care is not an exception. Mobile apps offer virtual assistants for patients as a first point of contact. Chatbots interview patients to understand their symptoms and give recommendations on how to proceed.

These apps have access to previous health related information specific to the person including chronic diseases, medications used and diet. For example, if a patient asks a chatbot system about stomach pain, the app can check if stomach pain is listed as a side effect of the patient’s current medications before making a recommendation.

Depending on the severity of the case, a chatbot might advise the patient to change their diet or seek a consultation from the right specialist. It can even arrange a convenient tele-consultation for the patient. The widespread use of virtual assistants will streamline the patient flow and increase overall efficiency of the health care sector.

Increased health care quality through risk assessment

There are solutions in the market which enable doctors to be aware of the risks associated with most critical diseases. Risk profiles are provided based on comparisons of patient data with millions of previous patient records. Early warnings to doctors based on patient risk profiles have the potential to reduce readmission rates significantly.

Such a service integrated into a hospital system would provide risk assessments of the 20 most common fatal diseases (heart attack, diabetes, kidney failure, etc) for each patient. Any doctor seeing the patient would be able to see the risk profile associated with each of the diseases. Such systems can help and warn doctors about any risk factor considerations, and reduces the chance o of missing an important indicator on time.

Better medicine selection process

Selection of medicine alternatives is mostly an overlooked process in health care. A.I. allows health care professionals to make a comparison between adverse effect risks of alternatives and promotes an analytical approach to medicine selection.

Companies analyse patient DNA and estimate a possibility for the manifestation of adverse effects. Although this practice requires the patients’ initiative and is only available for common medications like painkillers and antibiotics, doctors can avail the results as a way to personalise the medicine selection process and decrease the risks of adverse side effects.

Personalised wellness packages for prevention

Health care players and regulators are becoming increasingly aware that health care is just as important for promoting wellness as it is for treating sickness. A.I.’s role in wellness ranges from finding the most suitable exercise types and nutrition plans, to creating risk profiles for individuals. Wellness packages are already provided by health care players to provide end to end support to patients, and the utilisation of AI is here to make it more personalised and affective.

A.I. is still in its infancy and requires big data to work in most cases, which can be a bottleneck in the health care industry due to privacy constraints. However, it is important for decision-makers to understand that A.I. is already available for their disposal and the first movers are likely to get the benefits.

Proven and practical results are expected to incentivise decision-makers to assess and develop a strategy on how they can leverage these opportunities in health care.

The writer is Partner, Healthcare Strategy, PwC Middle East.