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In the past few months, we might have been bombarded with the numerous possibilities of AI and AI based tools. Non-technical people might have become overwhelmed with the information available now on AI. AI was all over media and in every household, everyone talked at least once about AI in the past few months. But now the media hype is slowing down while the market is still taking advantage of the term AI to distinguish every product from its competitors or to get more funding. And there have been a lot of inventions by many making great use of AI tools like ChatGPT, Midjourney, Copilot, etc. Some have gone to market as a separate entity while some were just fun tools. Some individuals even took advantage of the possibilities to earn some passive income by creating content and books. Even a report by BCG shows that individuals who used AI tools performed better and produced better quality work. These stories simply indicate that AI based tools have become a part of our society and are here to stay to enhance the productivity of many. And in this newsletter, we are exploring a need of society that can be addressed comparatively easier with the help of AI than with any reforms of policies or strategies, to help solve the healthcare crisis of our world.
Challenges of healthcare systems in developed countries
Since access to healthcare varies from country to country, not everyone might understand the need for such a tool. When looking at the global healthcare systems the affordability, accessibility and availability of healthcare services and professionals varies greatly from region to region. Even though a developed nation like Germany has an advanced social healthcare system, it still faces shortage of healthcare professionals. Patients are of the opinion that they might at times not get enough time to speak with their physicians. But physicians are of the opinion that they could not spend any more time with each patient as they are fully packed. We believe that this is a scenario where AI could play a great role in easing the constraints. When clinical or hospital facilities makes use of a simple tablet with an AI tools that support physicians, these tools could listen to the history of the patients, ask them further questions based on medical knowledge, get clearer and wider picture not just about the condition but also about their history, and create a complete image about the patient, by taking a lot more time that a physician could not provide. The tool could then make use of its findings to create short and precise descriptions of the conditions, symptoms, and history as a note for the physician to review and diagnose further in the least possible time. This saves not just time but the life of the patient as the tool reduces the possibility of a false diagnosis without assessing past events. The lack of time and further misdiagnosis has happened in the past in an advanced country like Germany.
As an example of a tool such as one described above is a platform named Eleos health. It is used by mental health providers to track conversations with patients and analyze the results of the sessions using AI. This idea and technology can be adapted for other use cases as well.
Now diving deeper into the mental aspect of healthcare in developed countries, AI could help with mental healthcare at a fraction of the cost as well. It has been proven to be effective especially in the case of refugees, for whom such resources can be truly inaccessible even though a necessity. Thanks to the great hearts of world leaders and the wonderful citizens, many are accommodated in a better situation than they were in, but the trauma they carry within them can be huge. This could be the memories of their homes or the dangers they fled from or even the anxiety about the future of their lives and their kids. This might require the intervention of psychologists and a few therapy sessions, for them to lead a normal life. But in such situations even though the governments continuously take and improve many measures to take proper care of their physical health, mental health still is a huge challenge. But a simple application called Karim, that can be run on mobile phones could help refugees with bad access to mental healthcare calm their inner selves. With the help of AI, this tool can interact with them, analyze their emotional problems, and even provide recommendations and comments that help them improve their mental health. This can also be further adapted for the care of senior citizens, who are the most vulnerable to being lonely and isolated.
Worsening healthcare structures of developing world
Even though there are many more aspects to explore in developed nations, let us investigate the situation of developing countries such as India, there are at times no access to a specialist or eve a physician at all. With almost 2/3rd of the population of the most populous country in the world living in rural areas, this is a crisis of its own. They mostly have access to simple primary healthcare centers, where a healthcare worker investigates the case of the patient and could either refer for further inspections by a physician, which costs a few more critical hours to access or at most times they might be treated for the symptom rather than the cause due to the lack of an expert. This is another kind of situation that could be solved at the earliest with the least possible investments. A tool like MedPalm2 that is trained specifically on medical science literatures can help to improve such situations at no costs compared to employing a physician in such remote areas, which could even be impossible. India is a country with lot of mobile users and cheap internet providers. Making use of this advantage, a device with internet connectivity can make use of the power of AI to help assess the situation better and use its knowledgebase to diagnose the patient like a support system. This can even be improved by leveraging the capabilities of telemedicine and the involvement of physicians across the globe, who could simply approve the diagnosis just by reading the notes and the diagnosis by the AI tool. Even though such advancements require further investments and connectivity, the first phase of this tool is easily implementable even today.
Similarly in developing countries another major crisis is the availability of specialists. Medical specialists such as radiologists are scarce in some regions of developing nations due to the low wages and lower living standards. Even though the nations provide environments for educating and nurturing such professionals, the high demand and higher living standards of developed nations lure these professionals from developing nations. In some cases, there are no professionals available for diagnosis even though there is equipment available. At MI4People, we are already working on an open-source AI solution to such a problem. We aim to deliver a system where radiographs can be analyzed by AI to provide insights on observed anomalies to help physicians make a right diagnosis without the actual need for radiologists. The system is trained by using various radiographs with the exact diagnosis from an actual radiologist. Thereby, this system would be equipped to analyze a radiograph in regions where a radiologist is not easily accessible and will help improve healthcare system in these regions and save human lives. Hence a typical physician is also equipped with the skills of a radiologist and this aids in quicker decision making. This would still never replace an actual radiologist as the expertise of the radiologist can outweigh that of machines and because human to human interaction is still important for diagnosis. But it can help better the current situation with the shortage of radiologists in developing countries.
Improving personal healthcare with AI.
Another great use of AI is as a symptom tracker, no matter if we live in a developed or a developing nation, the need to keep track and assess our personal health is of utmost priority. Even though we have accessibility to the healthcare system, sometimes we just ignore the signs our body shows as mere results of our work and tough days. As a non-medical professional, we might be unaware of those signs. But when diagnosed with certain condition at a later stage, we start to recall these symptoms that our body has developed. It is in such situations that a healthcare companion plays a crucial role. As we record the symptoms, they could assess our situation and provide us suggestions to visit physicians and notify them about our condition that may seem irrelevant. There are tools like Ada health that help in such a situation with the use of AI to detect certain diseases early on to prevent escalation as well as prompt timely treatment. This saves not just time but the hardships someone could encounter.
AI can not only be a symptom tracker, but personalized diet coach, lifestyle improvement coach, personal trainer, personal druggist, and an overall personal healthcare assistant. Many more such products would be available sooner on the market. But it is always the responsibility of the developers behind the project to always work with an ethical mindset as it concerns the health and life of a person. Therefore, the regulatory bodies must also prepare themselves for implementing reasonable regulations regarding such organizations. The need for such organizations is not to slow down development but to safeguard the usage of such knowledge. Rather than classifying them as mere tools, these must be tested and licensed based on individual knowledgebase. Such a licensing evaluation could improve the responsibility of the developers to use better data to train or better models to create outputs. This suggestion is based on the past news of the downfall of Babylon health, who were pioneers in AI based healthcare technology in UK.
Accessibility to healthcare with AI
Healthcare all over the world is facing great crises due to the growing old population and the lack of new talents to replace them. This growing concern can only be resolved by leveraging the strengths of AI. We believe, with the help of AI and the use of telemedicine there can be a lot more physicians willing to help. Some might have retired from their active duty due to age but may still be capable of decision making or some might have taken a break from their service due to the high stress environment but can still contribute by training such AI models. They could be connected and integrated into the system to improve healthcare across the globe with the assistance from AI. As the availability of physicians varies greatly from country to country, a global AI platform could level the needs by allocating physicians digitally, enabling them to work from their comfort at their own freedom, while saving lives across the globe.
We at MI4People believe that these solutions would be available sooner to every nook and corner of the world. We would also be more than happy to work on such global solutions alongside visionary organizations and government bodies to deliver the best potential of AI for humanity. We have been always supported by such organizations and generous donors throughout our journey. And this time we are more than happy to announce that it is with great support from Deutsche Stiftung für Engagement und Ehrenamt, that we are working on delivering our podcast to educate others on the potential of AI for good soon in the coming months. We are also grateful to them for providing us with funds to hire an employee to lead our projects. We would also like to share our happiness in being recognized as a part of the KI Bundesverband, which would enable us to work with great teams and deliver even more. Our work has always been supported by great minds like you, that has enabled us to be where we are now. This would not have been possible without the support of all our generous donors, ambassadors, volunteers, and all other supporters. We understand that it is our duty to deliver to this wonderful community the best possible solutions of AI for good. And we promise to work harder with your support to help humanity with its most needy problems with the great solutions that AI can provide. Thanking you all once again for supporting us along this journey, and we hope to hold your hands all along till our goals of AI for good are met.
Wishing you a wonderful day
Your MI4People Team