The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting will be held in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland between 21 and 24 January. Seven themes, including “Tech for Good” will be widely discussed at this yearly gather. In lieu of the event, Carla Kriwet, Chief Executive Officer, Connected Care and Health Information at Royal Philips, wrote an op-ed on the organization’s website, to highlight three ways in which medicine would change in the next decade because of artificial intelligence (AI).

Prevention is better than cure

Kriwet believes predictive analytics driven by AI will allow us to have a better insight into the factors that are affecting our health. Our focus will not be centered around diseases but also our environment, activities, habits, food consumptions, or what the World Health Organization (WHO) called “the social determinants of health”. In a decade’s time, it will be harder to spot a queue of patients outside hospitals and clinics during an epidemic season because the healthcare system is able to anticipate who are at a higher risk of catching what disease before its onset. Preventive measures are also taken to help those who may develop chronic conditions like diabetes and congestive heart failure.

A connected healthcare

As a result of successful preventive care, Kriwet wrote hospitals in the year 2030 will only admit patients who are critically ill or require extremely complex medical interventions. The less life-threatening cases will be handled by local medical hubs, specialist clinics, surgery centers or even at home. These venues will be digitally facilitated and “glued together” via centralized command centers. AI will be used to identify patients who are at risk of worsening. In short, Kriwet said connected health will become a reality, especially after “years of immense pressure on global healthcare systems without enough skilled medical professionals to care for their rapidly growing and ageing populations”.

More satisfied patient and staff experiences

In general, AI will minimize patients’ wait time, enhance medical professionals’ workflow and assume the overall administrative burden. This, according to Kriwet, will permit more satisfying medical experiences for patients and help them to recover quicker and better. On the other hand, less clinicians will suffer from burnout and they can divert their resources and attention back to patients. The adaptive nature of AI also signifies that each patient and staff experience can be personalized and attained cost-effectively.

A long and intricate journey ahead

In spite of the positive forecast, Kriwet thought “we’re still a long way from achieving this vision”. There are clear signs that we are on the right path, as seen in the use of AI to optimize patient flow in emergency care; to detect cancerous lesions on images, and saving lives in intensive care units. Kriwet urged policymakers, health institutions and private companies to come together, establish common goals to ensure “AI systems are fully interoperable and transparent and prevent bias and inequality”.

“I believe we must keep in mind that AI’s most powerful use is to enhance human capabilities, not replace them. The heart of connected care isn’t new technology, it’s people” Kriwet concluded.


Author Bio

Hazel Tang A science writer with data background and an interest in the current affair, culture, and arts; a no-med from an (almost) all-med family. Follow on Twitter.