By Emma Okonji
The African ICT Foundation (AFICTF) has advocated that artificial learning and machine language will change the future by improving treatment design, fine tuning diagnosis and improving accuracy and speed of detection, improving clinical administration, patient experience and general human life.
The Foundation made its position known in a paper presented at the annual seminar of the Lagos University Medical Society, hosted by the Faculty of Pharmacy of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, with the theme: Artificial Intelligence in Health, designed to inform the members of the profession about latest technology advancement in health care.
A member of the Board of Trustees of the Foundation, Mr. Oludare Akinbo, who spoke on the topic: ‘AI in Medical Practice-Future of Healthcare’, noted that media attention had largely centred on the ability of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML) to transform how clinical care is delivered through better diagnostics and treatments.
He disclosed that there were 121 digital health companies leveraging AI/ML and have raised a total of $2.7 billion with 206 deals from 2011 through 2017, which just over 10 per cent of all venture dollars invested in digital health during that period.
He said funding for AI/ML companies peaked in 2016 at $776.4 million representing nearly one-third of total funding to AI/ML companies since 2011.
Citing a 2016 report from CB Insights, Akinbo said about 86 per cent of healthcare provider organisations, life science companies, and technology vendors to healthcare are using artificial intelligence technology, adding that by 2020, these organisations will spend an average of $54 million on artificial intelligence projects.
Akinbo stated further that many AI technologies were cropping up to help people streamline administrative and clinical health care processes.
“Various professionals and reports predict that artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) will diagnose disease better and earlier, treat illness more precisely, and engage patients more efficiently than today’s healthcare system does. On top of this, AI/ML is expected to streamline business operations and restore sanity to the clinician experience”, he said.
He also noted that the major technology giants have ventured into healthcare and thus already changing the future of healthcare and promising more radical changes for the better in the nearest future.
On why the health care providers need to embrace technology, particularly, machine learning, Akinbo stressed that “machine learning undoubtedly helps people to work more creatively and efficiently. Basically, you too can delegate quite complex or monotonous work to the computer through Machine Learning-starting with scanning, saving and filing paper documents such as invoices up to organizing and editing images.”
He noted that the Foundation supports initiative that deploys ICT solve healthcare problems in Africa. He listed 10 ways AI is changing healthcare now and will in the future to include: Managing Medical Records and Other Data, Doing Repetitive Jobs, Treatment Design, Digital Consultation Apps, Virtual Nurses, Medication Management, Drug Creation, Precision Medicine, Health Monitoring and Healthcare System Analysis.