Sahil is an engineer turned MBA grad and later turned to an Entrepreneur. Being from a business family, he was always interested in entrepreneurship. He started selling fitness supplements at the age of 15 to refurbished mobile devices to selling Diwali crackers to teaching students to writing content and to what now – he has done that all. He has over 10 years of corporate experience and worked at companies including Infosys, Reuters, HCL, and Genpact. He has been a mentor and keynote speaker at various International events as well.
Technology has revolutionised our world and how we live, it has made our lives easier, faster and better. Computers and smartphones are now faster, more powerful and portable. Modern technologies like AI and ML are further making these devices smarter.
Over the last few years, AI has started to play a crucial role in the development of many sectors. The healthcare sector is no different, AI in healthcare is helping practitioners in making better decisions, reach more people and be more affordable.
The pandemic has accelerated this development further. With social distancing and work from home being the new normal, we are now reliant on technology more than ever. AI technology, coupled with collection of data from sensors and analytics are transforming smartphones into complete health management systems.
The role of Artificial Intelligence in Mobile Health Apps
Here are five ways in which Artificial Intelligence (AI) is playing a crucial role in Mobile Health Apps –
1 – Better Diagnosis and Detection
AI enabled health apps can now help users with basic symptom checking. Based on what is troubling the patient, location, gender and age, these apps can give you access to medically reviewed information and physicians nearby.
With development in AI, users can identify their skin and hair conditions better. Based on retina scans, AI can also recommend whether a patient should go for treatment for more than 50 eye diseases. With the new age technology one can also read for vital signs such as heart rate, oxygen saturation and mental stress by scanning the user’s face.Today, there are apps to detect symptoms using speech, text and images. New health apps can also help in detecting skin cancer. Users take a picture from their phone’s camera. Using AI, the app conducts a scan looking for signs of cancer.
2 – Better Monitoring and Response
Many apps are available today that can monitor health information real time. They take advantage of the phone’s hardware to deliver this.There are apps that can track user’s physical activity, heart rate, deep sleep and even oxygen saturation. In the field of nutrition, there are apps that can scan food labels and share nutrition information.
Apps today can also tell about a person’s mental health based on voice recordings. AI can help screen patients for depression based on parameters such as – how fast is someone talking, variations in the tone and other signs of vocal stress.Based on all the data that is being captured, AI enabled apps can help people reach specific health goals. It can also enable faster and better response in case of an emergency.
3 – Reducing burden on healthcare system
The pandemic changed a lot of things. For example, the Indian government tweaked its policy around tele-consultation. This has enabled millions of people to get these services online anytime and from anywhere. This has saved time both for patients and the healthcare staff.
AI based assistants and chatbots are helping in reducing the burden on the already understaffed healthcare profession.
These assistants can interact with patients to keep a check on the vital signs and ask questions pertaining to their health. This information is compared with previous data and if there is risk, the assistant can even schedule an appointment with the doctor.
4 – Personalization of Services
AI algorithms are helping in providing highly personalised experiences to clients. There are apps with smart matching algorithms to connect doctors and patients based on the Doctor’s experience and patients conditions.
AI based apps are helping to provide personalized diet suggestions to people based on their past eating pattern, ideal fitness goals and lifestyle parameters.
In the field of mental health, AI based apps can monitor and improve users’ emotional health. Using psychological techniques, it can engage with users in personalized conversations. It can track the user’s mood and suggest personalized meditations.
5 – Nudge towards preventive healthcare
AI algorithms are reading sensor data to understand more about the user. This, coupled with activities users perform on the devices can then be used to nudge users to move towards healthy habits.
For example, based on your routine, an app could remind you to take your medication. If you haven’t slept enough, it can send you a push notification. If you have been sedentary long enough, it can remind you to be more active.
There are apps available today that can collect and correlate this data. For example, based on your screen time, location, outgoing calls and texts, your mood logs can determine a person’s mental health and coach them to better behavior.
AI in healthcare is already playing an important role. But, when it comes to mobile health apps, AI is in its early days. There are significant challenges that can slow down its growth and adoption.
AI depends a lot on structured historical data. The more the data, the better AI systems would be able to perform. The current state of data is not good. It is scattered in systems and across many organizations. It is incomplete, inaccurate and not standardized.
AI systems require significant investment to build, train and deploy. A significant investment and support is needed from both the public and private sector for these systems to flourish.
As these systems keep on collecting user data, where do we draw the line? It can be misused. Advertisers, search engines, credit card companies and other parties can use this data for their own benefit.
The healthcare sector has benefited from digitization. Smartphones have enabled easier data collection, processing and response.
Disruptive technologies like AI have the potential to make healthcare more accessible and affordable for people. For healthcare professionals, AI systems can help with improving the quality of service and better response time.
With a significant investment required and the lack of availability of structured data, the AI adoption journey is going to be a tough one. There is always going to be a right vs wrong batter on the user privacy front. As the devices get smarter, these issues are bound to increase.