Will AI Make Its Way into Healthcare?

07 March 2018

Lab Chat

No longer are advancing tech techniques simply for shopping and streaming music. Instead, they can now help with health and well-being. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), significant funding is being put into artificial intelligence (AI) for healthcare purposes. Will this be a big step forward for medicine? Or, are things starting to look too futuristic?

Funding and forums for AI

Alongside technological advancements, there is a monumental shift in the healthcare landscape. The UAE’s minister of state for AI, Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, recognises this shift and has said the responsiveness of the government has made it a world leader in this field.

 

The desire to be part of forward-thinking medicine comes after $1.79 billion was spent on AI-funding in February 2017. This dominance continued in the Dubai Health Forum held in January 2018. With “ambitious strategic goals” the aim of the forum was to showcase innovative digital and technological solutions for individual healthcare. Experts, scientists, researchers and doctors all attended the event.

On the agenda was the use of AI and digital medicine in genomics and gene coding. These topics are worldwide issues, with engineers recently launching a handheld device that’s capable of sequencing the human genome. These advancements are part of a global effort to improve personalised medicine.

Do the public trust AI?

Just because AI could medically help, does it mean the public are ready for it? According to research conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), 50% of UAE respondents would be willing to allow a robot to perform a minor surgery. When compared to other parts of the world, it certainly shows that the UAE are happy to embrace the potential future of medicine.

According to the survey, people would also allow AI to monitor their hearts, give them customised health and fitness advice and have their blood taken. These are just some of the possible procedures AI could help with or even take over. It could solve medical shortages and conceivably produce more accurate diagnostic results.

Where could AI be in the future?

However, there are still concerns about the lack of empathy with AI machines and what is the right way to regulate this modern phenomenon. Potential job losses in the healthcare sector has also been raised as an issue – particularly amongst more skilled doctors and nurses.

Looking to the future, Director-General of Dubai Health Authority, Humaid Al Qattami, has said that AI-funding, forums and government efforts are to attract more that 500,000 health tourists by 2020. This will help accommodate more medical tourism and allow the UAE to emerge as digital savvy nation.

 

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