ml connection to healthcare
Machine Learning

The ML Connection to Healthcare: What Roles It Plays

By
Bitstrapped
Updated
January 14, 2022

With everything from cancer diagnosis research to robotic surgery, it's no wonder that machine learning has started playing a huge role in the healthcare industry. This sector has long been a proponent of early adoption of technology, and it's usually benefitted from those advancements.

Everything from new procedures to handling data has been affected by machine learning, and it's only made the processes stronger in the process. But what else can healthcare's ML connection accomplish? What else does it stand to gain?

We're here to tell you all about it. Read on to learn everything you need to know.

Smarter Recordkeeping

With machine learning, practices can develop software that standardizes and optimizes the way patient data and records are kept. Not only can this help keep data secure, but it can help cut down on time and costs for electronic medical records.

When it comes to the human component of record keeping, there is a lot of room for error and even security problems. An effective ML model can help combat this problem.

Imaging and Diagnostics

ML models can also help doctors make more informed and accurate diagnoses. Radiologists can use these models to help differentiate between things like tumors and healthy cells and are sometimes capable of doing an even better job than a human might.

Treatment

For most diseases, the earlier you catch it the better. ML models can help do exactly that, even with the most dangerous ones. With that early detection comes a higher chance of successful treatment, and a higher chance at detecting any possible worsening of the disease.

Some models can even help make treatment decisions, and also help with surgical planning when it's needed.

What diseases can these models help detect? For at-risk patients, the most common ones are diabetes, liver and kidney diseases, and even cancer.

Drug Development

ML models are also making a huge impact in the drug development ring.

Pfizer even partnered with IBM Watson to implement an ML model to research how the body's immune system fights cancer. It does this mainly through identifying new drug targets, patient selection strategies, and also combination therapies for research in immuno-oncology.

The goal is to learn more about treating cancer, and for Pfizer to accelerate the timeframe of their development programs.

This can make a huge difference in the overall process because it helps to speed up the development while lowering the cost. That money saved means more accessibility for patients that need it.

Adaptability

With models like Somatix on the market, patients can experience close monitoring when they're sick, and they can also learn adaptability for specific habits they have. The purpose of this ML model is to track a patient's behavior and routine and then point it out to them if there are problems.

From there, it's up to the patient to learn to change the behavior, but it's a great way to bring awareness to certain things they might not have otherwise known about.

Likewise, practices could use their ML model for similar purposes — whether those behaviors are electronic or physical. This is also called data tracking, and it can help practices become more efficient and safe over the long run.

Clinical Research

It's no secret that clinical trials are lengthy and expensive. This is necessary and beneficial most of the time, but sometimes treatments need to be released as soon as possible (like with the COVID-19 vaccines).

Implementing ML models for things like this can help not only speed the process up but keep the cost relatively low — at least when it's compared with a longer, in-person trial. These models can be used to gather data points, keep track of and analyze ongoing data from trial participants, and even help select the best sample for the trial.

Further, it's very likely to reduce the risk of errors.

Epidemiology

Arguably the most prevalent use for machine learning right now, these models can be used to help predict when an epidemic or pandemic might be brewing. They work to analyze satellite data, news, social media reports, and even videos that help to predict whether or not the disease might grow out of control.

While we may not have been prepared ahead of time (much to the dismay of many experts), we're more prepared for the future.

What Are the Challenges?

While machine learning can bring a lot of positive change to the healthcare industry, it can also cause some hindrances.

The biggest is the simple mistrust that some providers feel towards it. Provider resistance can be difficult to overcome, and it's something that's difficult to convince people to trust. Even if they do trust it, not everyone wants to update their systems or take on a new learning curve.

The other big drawback of machine learning is the lack of qualified professionals. The industry needs engineers and modelers to build and, though the number is growing, there aren't always professionals available to build quality models.

The ML Connection to Healthcare Will Carry the Industry Forward

With so many technological advancements made over the last few decades, it's easy to see that the ML connection to healthcare has the potential to help move the industry forward for many years to come. From automation to accuracy, ML in the healthcare industry is a necessity for a lot of different reasons.

It's also the perfect addition to any practice — big or small — and BitStrapped can help you get started. Our team of experts is built to help you create any model you need. All you have to do is contact us to book a free 30-minute discovery call without team today or ask questions about how machine learning can help your healthcare business.

Also see our healthcare case studies: Click here.

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