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COVID-19 crisis can prove to be a catalyst for Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare

artificial intelligence and covid-19

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) within a span of five months, has infected around 1 million people, resulting in deaths of 50,000 people in over 180 countries around the world till date. 

The major issue right now is containing its rapid transmission and effective treatment option. Apart from these issues, governments are facing shortage of key medical equipment such as ventilators, surgical gowns, masks, coronavirus testing kits, gloves, etc.

Similarly, the major problem for the frontline healthcare worker is to determine the priority of patients treatment like which patient to treat first based upon the condition or likelihood of recovery. To protect themselves from the risk of becoming infected is another issue for healthcare workers. 

To deal with the spread and diagnosis of coronavirus, tech-companies and governments around the world are working in collaboration to use AI-based solutions to contain and mitigate its further transmission. Some of the Artificial intelligence-based solutions which are in use includes-

Interactive voice response systems and chatbots

The interactive voice response systems and chatbots are one of the most widely used tools at this time to address the growing need for the patient. These tools are in use for checking symptoms and screening people at home. Chatbot and voice response systems can handle a large number of queries within a short period of time, which would otherwise be unimaginable through manual method.

Providence St. Joseph Health System in Seattle in collaboration with Microsoft built an online screening and triage tool, the tool can identify among the patients who need urgent care from those with less life-threatening symptoms.

Similarly, The Partners HealthCare COVID-19 Screener is an automated tool that helps in assessing whether one should be evaluated for COVID-19. The tool is not for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The use of the tool is limited to the screening related to COVID-19. It provides a chat interface that presents some series of questions to the patients. Based upon the answers the tools can differentiate whether the patient is suffering from COVID-19 or from other similar diseases.

Disease transmission detection

Disease Transmission Detection application helps in determining the transmission of disease from one place to another place. The AI mapping tool uses infected person’s travel information, social gathering data, family contact’s details to get specific and pinpoint information of disease spread. This helps in mapping the spread of disease at various levels but at the same time, it risk’s the concerned patient’s personal information. 

Diagnosis of disease

Not only in preventing the further spread, the AI-based applications are also being used for detection and monitoring of the disease.  The Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has recently developed an AI system for diagnoses of COVID-19 (coronavirus). As per Alibaba, its AI based system can detect coronavirus through CT scans with around 96% of accuracy in less than 1 minute otherwise it would have taken 15 minutes. 

AI solutions can rapidly diagnose the disease in a very short period of time but have certain limitations. These applications are trained to diagnose advance infection only. It is very difficult to detect the symptoms at an early stage. Since these applications are in their early stages with improvement these devices are likely to make a significant impact on healthcare systems. 

Thermal and face recognition cameras

The thermal cameras can detect the infected person with high body temperature and medical condition. These devices can be installed in public places like airports, grocery stores, hospitals, and offices. It can help in preventing the spread of disease from one person to another. Similarly, the face detection system makes it easier for governments to monitor and track individuals movement. The risk to privacy and loss of data are the main concerns of face detection systems.

The AI solution as of now is at the infancy stage. It requires a lot of improvement and development for better monitoring and tracking of diseases such as novel coronavirus 2019. However, successful implementation of AI in healthcare requires various stakeholders, governments, industries, and citizens to be on the same page in order to leverage the optimal use of AI. 

The government requires to modernise their digital infrastructure and at the same time, it requires a lot of support from citizens to deal with the severity of the pandemic disease. The privacy and security of an individual’s personal data are the main concerns associated with AI.

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