Artificial intelligence, AI, is a growing field that is expected to have great importance in healthcare and the life science sector. Already today, several AI systems facilitate for both patients and healthcare professionals, as well as save lives through better diagnostics and treatment. AI can also be used in the administration and development of new drugs. As research advances rapidly, more application areas will be added. BioStock lists a number of companies that are active in the AI field.
Artificial intelligence, AI, refers to a computer system’s ability to mimic human intelligence in problem-solving and decision-making. Today, there are AI algorithms that can solve complex problems much faster, better, and safer than humans. The most discussed AI technology right now is probably ChatGPT which can answer questions and generate text using AI.
Large amounts of data are often used to train and improve the algorithm, which is called machine learning. In healthcare, there are huge amounts of data that can be used for the development of AI tools.
Many use cases in healthcare
AI is increasingly used in healthcare in for example diagnostics and detection of diseases at an early stage, as well as the prediction of disease prognosis and future risks. AI can also be used in medical decision-making, for example by providing treatment recommendations based on diagnosis and other patient data. In addition, AI can be used for care bed allocation, triage and other types of administration.
Thus, AI can improve efficiency and reduce the workload for healthcare professionals, while providing more qualitative and cost-effective care. However, the goal is not to replace the doctors completely, but rather support them and free up time for other things.
Image analysis is a growing area of AI
Medical image analysis is a major field in AI where it helps with reading X-rays, ultrasounds and images of skin. An example of a company using AI in medical imaging is Linköping-based Sectra which has developed tools within X-rays, pathology and cardiology. Sectra is part of AIDA (Analytic Imaging Diagnostics Arena), which is a national, interdisciplinary collaboration for research and innovation on AI for medical image analysis.
CellaVision also uses image analysis technology and AI in their laboratory system for the analysis of blood and other body fluids.
Increased accuracy in breast cancer diagnosis
Another image analysis area that is being extensively researched is using AI in mammography to increase the accuracy of breast cancer diagnostics. Possibly, AI could complement, or even replace, today’s radiologists who review mammograms in breast cancer screening.
In addition, a research group at Lund University has developed an AI tool for accessible and cost-effective diagnostics of breast cancer in low- and middle-income countries. All it takes is a pocket ultrasound, a smartphone and the researchers’ AI algorithm that has been trained on thousands of ultrasound images to detect breast cancer.
Companies that use AI in drug development
Today, there are also companies that use AI to discover and develop new drugs. One of them is Evaxion Biotech, which has developed an AI technology that decodes the human immune system to discover and develop individualised immunotherapies for cancer.
Cline Scientific is also benefiting from AI in the development of CellRACE, an analysis tool for cancer diagnostics that can analyze the migration behavior of cancer cells and thus determine whether cancer will metastasise or not.
2cureX uses AI in drug sensitivity testing to predict the efficacy of cancer drugs and the tumor response.
Medtech company Elekta is also active in AI and oncology with its systems that enable personalized radiotherapy treatments with high precision.
Digital and preventive care
Several companies use AI to develop health applications that assess patients’ symptoms. An example is Kinnevik-owned Babylon Health which has developed a digital healthcare service that combines mobile technology with AI and medical expertise.
Spotify’s founder Daniel Ek has also chosen to enter the field of AI-based preventive care. He is the co-founder of the medtech company Neko Health which has developed a full-body health scan that is said to be able to detect skin changes and cardiovascular diseases at an early stage through AI. Neko Health’s first clinic was launched in Stockholm in early February and the waiting list is long to test the full-body scan.
Ethical issues and risks with AI
AI opens up significant opportunities in healthcare, but at the same time creates many ethical, legal and technical issues. Should researchers and developers have access to sensitive patient data? What if the AI system and doctor have different ideas about what diagnosis and treatment should be given to the patient? Is there a risk that the AI system will make a mistake and, if so, who should be held responsible?
Questions like these need to be answered before AI can be used to a greater extent in healthcare. But one thing we know for sure – AI will change and improve healthcare.The content of BioStock’s news and analyses is independent but the work of BioStock is to a certain degree financed by life science companies. The above article concerns a company from which BioStock has received financing.