When IBM’s supercomputer Deep Blue body slammed chess grandmaster Gary Kasparov in 1997, artificial intelligence (AI) became part of our collective consciousness. Now it’s becoming a strategic part of treating patients and achieving better outcomes faster and lowering costs.

For the uninitiated, big data is extremely large and complex data sets that can reveal patterns and trends, including human behavior and interactions. Predictive analytics use techniques like statistics and modeling to extract predictions about the future from big data. Put them together with a few nuts and algorithms and you have Artificial Intelligence.

The implications for medicine are huge. Here are just a few of the ways AI is being used in medicine.

New Radiology Tools

AI will power the next generation of radiology tools that, in some cases, are accurate enough to replace the need for tissue samples experts predict.

Clinicians will be able to understand how tumors behave as a whole instead of basing treatment decisions on a small sampling of just the tumor itself. AI is also enabling “virtual biopsies” and radionics, which taps algorithms to characterize the properties of tumors.

Bringing Healthcare to Underserved Communities

Developing countries and rural populations right here in the USA will use AI to overcome chronic shortages of health care providers, especially ultrasound technicians and radiologists. AI imaging tools can screen chest x-rays for signs of tuberculosis with a comparable level of accuracy as humans.

Frustrated with EHR? Try this.

Depend on robots to handle repetitive tasksAdvances in EHR aim to ease the pain and the time suck by automating routine tasks and using voice recognition to take dictation. Look for virtual assistants, like Alexa and Siri, to take notes and handle order entry.

AI at Work on Medical Devices and Your Phone

The Internet of Things is reaching into every device and machine we own. Phones, watches and other wearable devices will help monitor patients in the ICU and at home. AI may diagnose deterioration and provide advance warning of sepsis and other complications.

Selfies as a Secret Diagnostic Weapons

Experts believe that images taken by smartphones will supplement clinical quality imaging – especially in underserved populations or developing nations.

Using smartphones to collect images of eyes, skin lesions, wounds, infections, medications, or other subjects may help underserved areas cope with a shortage of doctors and cut diagnostic time with certain complaints.

AI Use for Clinical Decision Making

Predictive analytics and AI may become important tools bedside. Their ability to crunch massive amounts of data may lead to early warnings on certain diseases, such as seizures and sepsis.