In today’s healthcare environment, more data yields better results. The effectiveness of big data and machine learning can generate a value up to $100B annually which is based on optimized innovation, better decision-making, improved research efficiency, clinical trials and creating new tools.
Beginning from the stethoscope that was launched in 1816 to the handheld machines that we have today, the healthcare sector has steadily adopted technology and developed to advance healthcare. In the last 10 years, medical providers have taken the major step of implementing electronic health systems to make data more accessible. The healthcare industry is turning to machine learning to make acute sense of all the information available.
Machine learning focuses on developing software based algorithms based on the machine’s previous experiences. It then turns to performing the specific task or improve the performance of the task without having to change the software itself. In simple words, ML extracts the knowledge it currently gains from data and enhances it to make it work better.
To improve healthcare infrastructure, it is important to solve the issue of disparate origins of data collected. This can be done with ML as it can find ways to collect and use various types of data for improved analysis, treatment and prevention of health issues.
Data mining tools and machine learning lead to intelligent data-driven decisions and can be applied to address challenging problems such as clinical genomic analysis, real-world evidence analysis, or designing support systems for clinical decisions. With endless healthcare opportunities, machine learning can help better care delivery when it is supervised as well as unsupervised.
ML models attempt to adopt principles on the basis of how humans essentially learn. It involves developing systems that can think and adapt to themselves. Machine learning can be split into three principal categories which are supervised, unsupervised and reinforcement learning.
Let’s take a closer look at each of them:
Supervised learning is where a machine learning model is handed data that is labeled with a definite outcome. Overtime, it learns about the association between data and outcome and makes forecast for future data.
Unsupervised learning is where a ML model is handed data that is not labeled with an outcome. It is able to then sort and segregate the data into groups choosing the best fit on its own unlike with supervised learning which requires certain outcome or group that the data has to fit into.
Reinforced learning is where a machine learning model attempts to outline the most effective way of gaining the highest reward by choosing multiple sets of actions. When the system achieves a certain outcome, it is rewarded. Therefore, it tries to conclude the best way of achieving the uppermost reward.
Real-world benefits of machine learning in healthcare
One of the essential applications ML in the field of healthcare includes diagnosis and treatment. It is essential in emergency situations but also equally useful in primary care and specialized physicians. Machine learning can be used to forecast mortality and length of remaining life using patient vitals and tools. This could include test results of blood which can be used to predict the rate of living either in case of a car accident or cancer-stricken patients.
A significant use of machine learning models is in diagnosing patients, especially in cases that involve relatively rare diseases and hard to predict outcomes. Several ML models were used in a recent clinical study, to examine data from electronic health records that can predict heart failures.
Machine learning can also be used to establish the most effective dosage of medicine which reduces the cost for healthcare providers and patients. ML can be used for determining the right amount of dosage to the most appropriate medication required for patients. Genetic variation can impact how effective the drug is based on different ethnicities or races and patient’s response to drugs such as HIV medication can be altered to suit them through ML.
Advanced algorithms in machine learning are able to rapidly identify the differences and reach precise and reliable conclusions. Technologies that are being used at present include interpreting a wide range of images as well as those from (MRI) magnetic resonance imaging and (CT) computed tomography scans.
Advanced machine learning algorithms can effectively identify possible regions of concern on X-rays, scans or images and develop the possible hypotheses that are needed. In surgery, there are many new ML models that are required to be developed for robotic surgeries. These increase the probability of flourishing surgical outcomes that can reduce the burden on physicians and surgeons.
Though machine learning is currently being used in healthcare, it is not being utilized to its maximum capabilities when compared to other industries such as finance. There is a wide scope of improvement and major changes can be made in the healthcare sector with an applied interest in ML.
Matt Wilson – A Healthcare Expert, working with Aegis Health Tech as Senior Developer from last 5 years. He has extensive experience in EMR solution, HL7 healthcare, EHR Integration and Implementation.