Five unique ways AI is being used to promote health

Here’s a look at how organizations are deploying artificial intelligence and machine learning for use cases ranging from doctor's assistants to social media and more.
By Laura Lovett
Share

Artificial intelligence is no longer just a futuristic technology. It is now being applied throughout the healthcare arena from imaging to triaging patients. But outside of the mainstream hospital uses, the technology is also be deployed in apps, wearables and trackers. 
 
Here is five of the cutting-edge ways AI is being used by health professionals today. 

1) Doctor's assistants    

One problem that innovators are looking to tackle with AI is paperwork. Doctor’s assistants are becoming more and more common to help out with this issue. 
 
Doctor’s assistant Notable AI combines voice-powered AI and wearable technology. It can pick up on dictations and orders, and can recommend the appropriate billing codes. Then the data from the visit is automatically entered into the EHR using secure robotic processing automation. 

 
“We put AI to use eliminating jobs people don’t want to do first,” Pranay Kapadia, Notable CEO and founder told MobiHealthNews. “We look at it as how do we simplify the business encounters of healthcare by putting encounters and relative data collection on autopilot.”
 
In addition to just capturing information from patient visits the system also learns about provider habits and helps them to fill out documents. 
 
“Notable [is] proactively learning the physician’s behavior and the practice’s behavior so that it can actually predict what they would do when a patient comes in,” Kapadia said. “So when we go live we actually go in and study their past patterns and look at how do they tend to practice, where do they send orders, what patient instructions do they tend to pop in — so that we can put that all on autopilot.”
 
But notable isn’t the only doctor’s assistant on the market. Robin Healthcare launched a voice-enabled AI device that aims to help doctors and clinicians write clinical notes. The device, which looks like an Amazon Alexa or Google Home voice assistant, will sit in a doctor’s office and draft notes from doctors' spoken conversations. 

2) Mental health apps
 
It’s no secret there is a shortage of trained mental health professionals in the US and Europe. As the healthcare industry scrambles to come up with solutions for the pressing issue, more and more innovators are turning to technology. While some like Silver Cloud have set programs for users, others have turned to AI. 
 
One company that is employing AI is Woebot. The chatbot works through a messenger system, but instead of a person at the other end of the messages, the user will be put in touch with an AI that is programmed to help users talk through their mental health using cognitive behavioral therapy principles. Although the tool is not yet FDA cleared, it is designed to walk users through their depression and anxiety symptoms. 
 
Another chatbot, Wysa, also uses AI and CBT. It also engages users in meditation, breathing yoga and aims to help people build resilience skills. 
 
3) Female Health
 
Many companies are also employing AI in fertility and period tracking. 
 
One of the notable companies in this space is Flo Health, which started off using AI to help women predict their menstrual cycle. But eventually the platform morphed and now includes a period and ovulation tracker, graphs about the user’s health and mood, daily health insights and birth control reminders. The tool also has a pregnancy and post-pregnancy mode that lets expecting and new moms view the development of their baby. 
 
Recently Mira released a new fertility monitor that employs AI to analyze users' home fertility test kits and tell them whether or not they are fertile. The test kit is made up of three components: a disposable wand that a user can urinate on, an oval analyzer into which the wand is inserted and an AI that tells the user how fertile she is. 
 
Ava also uses an algorithm to give women insights about their menstrual cycle, as well as sleep and wellbeing. That technology works through a wearable that the woman wears to sleep. The next morning she can sync it with her smartphone. 
 
4) Physical Therapy
 
With 'physical' in the name, most would assume that this type of treatment could only be given in person. Now, however, some developers have implemented AI as a way to administer physical guidance remotely.  
 
Sword Health’s platform Phoenix uses AI to understand each patient’s physical needs, provide responsive feedback during treatment and offer remote guidance from clinical teams. The platform also has a clinical portal where care teams can get in-depth analysis of patients. 
 
But Sword isn’t the only company working on this problem. Physitrack, a digital physical therapy, telehealth and patient engagement company launched a new AI tool that lets providers collect and manage physical therapy data from the corresponding PhysiApp 2.0, a patient facing physical therapy app. 
 
5) Social media
 
The uses of AI are also creeping into social media. The technology has been employed to help with public health initiatives and to spot risky behavior. 
 
In January the Canadian government teamed up with AI firm Advanced Symbolics in order to use AI to track social media posts that could identify someone at risk of suicide. As part of the deal the AI company agreed to give the Canadian government a final report summarizing the findings. That report will include at-risk demographics by age and gender, and how changes in patterns impact risk and protective factors.
 
Facebook has also been joining the conversation around suicide concerns. In November of 2017 the social media giant began to use its AI to identify suicide threats or high-risk postings. The technology can flag those posts and then prioritize the content so that the Community Relations team can address the immediate danger first. Additionally, the AI system can help the Community Relations team access if they need to call a first responder to assist the user. 
 
"Over the last month, we’ve worked with first responders on over 100 wellness checks based on reports we received via our proactive detection efforts," VP of Product Management Guy Rosen wrote in a blog post, shortly after the initiative was launched. "This is in addition to reports we received from people in the Facebook community. We also use pattern recognition to help accelerate the most concerning reports. We’ve found these accelerated reports — that we have signaled require immediate attention — are escalated to local authorities twice as quickly as other reports. We are committed to continuing to invest in pattern recognition technology to better serve our community.”