By Dr. Anthony Policastro

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been in the conversation in many areas. One might wonder what impact it might have on medical practice.

There are a number of areas that AI can be useful in medicine. For example, there are many things located in your medical record. A physician might be taking a history and adding that to the record. AI can search the record for related information. After all, it is not reasonable to expect the physician to remember all the medical history on each patient. An AI computer can do that.

In addition, AI can search medical articles that are similar to the information that the physician is adding to the record. That might help with finding additional diagnostic questions to ask.

New drug research takes a long time. There are many pieces of information collected. Currently all the information has to be collected and then analyzed. AI can use information as it is collected to look for patterns in real time.

AI will be able to enhance genomic studies. Many people know about the genetics of breast cancer and colon cancer. However, there are real time uses for genomics. A study published in July 2023 discussed the genomics of an aggressive brain tumor called glioma. A real time AI tool was able to give doctors useful clinical information. It would help them decide how aggressive to be in terms of tumor removal. It would also tell them whether to inject chemotherapy directly into the tumor at the time of surgery.

Hospital scheduling can sometimes be a nightmare. A surgeon going on vacation may leave vacant operating room time. Trying to re-schedule that time by hand can be a problem. AI can do it using a scheduling algorithm.

The same kind of thing can be done with inventory. It can also be done with long term planning for when purchasing expensive medical equipment makes sense based upon increasing demand.

Using AI to help define minor findings in medical imaging can help a radiologist see something that might have otherwise been missed.

Chat bots like Chat GPT can be used to write things. However, these same things can be used to sort though messages from patients to physicians. Medical care questions can be separated from office hours questions. Prescription requests can be grouped rather than handled one at a time as the message comes up.

One of the things that physicians have to do is predict expected outcomes for patients. The result might be affected by age. It might be affected by sex. It will certainly be affected by underlying medical problems. An AI tool can make those predictions more exact using the information already available in the medical record.

There are already in existence remote monitoring medical devices. AI can help make this monitoring more real time than it currently is. Similarly experimentation in the role AI can play in robotic surgery is currently underway.

All of these areas will be impacted by AI in the future. You should not be surprised when these things start playing a role in your own medical care.