AI Assistance in Wellness and Robotic Surgery – How Far Have We Come?
Healthcare AI applications and examples hold the promise of affordable healthcare, improved success rates, effective clinical trials, and improved quality of life. One of the greatest and most directly impacting consumer potential healthcare application of AI is its ability to help people stay healthy. With the rise of Medical Things Internet (IoMT) in consumer health applications, this application has grown in the past decade in leaps and bounds. Healthcare apps encourage individuals to behave healthily. With mainstream companies like Apple now making their portfolio’s major products for cardiac tracking, fall detection and emergency SOS, it looks like IoMT is here to stay. According to a report from Allied Market Research, the IoT healthcare market will reach $136.8 billion worldwide by 2021, with a CAGR 12.5 percent from 2015 to 2021.
In terms of practice, AI can help improve surgical performance while still in its infancy. Typically, the outcome of an operation can vary with the ability of the surgeons, especially a new or complex procedure. Using AI can reduce these case-to-case variations and even help to improve even the best surgeons ‘ efficiency. For instance, AI controlled robots can provide articulation with a three-dimensional magnification and perform with greater precision and miniaturization. Robots enabled by AI can perform basic precise cutting and stitching actions. In 2017, we witnessed surgeons at the Maastricht University Medical Center in the Netherlands using AI assisted robotics to suture extremely narrow blood vessels – between 0.03 and 0.08 millimeters across.
The surgeon is still controlling the robotic suturing, of course. During a surgical procedure, there are numerous small complex tasks that absolutely require a nuanced surgeon’s skills. Before we can see an AI utopia where robots would replace surgeons or nurses, there is still a long way to go. For now, however, they are excellent assistants that can reduce variability in the outcome.