Challenges Facing Artificial Intelligence and Robotics in Healthcare

The healthcare realm has undergone vast changes ever since the COVID-19 pandemic erupted globally. While some positive outcomes, like the rapid development and worldwide dissemination of the vaccine, have come to light, there are useful takeaways from this crisis, such as the requirement for enhanced readiness to confront large-scale emergencies.

The healthcare experts have been emphasising the quick expansion of the populace for a while, along with its ramifications for the healthcare industry. Meanwhile, the duration and financing required to teach freshly recruited doctors and nurses have seen minimal changes.

In response to the rising life expectancy, the healthcare setup is evolving to cater to the demands of the ageing population. This encompasses broadening the access to hospital care, clinics, and job opportunities to fulfil the augmented requirement of these amenities.

Since it is not feasible to expedite the training of medical practitioners, we need to explore alternative ways to cope with the rising request. The accelerated advancement of artificial intelligence and robotics suggests that technology will play a vital role in our endeavour to secure longevity.

How does technology contribute to transforming healthcare?

Incorporating technological solutions, specifically for research administration, diagnosis, and treatment, is deemed highly advantageous for the healthcare sector.

When contemplating Artificial Intelligence (AI), it is essential to acknowledge the potential utility of algorithms to assemble data from around the world for multiple research objectives. Uniprot’s data, accessible via their website, is an instance of such data that could aid in augmenting healthcare investigations and aid researchers in flagging patterns that they might have overlooked in smaller datasets.

Atomwise, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) program, conducts searches across medical records to seek out likely cures for ailments. In 2023, the organisation embarked on investigating plausible remedies for the Ebola virus, and through its work, the AI uncovered two treatments that hold considerable promise.

After training on two mammography datasets, Google’s DeepMind outperformed medical experts in spotting breast cancer. The research group indicates that with additional development, the technology could be universally employed by doctors to elevate diagnostic precision.

Algorithms have been employing patient social media data for some time now to predict the likelihood of developing depression before the manifestation of symptoms or seeking medical aid, with a high degree of accuracy.

As proof accumulates, it is apparent that the healthcare industry is not only reaping benefits from artificial intelligence. Prior to the zenith of the COVID crisis, telemedicine experienced a substantial surge in adoption. Mobile healthcare is now highly demanded, with hundreds of apps accessible in app stores around the globe.

The EU Parliament’s Workshop on Robotics in Healthcare showcases fascinating implementations such as:

  • Robotic-Assisted Surgery:

    One possible approach is to employ Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robots, custom-made to execute autonomous operations. Alternatively, robots could assist in surgeries and enable remote procedures.
  • Robots aiding in care and social engagement:

    Self-regulating caregivers capable of furnishing primary care, conducting initial diagnoses, and preventing illnesses.
  • Approaches and infrastructure assisting in patients’ recovery:

    AI-assisted technology that forms therapy plans and provides support in rehabilitating patients.
  • Education and training for healthcare providers:

    Workshops utilizing virtual reality (VR) and AI-supported education.

The prospect of a productive collaboration between the IT and healthcare domains is thrilling, although several obstacles still need addressing.

Eliminating Obstacles

Noury and team carried out a comprehensive examination of the key dilemmas that arise from the utilization of assisted robots in the healthcare sector and classified the results into five groups.

While scrutinizing the healthcare industry, market failure is a widespread concern amongst robotics and AI companies. A significant challenge in this area is the gap between the two sectors. The reasons for IT businesses not achieving their desired market may encompass a scarcity of relations and inadequate knowledge in healthcare infrastructure.

Entrepreneurs and their offerings are being viewed with more caution, owing to insufficient product information and sales representatives’ tendency to make excessively ambitious claims. Enhancing the relationship between the two groups requires the conception of new avenues for communication.

Overspending is Unnecessary

The expense of developing and incorporating novel technologies is a significant challenge. While technological progress may be imperative to achieving particular long-term objectives, many investors are apprehensive because of the high expenditure with low expected returns.

People in leadership positions are confronted with a challenging task of weighing the outlay of resources on cutting-edge innovation versus the demand for immediate necessities such as tools and medicine. It can be demanding to rationalize investing in revolutionary innovation that has yet to establish its worth when resources could be allocated to essential commodities.

Moreover, several healthcare systems are already operating at or close to their full potential. It is paradoxical that the healthcare institutions that could receive the most gain from automation are also those least capable of affording it.

Lack of Sufficient Institutional Support

Medical practice is unique in that it involves navigating a labyrinthine network of regulations and red tape. For new technologies to be adopted successfully by end-users, they must pass extensive testing and receive approval, and innovative practices must be assessed in multiple phases.

There is a pervasive notion among technology sector operatives that they are not receiving adequate backing from institutions. Accreditation procedures are frequently ambiguous, with minimal involvement from the government and stakeholders. Moreover, the legal foundation for these domains is often frail or entirely absent.

Having a robust legal infrastructure and ethical research methodology in place is vital when even minor errors can result in potentially lethal consequences. Nonetheless, these procedures should be viewed as enablers, not hindrances. The principal difficulty may be persuading stakeholders to adopt a proactive stance in promoting the use of advanced technology.

Technical Problems Arising

To harness the potential of new technologies, professionals must acquire appropriate credentials. This can be a demanding and time-consuming process, and several practitioners may be unaware of the advantages of automation or may have concerns about its dependability.

One more aspect to consider is the deficiency of technical infrastructure in numerous institutions, which may make the adoption of new technologies, such as remote surgery and cloud services, impracticable due to the dependence on a reliable internet connection.

The Ethical Predicament

The prospective ethical implications of incorporating advanced electronic technologies are often disregarded. It is crucial to ponder on the ethical and policy ramifications related to employing algorithms to make decisions. What would happen if an algorithm generated an erroneous outcome?

There has long been contention surrounding the use of robots and Artificial Intelligence in the medical industry. It is imperative that we comprehend the ethical implications of our choices before we can progress with a clear conscience.

The healthcare sector is expected to undergo a technological revolution in the immediate future. It is now crucial that we concentrate on identifying the required structural modifications to guarantee the realization of this vision.

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