Imagine a world where the always-on, always listening, Virtual Personal Assistant (VPA) devices in your home recognise your cries for help. The device could diagnose what’s wrong with you, call the emergency services with critical information such as your blood type or medical history and then ring your family members to let them know which hospital you’re being taken to.
On arrival at the hospital, Artificial Intelligence (AI) would capture and recognise your face, retrieve your medical files and alert the doctors that you’ve arrived. It could also recommend drugs and analyse for further treatments, and that’s even before you’ve come into contact with a single human doctor.
Once you’re all better and released from hospital, the VPAs in your home would assist with your recovery and keep you healthy by altering your diet and recommending lifestyle choices.
They would also be able to order repeat prescriptions and answer any questions you may have on how to take your medicine or any potential side-effects.
This future is closer than we may realise, according to Dr. Vishal Nangalia, NHS clinical entrepreneur in machine learning and artificial intelligence. He was quizzed on stage at Lions Health 2017 by Christina Kim from Omnicom Health Group, on how AI is metamorphosing healthcare to be more automated, personal convenient and ultimately effective.
“There is already a British Red Cross skill on Amazon’s Alexa, whereby if you have a nose bleed for example, you can tell the VPA and it will issue instruction and advice,” Dr. Nangalia said. “Meanwhile, Omnicom is developing new ways to integrate data from wearables, apps and remote monitoring devices to help healthcare organisations communicate with and engage patients more effectively.”
According to Dr. Nangalia, much of our healthcare today is planned and for most of us, it involves repeated and largely unnecessary visits to a hospital to answer a series of formulaic questions, designed to inform doctors whether or not we’re fit enough to undergo surgery or an operation.
“This could all be done via an automated avatar system, which would save both doctors and patients many wasted hours,” Dr. Nangalia said. “In the UK, we currently have an NHS operator-manned telephone system, which assesses each problem via a series of questions and then makes a recommendation. Earlier this year, a chat-bot app was launched so that people had the option of exactly the same service, but delivered via a series of text messages instead of by a human being. Automating the doctor patient consultations in hospital is only a year away.”
Advances in healthcare AI have been made possible by 15 years of collecting blood test results via machines and storing the data electronically. The result is that there are now massive repositories with hundreds of millions of data points that technology firms can use to create algorithms, which introduce automation and replicate the jobs that doctors do.
This will create a new breed of doctor, designed to look after you in the home and make the hospital experience more fluid.
Omnicom Health Group’s Christina Kim believes that it’s the role of advertising and marketing to help forge the required emotional connections to the data that our VPAs will be issuing us with around our health.
She concludes: “Currently, doctors will tell us not to smoke or to take regular exercise but we rarely listen. If AI is soon to replace the need for doctors, we as the advertising industry need to take the opportunity to forge emotional connections to how we interpret the data that our wearables, invisibles and VPAs are providing us with, so that we act upon it and stay healthy.”