How AI is Transforming Women’s Healthcare
Have you begun to see the influence of artificial intelligence (AI) in your OBGYN practice this year? According to data published by Statista, AI in the healthcare market is projected to be worth around $21 billion worldwide in 2023 and will continue rapidly accelerating to approximately $188 billion by 2030 (that’s a compound annual growth rate of 37 percent!).
What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)?
Artificial intelligence is the simulation of human intelligence processes (i.e. learning, predicting, reasoning, creating, etc.) by machines or software. AI typically involves large amounts of data that machines or software can be “trained” to analyze and utilize in more efficient ways than human capabilities.
Impact of AI on OB/GYN Practices
AI has the potential to greatly impact obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN) practices. From workflow automation & efficiency to improved patient diagnostics & treatments, AI will eventually play a role in several key areas that can help improve our lives and the lives of our patients. In this article, we seek to highlight a few of the areas already seeing significant AI investment & progress being made and things you should consider exploring further for your own practice.
AI software can be used in ultrasound imaging to detect potential abnormalities or issues with the fetus, placenta, uterus, or ovaries. AI algorithms can spot anomalies and measure anatomical features for earlier intervention. One such example is from a company called Ultrasound AI. Trained on millions of ultrasound images, their Forecasted Delivery Date Range (FDDR) AI platform can predict preterm birth as early as eight weeks of gestation and helps doctors & patients get ahead of potential complications due to premature birth.
Each day, OBGYNs leverage their extensive experience and analytical insights from academic research in providing the best medical care to their patients. With the power of AI, doctors can now enhance that ability. This allows OBGYNs to provide more targeted, personalized care. AI is now making it possible to better analyze a patient's genetic markers, medical history, and lifestyle data to more accurately predict their risk profile for conditions like breast cancer or ovarian cancer. In prescribing medications, AI can help optimize dosages and treatment combinations for conditions like PCOS, endometriosis, menstrual disorders based on the patient's unique biology and past response data. The key is in AI’s ability to analyze large datasets to uncover what factors impact an individual's health risks and responses to treatments.
Risk and Error Prevention
The safety of patients has always been paramount in women’s healthcare. However, there’s also a reality that human error can and does occur from time to time. Over the years, through better training, process, and tools, OBGYNs have work towards minimizing those errors. With advancements in AI, we now have additional capabilities to improve medical safety. From AI tools that can flag potential errors in prescription or treatment plans to natural language processing that can scan clinical notes or discharge summaries to ensure important details or requirements are not missed, there’s an ever-growing field of software that will make our practices even better. And, these capabilities aren’t just restricted to “error checking”, they also have the ability to do predictive analysis to improve treatments and deliver earlier intervention.
Software associated with supporting practice management are seeing new releases enhanced with AI capabilities to better automate routine administrative tasks like appointment scheduling, billing and coding, which can make your practice even more efficient and effective.
Additionally, AI-driven automation is increasingly infiltrating patient care through tools like chatbots and virtual assistants that can help triage patient concerns and questions online. In January 2023, Northwell Health rolled out an AI-driven pregnancy chatbot that offers weekly informational dialogs that are based on the stage of pregnancy and personalized according to a patient’s self-reported risk factors. These chats are seamlessly linked to their medical care management team as well. “Northwell Health Pregnancy Chats are both extremely comprehensive and highly individualized and are designed to complement the interactions patients have with their providers,” said Michael Nimaroff, MD, senior vice president of Northwell’s OB/GYN service line. “It’s a way to ensure women are never without support, whether they’re in a doctor’s office or in their own home.”
Challenges and Ethical Considerations
While AI and machine learning have been around for years, the rapid rise in their usage and application, even in the past 12-18 months, has medical experts and governing bodies scrambling to get their arms around some of the potential challenges associated with AI. For instance, based on how AI is “trained” on large datasets, patient privacy and confidentiality is of utmost importance. Spend anytime using tools like ChatGPT, and you quickly realize that AI is not a 100% accurate either. Transparency is becoming a common theme in the industry between AI vendors, doctors, and patients who deserve to understand how & where AI may be impacting their care. Addressing these challenges through governance, ethics training, and partnerships between tech and healthcare will be important for realizing AI's benefits while mitigating its risks.
There’s a lot to be excited about with rapid advancements we seem to be hearing daily around AI and its impact in women’s healthcare. AI offers huge potential to enhance OBGYN care through automation, improved diagnostics, and personalized & accurate medical care. Still, we believe there will always be an art and science to medicine. OBGYNs will still play a crucial role in caring for patients and the best future of women's healthcare will involve partnership between AI tools and human experts.