• Views December 13, 2017

A couple of weeks ago I attended the Giant Health Event, one of Europe’s largest, most valuable healthcare innovation summits, which took place at the famous Old Truman Brewery in London.

With exhibitors and speakers from established health specialists to health tech companies and brand new start-ups, the event did a great job of representing all aspects of healthcare and showcasing one of today’s most innovative, creative and forward-thinking industries.

The event had many different stages covering everything from public policy in healthcare and health tech start-up financing, to navigating the NHS and wearable fashion in healthcare. However, the stage that appealed to me the most was dedicated to artificial intelligence (AI) in health and human support. The adoption of AI in healthcare is undoubtedly on the rise and is often hailed as the future of health and patient care. Whether it’s identifying the genomic information of brain tumours without a biopsy using deep learning, improving surgical procedures using innovative learning outcomes, or translating predictive algorithms, sensors and big data products into the real world, AI is becoming the “stethoscope of the 21st century”

One talk that particularly stood out to me was on the use of learning systems to improve patient experiences and how AI is helping close the gap between technology and human empathy. This is an often debated topic – some see AI as the answer to all our problems; a level of intelligence that humans cannot compete with, whilst others view it as a threat to our autonomy and human connections.

What we’re seeing with today’s AI tools in patient care is a shift from static to dynamic pathways, which essentially means that patient behaviour and preferences are being taken into account when deciding the best outcome. AI can often work this out more effectively and efficiently than humans, but what about how this is communicated to the patient? Data and intelligence can help identify a patient’s journey but knowing when and how to present itself is a different story.

The general consensus during this talk was that AI is transforming healthcare, however there is still a way to go when it comes to so-called soft skills, such as empathy and compassion. The good news is that as healthcare becomes more digital, the pressure and workload on healthcare practitioners will likely start to decrease, which will give them more time to concentrate on delivering the concern, humanity and guidance that they’re tasked with.