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Who’s Afraid of AI? These days, almost everyone. Destructors tell us that AI, ChatGPT, and the like are coming for our jobs and will destroy our way of life.
The mood is starkly different in health care, where cutting-edge practitioners recognize AI’s potential to add decades to our lives and fix the disastrous “sick care” system not only in the United States, but around the world.
My life expectancy – and yours – is only increasing, thanks to AI. Here’s how and why.
With the democratization of precision medicine, society will change from a mindset that says, “I’m sick and I need treatment” to one that says, “I’m healthy and I want to stay that way.” (iStock)
We don’t really have any health care system. Instead, we wait until people are practically at death’s door before we start treating them. This is because by the time the most potentially fatal diseases – which affect the heart, lungs, brain and digestive system – manifest themselves, they are too far gone to be cured.
What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)?
As a result, we sadly spend huge sums of money on hospitals, doctors and pharmaceuticals in an attempt to add a few more years to the lives of those suffering from advanced diseases. Treatment is often costly, painful, and worst of all, ineffective.
In contrast, few members of society have access to “precision medicine”, a term describing the deepest possible dive into their health and well-being. They will spend most of the day undergoing a range of tests including CT scans, brain scans, heart ultrasounds, MRIs and extensive blood, urine and stool tests. Their entire genomes will be sequenced, identifying predispositions to diseases that would otherwise be left undiagnosed until they are too far along to be treated.
As a result, patients learn which diseases they are likely to develop, and perhaps more importantly, their doctors can detect brain tumors, heart problems, lung problems, etc., while they are still alive. are also small and easily treatable.
Options: The tumor or malignancy grows, or the blockage in the artery progresses, until the patient cannot be treated or dies suddenly. Loved ones say, “It came from nowhere.” not true. Unbeknownst to it, it was a ticking time bomb that could have been defused years ago.
So where does AI fit in?
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The most expensive line item in precision medicine is the cost of having the results read by doctors. AI can read lung and brain scans and review data from your heart, kidneys and other essential organs far more cheaply than doctors. As a result, within five to 10 years, the price of precision medicine will drop. You’ll get this same type of test as part of your regular health insurance. Or you can get the test at a drugstore for $99.
“We’ve doubled life expectancy in the last 150 years,” says Dr. Bill Kapp, CEO of Fountain Life, a precision medicine company in Westchester, New York, that offers the type of test described here. “We’ve taken care of infectious diseases, food quality, water quality, and microbial and viral diseases. So now we’re left with chronic diseases, which usually don’t show symptoms until the late stages. Thanks to AI, we can will be able to diagnose you long before you’re symptomatic, or tell your markers for the disease.”
All of the above represents a major change for both patients and doctors. Kapp says that most of us are taught from childhood that you only go to the doctor when you’re really sick. And for doctors, medical school training focuses on identifying symptoms and diagnosing people who are sick. They are trained to ask, “Where does it hurt?” Wouldn’t it be better if they could keep you from getting sick in the first place?
With the democratization of precision medicine, society will change from a mindset that says, “I’m sick and I need treatment” to one that says, “I’m healthy and I want to stay that way.”
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Consider what AI makes possible – a shift from a “sick care” system to one focused on early diagnosis and treatment. There has been a huge drop in the cost of health care. Patients get better results. We live longer, healthier, happier lives. We are no longer putting the elderly in storage because they can stay active in their homes and communities for decades longer than before. Parents of young children are not tired because they also have to take care of old, sick relatives.
Another area where AI makes a difference is the assimilation of vast amounts of new information about disease and treatment.
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“Four thousand new articles are published every day in medical journals around the world,” says Kapp. “No doctor can do that. Even with discoveries in basic science, there is a 15-year lag from the time a discovery is made to being taught in medical school or part of a treatment. Any doctor can read 4,000 articles a day. can’t keep up with – but AI can. This means we can get to new ideas and new treatment modalities fundamentally faster than before.”
Your grandmother told you that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That’s why your grandmother must have loved AI.
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