When the World Economic Forum declared AI to be part of the fourth industrial revolution at its annual meeting in Davos this year, it said, “We are entering a new era where powerful Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) are being infused at exponential speed into the world around us.”

The Fourth Industrial Revolution

This bold prediction was only further underscored by the recent news reports that AI technology helped identify the coronavirus almost a week before the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Using AI to help with public health surveillance is not new. In fact, Google tried its hand at it decade ago, theorizing it could predict flu outbreaks based on an analysis of  the large number of Google search queries related to flu symptoms.  The theory ultimately did not pan out, with Google missing the 2013 flu season by 140 percent.

Google Flu Trends and Lessons Learned

Learnings from the Google experiment are fueling work being done today.

As a group of researchers from Northeastern University, the University of Houston, and Harvard University, who studied Google Flu Trends noted: “our own research has demonstrated the value of big data in modeling disease spread, real time identification of emergencies, and identifying macro-economic changes ahead of traditional methods.”

Consider the work being done with Harvard Medical School’s HealthMap, which uses AI to sift through news articles and other digital media for signs of new cases and Johns Hopkins University’s case-tracking map, which aggregates data from a range of official Chinese, American, and WHO sources.

Aside from public health issues, AI is seen to have a transformative effect over the entirety of the healthcare industry.

$150 Billion in Annual Savings for the Healthcare Industry

Consulting firm Accenture recently asked healthcare executives about emerging trends in 2020. More 40 percent of respondents said AI would have the greatest impact on their organization in this year and beyond.

According to the Accenture analysis, AI has the potential to create $150 billion in annual savings for the U.S. healthcare economy by 2026.

While Accenture looked at AI’s role in helping perform administrative and clinical healthcare functions, taking over tasks such as medical imaging, risk analysis and diagnosing health conditions, other research demonstrates its expanded capabilities in helping solve problems as far ranging as the opioid crisis and data privacy breaches.

Decreasing Opioid Prescriptions by 45 Percent

For example, Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. uses artificial intelligence to help identify those at risk of opioid addiction. The company’s algorithms comb through millions of workers comp claims, identifying at-risk profiles and assigning experienced nurses or other medical staff to the claim. Between 2014 and 2017, the company saw a 45 percent decrease in opioid prescriptions: more than double the national decline of 21 percent over the same time period.

And, when it comes to data breaches, which have plagued the healthcare industry, AI can also be a powerful tool.  Consider that between January and June 2019, the healthcare industry had already disclosed 285 incidents of patient privacy breaches, with hospital insiders responsible for 20 percent of the incidents.

40% of Companies Using AI to Help Prevent Security Breaches

AI can help detect the risk indicators displayed by those who want to defraud organizations but without the inherent human bias.  Additionally, AI can help manage the incredible volume of data that must be collected, aggregated, correlated, analyzed and fused across disparate sources

In fact, another report by Accenture, found that 40 percent of companies are using AI and machine learning to help protect themselves from cybersecurity and related breaches.

As part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, AI truly is helping solve some of the world’s most challenging problems. Learn how Radiance can help solve yours.