The value of the global digital health market was estimated at almost 100 billion U.S. dollars in 2016. According to forecasts, the number is expected to grow to over 200 billion dollars by 2020. Concurrently, mobile health and wireless health are estimated to become the key growth drivers.
The wide spread of internet usage, smartphones, and social networks is considered as an important precondition for the digital health development. Real-time data transfer and information exchange provide both physicians and patients with great benefits.
AI in medicine
The implementation of AI will significantly transform the healthcare industry.
There are already several smartphone apps on the market providing virtual medical appointments. The user simply has to enter his/her health problems and select the preferred doctor.
A short time later, the patient is connected via audio or video call with the physician.
High fever, sore throat, headache and further symptoms make it difficult to visit a medical practice personally. Due to digital technologies, the patient can stay in bed and obtain help remotely.
Without any doubts, a remote diagnosis cannot replace a comprehensive consultation and a health check in a clinic. However, the technology provides doctors with a preliminary indication. If a prescription or a medical certificate is required, it will be automatically sent to a pharmacy or employer.
Digital health assistant
Healthcare chatbot has an access to a massive database that includes information on numerous symptoms and disease patterns.
When a user asks him what to do against abdominal pain, the chatbot analyses the mentioned symptoms and responds in form of a human-like dialogue. The AI-based system is self-learning; it means the diagnosis will be more and more precise over time.
Thus, the AI doctor can turn the smartphone into a mobile medical practice that is available from anywhere and at any time via Internet connection.
AI technology can be successfully implemented for illnesses detection. Eye or skin diseases can be recognized due to algorithms that analyze digital images of a patient on a smartphone.
If the system detects any abnormalities, the chatbot suggests visiting a doctor.
Activities and bodily functions such as heartbeat or blood pressure can be tracked by wearables and transmitted to a doctor using an app.
Despite all the benefits of AI-based health assistants, the technology still sets enormous challenges for personal privacy.
Is personal data kept safely? Is it protected against cyber attacks? Will a patient have to pay a higher insurance premium if he or she is rated by the smartphone as a risk patient when not getting enough steps a day?
In fact, medical databases had already been a target for cybercriminals in the past years.
For example, the US health insurer Premera Blue Cross was a victim of a cyber attack in 2015. According to estimates, the breach involved medical data and financial information of 11 million customers.
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