After the buzz, Artificial Intelligence (AI) finding its place in health care

  • March 01, 2022

However, it has been much harder to get a sense of the real-world scale of the phenomenon.  Is AI a perpetual technology of the future?  Or is it starting to get a toehold?

A recently released Food and Drug Administration (FDA) database starts to get at that question.  The Agency combed records to find every Agency-approved device using artificially intelligent technology. And it turns out there is substance to accompany the buzz.  AI has taken off, with 100 devices approved last year alone amid the pandemic.  However, numbers do not tell the whole story, says Eric Topol, Founder and Director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, who is thought deeply about the AI effects in health care and believes there are more telling metrics.  “It’s much more about innovation, validation and transformative impact,” he wrote to Future Pulse.  “Few of these devices have prospective studies and publications with their data [to demonstrate their capabilities].”

You can slice and dice the data in other ways.  Here are the devices sorted by the area of medicine in which they’re used:

Radiology — the analysis of images — leads the pack, by far, like Usain Bolt in an Olympics final.  That is no surprise, Topol says, as it is the “sweet spot of AI.”

The figures might also reflect why the FDA focuses on AI in radiology, said Bradley Merrill Thompson, a lawyer specializing in digital health with Epstein Becker & Green; the Agency has participated in multiple events recently to help inform its thinking.  Recent FDA approvals include an AI-assisted prostate scan that is touted for both bringing down costs and increasing the accuracy and precision of MRIs looking for cancer.

However, transformative results in health care may have to wait.  “We’re still at a very early stage,” said Topol.

REFERENCE:  Politico; 06 OCT 2021; Darius Tahir

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