Several factors combine to make Artificial Intelligence and Healthcare an almost indissoluble match. First of these is the increase in life expectancy, which obviously translates into population aging and is unfortunately associated with an increasing incidence of chronic diseases: this puts great pressure on the health system, on health facilities and professionals, with the risk of a deterioration in the quality of service in such a delicate area as health.
Therefore, the need arises to reconsider the system as a whole and, above all, to reconsider how the services are provided. In particular, a digital transformation process enabled by technologies such as 5G, the Cloud and above all Artificial Intelligence becomes strategic. We expect results of great consequence: improved services for patients, who will be monitored remotely, will have access to even more precise diagnoses and highly personalized treatment courses; for doctors and professionals, who will be actively supported by technology while maintaining their central role in the diagnostic and treatment process; for the health system, which will enjoy all the benefits resulting from a new level of efficiency and will end up being more sustainable.
Artificial Intelligence and Healthcare: the role of data
More specifically, we can address the topic of Artificial Intelligence and how it can be used in healthcare 4.0, focusing on Exprivia | Italtel projects in particular.
When it comes to ‘Artificial Intelligence and Healthcare’, the starting point is the immense amount of clinical data that – thanks to the digitalization of medical records and of diagnostic imaging – can already be analyzed and provide information useful to support different processes, in particular diagnostic processes and treatment courses. Radiomics, for example, is one of the areas in which Exprivia | Italtel is focusing its research: conceived as a tool to support (not replace) radiologists, radiomics is based on the premise that the approach to the images of common diagnostic tests should be quantitative, in other words, that the images are extended sets of data that hide from view fundamental information for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. In this context, AI is fundamental both to support the radiologist in making the diagnoses, and as a tool with which to approach the ultimate goal of personalized medicine. Furthermore, the application of machine learning to radiomic features can also have a broader purpose than the detection and treatment of a single disease: it can in fact allow the creation of a dynamic patient profile, for which the AI adopts a predictive approach and suggests personalized prevention and treatment plans. Finally, one more point of contact between Artificial Intelligence and healthcare concerns the research and textual analysis of medical reports: in this regard, the Exprivia | Italtel group is developing advanced solutions based on Natural Language Processing.
AI, 5G and robotics: Healthcare 4.0
Not only artificial intelligence: among the technologies which can revolutionize healthcare, the new 5G communication networks, the increasingly widespread availability of wearable sensors, and robotics enable telemedicine and telesurgery scenarios which are finally taking on concrete shape. Monitoring patients remotely, with the associated possibility of diagnosing and setting up treatment plans, is a concrete answer for all patients who have trouble traveling and are difficult to reach, an advanced tool to provide them with a better service and reduce hospitalization rates considerably. Furthermore, as far as 5G is concerned, its very low latency and extreme reliability will make it possible to perform remote surgeries, allowing physically distant medical teams to come together for the operation, more or less as we are used to doing for much less critical activities, such as company meetings.
In this field, Exprivia | Italtel has recently started, together with several partners, the ‘Si-Robotics’ research project, which aims to develop robotic devices for home and hospital care. The Si-Robotics project goes beyond the concept of telemedicine and, relying on robotic technologies, AI and IoT, affects a much broader sphere, the sphere of personalized healthcare and the improvement of living conditions for elderly patients and disabled persons. “Social” robots will therefore be able to assist patients in their treatment journey, but also assess their possible physical and cognitive decline, anticipate their needs, communicate with them and provide support for rehabilitation programs.