AI Powered Healthcare: Paving the Way for a Brighter Future for Patients

The driving force behind Artificial Intelligence (AI) is its potential to accelerate human progress and enhance our experiences in all areas of our lives, and in no area is this more significant than healthcare.

The healthcare sector has seen unbelievable progress in the last decade, including the rapid, cross-border innovation that saw us through the pandemic. However, with a rapidly growing population and the CSO estimating that the numbers aged 65 or over will double to 1.6m by 2051, together with rising healthcare costs, we will continue to face increased challenges to our health. For the healthcare system and life sciences industry in Ireland, this means pressure to treat more patients, more cost-effectively and with better results.

The good news is that Ireland is in a strong position to face these challenges. Advances in genomics, bioinformatics, microscopy, medical imaging, and many other areas have created an avalanche of data that, if captured and analysed correctly, can be used to significantly improve patient outcomes.

A future of personalised healthcare

Using AI combined with High-Performance Computing (HPC), clinicians can develop truly bespoke treatment plans by analysing vast data sets, discovering unique patterns, and deriving insights at a speed no human could process. It has the potential to revolutionise patient care, promising improved efficiencies as well as more predictive and accessible care.

Previously, healthcare providers have relied on a one-size fits all approach, treating the illness rather than the individual. Innovative diagnostics and bespoke treatments have the potential to either prevent a condition arising from the outset, or failing that, to allow much earlier diagnosis and treatment highly tailored to each individual.

HPC is a key part of the personalisation puzzle, as it enables doctors and consultants in Ireland to derive actionable insights from large, complex data sets at lightning speed. In fact, genomic analysis that previously took days can now be achieved in minutes.

Whether using machine learning or AI to analyse medical images, detect patterns across populations, design medical devices, or solve problems such as how to predict protein structures, healthcare professionals need to be able to run compute-intensive workloads at high speed.

Electronic health record (EHR) systems, for example, are a potential source of real-time insight but may store millions of confidential patient records across a decentralized infrastructure.

As the volume of data grows, healthcare organizations can provide personalized care at lower costs by adopting new systems capable of processing large, disparate sources of information. HPC is providing healthcare organizations with the performance and efficiencies needed to turn data into actionable intelligence in near real-time to speed discoveries and improve care.

Personalisation doesn’t just stop there – it can predict the future.

By looking at patients’ unique genomic make-ups, doctors could design specific methods of prevention, diagnosis, and treatment, estimating an individual’s disease risk and developing tailored reactive or perhaps even proactive drug therapies. Advances in this space in the coming decade could make personalised diagnostics based on an individual’s genetics more accessible than ever.

Trailblazing AI technologies

We’re already seeing many exciting healthcare AI examples in practice, including within cancer diagnostics and treatment. In Europe alone, 16-17 million citizens are either being treated for cancer or are in post-treatment long-term remission, a figure that is only set to increase over the next 10-20 years. AI offers better detection and better treatment, including AI tools that spot tumours and lesions doctors might miss.

In Ireland, Dell Technologies and the University of Limerick’s Digital Cancer Research Centre to develop an AI-driven platform that is helping researchers and healthcare professionals deliver precision treatments for patients with B-cell lymphoma by understanding how it develops.

By using emerging technologies, researchers at the Digital Pathology Unit at the University of Limerick’s Digital Cancer Research Centre can also better understand the pathogenesis of these malignancies and develop novel therapeutic approaches.

AI has already given rise to innovations in robot-assisted surgery to improve patient outcomes as well. Integrating AI and robots in surgical processes helps amplify a surgeon’s effectiveness. Data from pre-op medical records can be analysed by algorithms to assist the team in planning procedures and guide the team as they perform the surgery.

The future of AI-powered healthcare requires collaboration

While the future of AI-powered healthcare, underpinned by HPC, is exciting, the question remains: is the medical community adequately prepared for this revolution? According to Statista, the industry is currently valued at €19.1 billion but is expected to grow to €173.9 billion by 2030.

To realise its potential, the industry will need to invest in technology and skills. This is where joining forces with technology partners and vendors will be key, as they will be able to bring their AI skills and expertise to help quickly scale AI projects. Our team at Dell have been working with public and private sector organisations across the island of Ireland to do just that.

With the technology and healthcare industry working together, the next generation of patients will see a level of care that, until recently, we could only dream of. Now is the time to collaborate, innovate, and bring about the AI-powered healthcare revolution.

Guest post by Ivor Buckley, Field CTO, Dell Technologies Ireland