Wearable device data and AI can reduce health care costs and paperwork

Darrell West at Brookings: “Though digital technology has transformed nearly every corner of the economy in recent years, the health care industry seems stubbornly immune to these trends. That may soon change if more wearable devices record medical information that physicians can use to diagnose and treat illnesses at earlier stages. Last month, Apple announced that an FDA-approved electrocardiograph (EKG) will be included in the latest generation Apple Watch to check the heart’s electrical activity for signs of arrhythmia. However, the availability of this data does not guarantee that health care providers are currently equipped to process all of it. To cope with growing amounts of medical data from wearable devices, health care providers may need to adopt artificial intelligence that can identify data trends and spot any deviations that indicate illness. Greater medical data, accompanied by artificial intelligence to analyze it, could expand the capabilities of human health care providers and offer better outcomes at lower costs for patients….

By 2016, American health care spending had already ballooned to 17.9 percent of GDP. The rise in spending saw a parallel rise in health care employment. Patients still need doctors, nurses, and health aides to administer care, yet these health care professionals might not yet be able to make sense of the massive quantities of data coming from wearable devices. Doctors already spend much of their time filling out paperwork, which leaves less time to interact with patients. The opportunity may arise for artificial intelligence to analyze the coming flood of data from wearable devices. Tracking small changes as they happen could make a large difference in diagnosis and treatment: AI could detect abnormal heartbeat, respiration, or other signs that indicate worsening health. Catching symptoms before they worsen may be key to improving health outcomes and lowering costs….(More)”.