Our world is shaped by technology. From the second we wake up until the moment our heads hit the pillow at night, we are constantly interacting with technology to manage our lives, to get us from point A to point B or to check in on our loved ones through social media. We interact with Artificial Intelligence (AI) so often that most of us don’t even realize that we’re doing it. And if you’re anything like me, it’s easy to get distracted or overwhelmed by the new, flashy inventions that seem to be released daily. AI makes our lives easier, can even make a person’s life safer and in some cases, it can extend it.
I’m currently seeking my nursing degree and in my Essentials of Nursing class, it was discussed that in the US alone, 50% of all adults are living with at least one chronic disease. These illnesses not only have an impact on a person’s overall health and their independence, but it can also pose an enormous financial burden. In 2015, the total national health expenditures were $3.2 trillion and those costs are continuing to increase, especially as our population ages. Within 10 years, the population of people above 65 years of age will exceed the number of children under five for the first time in human history.
So how can AI help? As technology gets smarter, it can organize information and recognize patterns in health faster than ever. Toyota is currently testing a robot that can be used in the home of a person with limited mobility to help with daily activities such as retrieving items from another room, holding a cup of water for a person to drink from or opening doors. For older generations, one of the biggest obstacles faced in the healthcare world is medication compliance. Noncompliance isn’t always done on purpose but when a person has ten different prescriptions that all need to be taken at different times, some with food, some on an empty stomach, some only as needed, some that are needed only every 4, 6, or 12 hours, it’s easy to see how a person may not adhere to the medications they are prescribed.
AiCure is a company that is aiming to help with that. Through their app, HIPAA-compliant facial recognition software is used to identify the patient who holds up their medication to the camera to ensure that the right medication is being given, at the right time and is then checked in real-time to ensure that the medication was actually ingested. This app sets alarms and reminders for all the various medications a person may take, looks for any adverse reactions between medications, ensures that a person isn’t taking two types of medications for the same ailment and analyzes data to allow for pre-emptive intervention.
At Virta, developers leverage AI software, smart phones and cloud computing to analyze weight, medication adherence, exercise, glucose levels and blood pressure in diabetic patients and will send the information with recommendations to a doctor who makes the ultimate clinical decision regarding patient care. As the most expensive chronic disease worldwide and one that is in some cases preventable, technology like this can shape a diabetic’s life to give them years back and in some cases may reverse the disease altogether in type 2 diabetics. As a type 1 diabetic myself, the benefits of technology like this to aid in reducing complications of diabetes is invaluable.
Every day, start-ups and major corporations alike are trying to find new ways to give us the healthiest, disease-free life possible and I for one can’t wait to see what they come up with next.
Brittany Miller is the Marketing Analyst for SIG and the LatAm Alliance, with an emphasis in building online communities and supporting education in the U.S. and Mexico, where she currently resides. Brittany has taught middle and high school biology, chemistry and health sciences. As a type 1 diabetic, she has always been interested in science, cause and effect and the intersection of medical science and technology. She translates that passion into blogging about millennial issues, human health issues and the disruptive technologies that affect both. Brittany has a bachelor’s degree from Santa Clara University in California.