Empowered by artificial intelligence, doctors and staff who utilize interventional radiology can get a helping hand thanks to researchers at the University of Iowa. According to the university, interventional radiologist Sandeep Laroia, MD, and his team are in the process of developing an AI-powered device that can assist staff in simple IR procedures. So far, the team has seen very promising results with the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarding them an Innovation Phase 1 grant for their work, which could supply the team with up to 1.5 million dollars in funding.
Though this isn’t the first time medical researchers have looked to artificial intelligence as a means to supplement their work and even enhance their own capacities, the work done at the University of Iowa shows that the technology can if properly managed, return excellent results for both doctors and patients in mind. This work has two main benefits. First, patients can see catheters, guide wires, and other devices used in radiological imaging. Second, doctors focus on more pressing and complex tasks requiring more time.
Dr. Sandeep Laroia, MD explains, “So, the idea is to have a device perform simpler medical tasks without involving me or another team member, that way we can focus on more complex tasks…Maybe the device does the procedure on its own or maybe I start the procedure and it alerts me when it’s done.”
Though this promising technology can help hospitals that tend to be short-staffed, especially in more rural areas, it doesn’t mean that your health is in the hands of a machine only. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the needs of both patients and staff have shifted, “We need that human healing touch, but it’s becoming increasingly complicated to get providers to the patient for a variety of reasons…In a pandemic, for example, we want to limit exposure, so we can keep ourselves and the patient healthy, for the sake of protecting our staff, but also because we need to be there for our patients.”
Finally, if this technology can be proven to be reliable, it could assist medical centers that serve those outside major metros, improving the quality of care while providing staff with needed assistance as Dr. Laroia states, “Sometimes people travel several hours to get simple procedures done. So, the question is how can we decentralize some of these treatments so that they’re more readily accessible and not just in more urban areas?”
The use of AI to treat and/or diagnose patients is fast becoming a reality as major research centers such as MIT are creating devices that diagnose and monitor Parkinson’s disease while the person sleeps. There are even studies hoping to use AI algorithms to detect illness simply by hearing your voice.