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Artificial intelligence has an exciting future in healthcare, from streamlining insurance claims to helping radiologists, dermatologists, cardiologists and other specialties improve data-driven pattern recognition, to providing from rapid information and efficiency improvements in hospitals to a direct role in the doctor’s office. informing doctors and patients.
Don’t get me wrong, I have great respect for clinical judgment, creative solutions, and the need to maintain patient privacy. My personal empathy cannot be replaced by a computer voice, no matter how soothing. The AI must therefore function as a kind of co-pilot in the doctor’s office.
There is one area where AI will be a game-changer that has not received enough attention, namely tackling shortages of essential medicines while helping to develop new medicines and reuse old ones.
Drug shortages are growing and crucial antibiotics such as amoxicillin (although often over-prescribed by doctors) remain extremely important. Crucial mental health drugs such as Adderall, Vyvanse and Concerta for ADHD also remain in short supply, which is particularly problematic for our teenagers, many of whom are returning to in-person school after restrictive drug policies. pandemic with increasing levels of anxiety, socialization issues and learning delays.
WHAT IS ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI)?
That’s not to say that ADHD medications aren’t also over-prescribed, but consider that, according to the CDC, more than 10 percent of children and teens ages 6 and older have ADHD and more than 60 percent need of drugs. Shortages arise for many reasons, including narrow profit margins as deterrents, lack of sufficient active pharmaceutical ingredients from China and India, and increased demand.
But imagine if AI was used by a tool to determine availability both in terms of ingredients, final product, as well as which pharmacy has it and which one has demand but not supply. Extensive use of AI, if it reduces costs and improves the efficiency of drug delivery, might even be an incentive to bring drug manufacturing back to the United States.
Even more exciting is the potential use of AI for drug development. Drug discovery and the proven process of high-throughput screening, in which different chemicals are used to bombard different protein targets on diseased cells until one is found that works, could and will be greatly improved. through machine learning, where AI can predict toxicity. or even offers a slightly modified version of a molecule that works better than the previous one. The speed increase and cost savings will be enormous. It will not replace the need for clinical trials, but it may increase them.
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One of the main reasons why no new class of antibiotics has been developed since the late 1980s is that it is difficult for a drugmaker to justify the billion dollar cost to develop a new one. antibiotic when we humans only use it occasionally. when we are sick. AI will change all that and make antibiotic development easier and much cheaper.
As antibiotics continue to be overused both in animal feed and by doctors mistreating upper respiratory viruses, more resistant bacteria will continue to emerge because they have a survival advantage. AI can help by tracking emerging resistance patterns and integrating them into a streamlined drug development process.
AI as a solution to drug shortages, development and reuse extends far beyond just antibiotics and ADHD drugs, to treatments for cancer, obesity and heart disease, as well as to all medications. Side effects, drug interactions, and drug indications could all be monitored by AI, building up a huge database that doctors like me could use.
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I still remember the days of the Physicians’ Desk Reference that I had to wade through, and the move to online procurement, which eventually became part of my electronic health records program, was a big improvement in Healthcare. AI will take this process several exponential steps beyond the EHR.
It won’t be long before the next cure for cancer or Alzheimer’s disease comes from an advanced machine that tests different chemical formulas until the right one is found. Don’t worry, the doctors/scientists will always take the helm after this. We must accept this new reality, not resist it. I know I already accept it.
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