What Healthcare Startups Can Teach Big Pharma About Artificial Intelligence

Updated on June 17, 2020

The healthcare industry and medical professionals in general, have the most pressure to avoid mistakes and strive for 100% success. 

Patients throughout the globe have an innate fear when preparing for surgery and essentially trusting other people with their lives.

The good news is that medicine and technology are joining forces to increase the accuracy of healthcare. Artificial Intelligence (AI) specifically is evolving within the medical sphere.

The teamwork is already seen in the very popular Apple product called AppleWatch. Within the device, the AI can detect atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat activity) and generally keep track of the user’s well being. This portable ECG (electrocardiogram) has become accessible, functioning, and an approved piece of healthcare technology.

AI in healthcare refers to the use of complex algorithms that can perform certain tasks by reviewing, interpreting, and even suggesting solutions to medical problems that researchers, doctors, and scientists are tackling at any moment.

In the healthcare industry, the demand for AI and technology, in general, is constantly growing. The World Health Organization reports that there are approximately 1.5 million medical devices globally, across more than 10,000 types. 

While the concept above is general, technology incorporated within healthcare can extend in different medical fields, including diagnostics, drug discovery, and clinical trials. 

The popularity of AI had formed a revolution of Software as Medical Devices, or SaMD’s, due to the lack of constraints, fast production, and improved health outcomes powered by data.

From all of the overwhelming impact, AI healthcare startups, in particular, have been partnering with large pharmaceutical companies, resulting in quite a lot of success.

Mobile coaching solutions use real-time data collection to advise patients and improve treatment outcomes. 

There are four primary machine learning initiatives within the top pharma and biotech companies, including mobile coaching solutions, personalized medicine, acquisitions, and drug discovery.

For example, pharma companies have been pushing telemedicine recently with other AI healthcare businesses specializing in minor diagnoses within smartphone apps. 

Personalized medicine is achieved with AI due to the technology’s ability to analyze large amounts of patient data to identify treatment options. Cloud-based systems are used more often to process natural language in this specific initiative.

Since startups are combining the world of healthcare and AI, more possibilities are available for large and powerful companies to acquire information, systems, and people working in advanced technology.

Drug discovery is one of the more important lessons AI healthcare startups can offer to major pharma businesses. Artificial Intelligence is used to its highest advantage due to its focus on time-saving and pattern recognition upon testing and identification of new drugs. 

BenevolentAI and Verge Genomics are healthcare startups that have excelled in drug discovery, as seen with their adoption of algorithms that essentially comb through portions of data for patterns too complicated for humans to comprehend. 

With those two startups in mind, time and innovation are saved in a manner in which humans are virtually not able to do.

Verge Genomics specifically uses AI in healthcare to discover more treatments and possible cures for ALS and Alzheimer’s. Their technology maps out hundreds of genes responsible for the development of diseases and then discovering drugs that target all of them.

Since 2013, about $4.3 billion have been raised by AI startups, topping all other industries. 

The success of the partnership of AI healthcare startups and pharmaceutical companies has been on the rise, as mentioned before.

Another vital addition healthcare startups can offer to large companies is the importance of AI in pharma to tackle diseases that have already been labeled as too difficult to take on.

According to Digital Authority Partners, 95% of rare diseases do not have a single FDA-approved treatment; thus, AI can change medicine and pharmaceuticals on a whole new level.

Without AI healthcare startups, pharma companies do not focus on the treatment of rare diseases because the ROI (Return on Investment) does not warrant the time and money utilized for the production of this drug.

As mentioned before, Verge Genomics is one of the AI healthcare startups that is going headfirst to this mission, but there are numerous others out there.

Tencent Holdings is a company that runs its business by focusing on Parkinson’s, an unfortunate and still incurable disease, along with UK-based Medopad. 

Together, the two companies build AI algorithms capable of remotely monitoring patients with Parkinson’s disease. The technology then reduces the time to conduct a motor function assessment from over 30 minutes to less than three minutes.

With these results, doctors will be able to remotely monitor patients and set new, personal drug doses. Patients benefit from AI incorporation in healthcare, as the cost of traveling will significantly decrease.

Pharma companies value drug adherence and dosage, and AI has proven to increase the success rate of these two qualities for more accurate and better drugs. Machine learning algorithms can cut incorrect drug dosage intake by more than 50%. 

Traditionally, measuring drug adherence requires patients to submit their date themselves without any evidence of taking a pill or any other form of treatment. 

AiCure is an AI startup that has been tackling a common problem within the pharma sphere by developing an image recognition algorithm. This piece of AI tracks drug adherence through a mobile device by videoing the patient taking the treatment with the facial recognition system confirming the identity of the patient.

Not only does AiCure aid pharma companies of drug adherence, but it also showcases the benefits of AI in healthcare and overall well being of people. The company’s AI platform ultimately increased adherence in schizophrenic patients.

Cumulative adherence using AiCure was at 89.7% rather than 71.9% for those with modified Directly Observed Therapy. Thus advanced technology combined with the medical field can reap significant results for pharma companies and the general public.

AI healthcare startups are becoming the up-and-coming industry that has been conquering the market and multiple medical avenues, including pharmaceutical companies. 

To continuously succeed, pharma businesses have room to improve, and artificial intelligence is the tool to use to put the supposedly impossible situations to bed. 

This article was contributed by Julian Gnatenco @ JGBilling

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