The symptoms are alarming: It might start with lightheadedness, or even a feeling of anxiety. You might detect a fluttering sensation around your heart, or a racing heartbeat. You could faint. But if you experience such symptoms only occasionally, your doctor might have trouble making a diagnosis.
For decades, heart specialists have been implanting insertable cardiac monitors (ICMs) to track sporadic heart arrhythmia. These subcutaneous devices have become the preferred diagnostic tool for prolonged heart rhythm monitoring since they were first developed in 1990. But ICM false alerts have been a problem ever since. Now, however, physicians are using artificial intelligence to reduce the incidence of ICM false positives. Last summer, Medtronic, a global leader in healthcare technology, introduced new AI algorithms to reduce false alerts from irregular or rapid heart rhythms and long pauses between heartbeats. Integrating these AI capabilities helps physicians better identify and focus on the data they need and personalizes treatment for patients’ lifestyles.
Since its founding in 1949, Medtronic has pioneered healthcare technology such as pacemakers, heart valves, and continuous glucose monitoring pumps. With today’s innovations, medical devices incorporate AI and insights from data to amplify impact across the entire healthcare industry, improving patient diagnosis and treatment.
Healthcare is a fitting application for AI because of the massive volume of data that is generated. “Patients expect care that’s smarter—and as accessible and convenient as ordering online,” says Geoff Martha, chairman and CEO of Medtronic. “Healthcare technology’s current golden age fulfills on those expectations—and it’s data that’s moving us forward.”
Using AI as a driving force, modern healthcare technology transforms data into personalized solutions. Many recent advances in the field are powered by AI. These solutions can improve patient outcomes, ease provider burnout, and even address inequities. “AI gives clinicians time to deliver better patient care,” says Bob White, executive vice president and president of the Medical Surgical portfolio at Medtronic. “At the same time, it delivers advanced, personalized medicine.”
THE BENEFITS OF AI
Here are some ways that advances in AI are helping health systems, clinicians, and patients, demonstrated by recent Medtronic innovations:
More accurate and efficient care
The company’s cardiac AI algorithms improve the insights healthcare providers receive from monitors, reducing false alerts, while its patient management platform detects lung nodules through imaging and data, then mines radiology reports in real time to streamline care.
Improving patients’ self-care
Their smart insulin pen tracks insulin doses for type 1 diabetes patients in real time, then offers personalized dosage recommendations via a mobile app. The recommendations reduce guesswork in daily injection regimens.
Improving surgeons’ performance
The company’s surgical video and analytics platform allows physicians to analyze and enhance their work. As the first AI-powered surgical video management and analytics platform, surgeons use it to record procedures; they can then access videos on mobile devices and computers to review, share, and discuss insights. AI technology divides surgery videos into segments to facilitate comparisons from one case to another, highlighting best practices, speeding training, and empowering surgeons to identify variations in procedures.
Speeding medical intervention
AI-powered image analysis is like another set of eyes for a clinician. Their intelligent endoscopy module uses AI to analyze images frame-by-frame, facilitating polyp identification in real time. A recent study published in the American Gastroenterological Association journal Gastroenterology found that the addition of AI greatly improved polyp detection in colonoscopies.
DELIVERING HEALTHCARE EQUITABLY
When algorithms get trained with data from patients who vary in gender, age, race, and other factors, AI reduces bias and removes barriers to care. With its partners, Medtronic is providing underserved communities with modules for colorectal cancer screening. This Health Equity Assistance Program could have an impact on up to 350,000 patients during the next three years. “This is building equity in healthcare,” says Giovanni Di Napoli, the Gastrointestinal business president at Medtronic. “Bringing these devices to underserved patients demonstrates a commitment to health equity that’s anchored in access to advanced healthcare technology.”
Medtronic is also applying AI to a collaborative pilot program to address disparities in prevention and treatment of sudden cardiac arrest. The condition (in which the heart abruptly stops beating) can be deadly if it isn’t treated within minutes. Implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) are usually recommended for long-term treatment and prevention. Medtronic-sponsored research shows women and people of color don’t receive ICDs as often as white men, even when the devices are medically indicated. This program identifies higher-risk patients sooner. Using data from diverse patient communities helps eradicate bias in selecting ICD candidates.
Patients, clinicians, and health system stakeholders are all looking to AI to personalize treatment, expand equitable access, and improve care outcomes. Medtronic harnesses the trillions of signals coming from patients to develop intelligent healthcare technology solutions that can strengthen, lengthen, and save lives. “Healthcare technology is about giving earlier insights to take action, and that’s what artificial intelligence does,” White says. “Data, analytics, and AI can help deliver better patient care and can impact the lives of millions of people.”