Harry Glorikian’s ‘The Future You’ says the future of healthcare is in the hands of AI

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Harry Glorikian’s new book, The Future You, is an eye opening read on how rapid growth in Artificial-Intelligence-led research will transform healthcare.

AI AND MACHINE LEARNING are revolutionizing healthcare, cutting down on the time it takes to receive treatment, and detecting health issues faster than ever before. Expert Harry Glorikian explains how technology is changing the world in his new book, The Future You.

The year is 2001 and Steven Speilberg’s Artificial Intelligence is struggling at the box office. The eerie tale of a sentient AI seeking validation wasn’t well received when it first screened. Technology is terrifying, because it articulates needs before we realize we have them; it advances exponentially and at times responds to you in a flash. There are already apps and devices that you use every day that leverage AI and machine learning (ML) — you might not even be aware of what’s happening. Automatic tagging of images, talking to a voice assistant, and estimating your time of arrival to a destination, are all ways in which AI is put to use.

Glorikian entered the space of predictive analytics before AI or ML existed. In The Future You, he draws parallels with horse racing and gambling, where pros make predictions that take a range of moving parts into account. “In healthcare, we have lots of variables that we’re trying to correlate to say something is going to happen or something is happening,” says Glorikian. Advances in technology don’t always happen in small steps. The rapid transformation and increase in power of GPUs, sensors, and chips have helped the author connect the dots, revealing the bigger picture.

Glorikian’s has worked with companies such as Applied Biosystems and Scientia Ventures, companies that are at the intersection of tech and medicine. Active in research, his new book, explores the role of AI and ML in healthcare. Just how far can it advance? We’ve been battling against cancer since around 1600 BC and he believes AI and ML have a role to play against one of mankind’s oldest enemies. “Every tumor has a different personality and you need to sequence it so that you understand this personality.

Different applications of AI can help with making sense of that data and can translate it for the physician. If you identify the right gene sequence, then maybe a drug that is targeted can make a difference and attack that cancer and have the most meaningful outcome,” he says. Glorikian believes that advances in sequencing paired with AI could be the answer we are looking for. AI is also being used in the monitoring of liquid biopsy cancer therapy to help determine if the post-detection therapy is having a meaningful effect on the cancer. “And while that’s already available, we are starting to move towards a similar concept, which is [where] we take your blood even before you have cancer and we look for tumor DNA in the blood. Those studies are underway now, but I can imagine a day, not so far in the distant future, where you all go for a yearly blood test and they will be able to get ahead of anything that is forming.”

With such advances in preventive healthcare, outpatient care will become more common than inpatient care. Hours spent seeking appointments and receiving care will be dramatically reduced in the future, Glorikian explains in his book. Decentralization of hospitals is going to be the new norm, and doctors will be able to treat patients virtually. “Just go back five years, if you were to take a blood pressure check, you would need to go to a clinic, but now you just press a button and a device automatically records your blood pressure and transfers the information to your phone.

There are many new solutions becoming widely available and cheaper all the time,” says Glorikian. When humans become tired, or make simple mistakes, AI will fill in and doctors will be assisted by AI systems. If you’re still unclear on what this might look like, Glorikian paints a picture: “There are systems that are looking at radiology scans and it goes like, ‘Wait a minute, this person has bleeding in the brain.’ From prioritizing and sorting crucial imagery to highlighting signs of bleeding, predictive analytics can help monitor patients more effectively. Because of communication capabilities, I’m seeing companies implementing remote patient monitoring where the patient gets a box with equipment, the readings from which are automatically shifted to their physician’s electronic medical record system, and they can monitor their patients without physically having to see them. We basically see the problem before it becomes a big problem.”

Machines can only make use of the data they have. Crucial to the success of AI is how data is gathered. Researchers are working towards collecting data from diverse groups from all over the world in order to avoid biases. Glorikian cited the example of the Aravind Eye Hospital in Madurai, India, which is working with researchers in California to use AI to automate the process of diagnosing any medical conditions a patient might suffer from. “People will always say to me ‘It just did this’, but I am like, ‘Wait for a year, it’s going to be an order of magnitude, better or different.’ I’ve got a little ECG detector on my desk and it’s smaller than a credit card. When this first came out, it could only read one parameter of my heart. Now, a few years later, it can do six parameters of my heart. It’s the exact same device, only the software has gotten better.”

For AI to make lasting changes in healthcare, policy makers need to be on board. “It’s very difficult for people to appreciate how quickly it’s moving, and the impact it can have on the population, not just from a health perspective, but from an economic perspective,” Glorikian says. “What we did during the pandemic was something we’ve never done in the history of mankind. I’m hoping that government entities learn from it and not only implement safety measures, but also think about how they can modify their processes so that the drug development does not take as long as it normally does.”

While the benefits of AI are obvious, there are naysayers and conspiracy theorists whose skepticism paints an overtly pessimistic picture of the technological wave. “Every technology that is developed can be used for good or bad, right? The big difference with AI technology is that you don’t have to be the government to implement it. Anybody can start fooling around with what is available today. Areas that worry me include drones or weapons. I don’t think the average person can fully appreciate the damage those things can do. When it comes to what we’re doing in healthcare and so forth, other than biases being introduced once in a while and certain things sometimes not being tested enough, I see these things as incredibly positive in terms of what they are doing for mankind.”