Artificial Intelligence in Cardiology 

Posted Jul 17, 2023 under:

The Future of Artificial Intelligence

With a rise in the use of artificial intelligence in healthcare, cardiovascular physicians are working to understand and integrate this new technology into their practices and procedures.

Doctor using AI

AI in Cardiovascular Care

How will healthcare, specifically cardiovascular care, change with the rise of artificial intelligence? Will the benefits for physicians and patients outweigh current fears early in its integration into everyday life?

The advancements in technology have revolutionized various industries, including the medical field. More specifically, in cardiology, artificial intelligence (AI) has emerged as a promising tool, offering reliable, specific, and efficient methods for delivering high-quality healthcare.  

Cardiology and its Complexities

Despite shared symptomatology and diagnostic features, accurately isolating heart-related problems can be challenging for doctors. Artificial intelligence aims to alleviate this challenge and improve the quality of care provided to patients. 

Context 

Cardiology has long been intertwined with technological advancements, utilizing various electronic monitoring equipment. Therefore, it is no stranger to the integration of technology. AI is set to play a transformative role in the field. Its potential impact is expected to extend beyond cardiology, revolutionizing healthcare delivery. 

AI’s Role in Cardiac Healthcare 

Complex algorithms help determine the relevant steps needed for successful diagnosis and treatment. AI methods have shown promise in predicting cardiovascular disease outcomes, non-invasive diagnosis of coronary artery disease, and detection of malignant arrhythmias through wearables. 

A notable example of AI’s application in cardiology is the study conducted by Dawes and colleagues in 2017. They developed an algorithm based on cardiac magnetic resonance imaging, which accurately predicted outcomes in patients with pulmonary hypertension. By analyzing the contraction patterns of thousands of points in the heart, the algorithm identified features associated with early death or right heart failure. 

Another area where AI is making an impact is in the interpretation of electrocardiograms. Traditional interpretation methods can be time-consuming, but AI methods aim to improve accuracy and assist with patient stratification. 

The Potential of AI to Alleviate Physician’s Burdens 

Administrative burdens, such as prior authorizations, consume a significant amount of physicians’ time, diverting their attention away from patient care. According to a report from the American Medical Association (AMA), surveyed physicians spend an average of two full workdays per week on administrative tasks, equating to approximately 14 hours. 

Furthermore, a survey by the American Hospital Association (AHA) found that 84 percent of employed physicians reported that administrative burdens negatively affected their employment decisions. Advancements in AI have the potential to alleviate these burdens by reducing administrative tasks, enhancing diagnostic accuracy, eliminating redundancies, and minimizing physician errors. 

AI Ethical Concerns 

AI is widely recognized in journal papers as an engineering tool with the attractive trait of eliminating human error. Compared to conventional approaches, AI offers the potential to protect patients from invasive procedures, save time and manpower, and minimize the inherent uncertainties of human judgment. However, the primary concerns surrounding the use of AI in cardiology revolve around ethical considerations. 

Many physicians perceive the usage of AI as having the potential to disrupt healthcare delivery in the foreseeable future. While it can lead to improvements in efficiency and diagnostic accuracy, there is also apprehension about the erosion of the physician-patient relationship and excessive reliance on algorithm-based clinical decision-making, which may, in some cases, result in poorer patient care and outcomes.  

Future Directions

Looking ahead, the future of AI in cardiology holds several possibilities. Continued research and development efforts will focus on refining AI algorithms, addressing ethical considerations, and enhancing patient safety. Collaboration between healthcare professionals and AI experts will be essential to harness the full potential of AI in cardiology and steer it toward a future that maximizes benefits while mitigating risks.

Resources

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/320213934_Artificial_intelligence_in_cardiology

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9608631/

https://www.beckersasc.com/asc-news/the-slippery-slope-of-a-disruptor-scaring-physicians.html#

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