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The technological revolution has brought unprecedented medical innovations. Today antibiotics and medication are well known and used, surgical procedures are safer and more efficient than ever, and easily accessible databases contain the comprehensive medical records of patients and guide doctors in choosing the most appropriate treatment options.
However, the technological growth of medicine has been uneven. While certain specialties have seen far-reaching improvements, others – most notably the musculoskeletal sphere – have fallen behind the curve to the detriment of millions and millions of patients.
Approximately 20 percent of Americans have chronic pain, and nearly 20 million Americans experience severe chronic pain that prevents them from working and enjoying life.
Musculoskeletal training is largely glossed over in medical schools, and consequently the lion's share of doctors today – through no fault of their own – lack the knowledge and experience necessary to effectively treat chronic pain.
However, the end of the prevalence of chronic pain and the overwhelming lack of access to quality care for patients seem to be in sight. The solution is simply artificial intelligence (AI).
In the not too distant future, Artificial Intelligence will optimize the way chronic pain is managed by making it easier for patients to find doctors and medical providers who have been shown to help people feel better.
Related: Huge untapped potential for artificial intelligence in healthcare
Why is there a chronic pain crisis?
Currently, virtually all patients with chronic pain after being injured in a sports accident, car crash, or other accident book appointments with doctors just because they are doctors – not because they have learned the basics of musculoskeletal medicine.
Patients rightly believe that their severe pain needs urgent treatment. However, since they do not know which health professionals are best suited to provide this care, they rush to get treatment that does not address the underlying problem and gives them the relief they deserve.
In addition, the nuances and complexities of chronic pain lead to another often overlooked element of the dilemma: even experienced musculoskeletal care providers specialize in repairing specific injuries and body parts. An otherwise highly qualified chronic care expert may not have the experience and background to provide optimal support to the person concerned.
AI is key to overcoming these and other hurdles in finding just the right provider for the injury.
Related: These are the most common and costly injuries at work
How AI can relieve chronic pain
Artificial intelligence is uniquely capable of guiding chronic pain sufferers to treatment that is best for their long-term health.
To initiate the process, AI assesses the patient's medical history, physical needs, and underlying health determinants before comparing this data with an up-to-date directory of all nearby chronic pain and musculoskeletal specialists.
This right off the bat guarantees that people will have the opportunity to choose a doctor whose skills will really help their condition.
From there, AI will further filter neighborhood care providers through a series of additional questions based on a range of preferences and needs disclosed by patients, including affordability and distance, as well as the overall effectiveness of healthcare professionals in managing chronic pain, as can be seen from historical records of the success of the treatment.
Objective third parties will curate these historical records and other statistics. Bias-free AI suggestions, in turn, only consist of the top 20 percent of specialists in a certain area.
AI has the potential to empower the 50 million or so Americans who already suffer from chronic pain – and those who will unfortunately suffer from it as a result of a future accident – the opportunity to find reliable care and feel responsibility for their health do your best and conquer one of the most insidious and neglected ailments of society.
Related: 3 Of The Best Uses For AI In Our New Normal
A future with less pain
The widespread use of AI to map chronic pain treatments won't happen overnight, but all signs suggest that they will become commonplace sooner rather than later.
Contemporary technology is more than capable of doing the job, and it goes without saying that quite a few patients strive to alleviate their chronic pain. Every step the medical community takes today to implement AI solutions in the chronic care arena will pave the way for significant improvements tomorrow.
And at some point in the near future, doctors, trauma treatment professionals, and patients alike will find that the landscape of chronic care has changed dramatically, and that its evolution has been driven by the advent of AI.