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What Is Computer Vision and How Can It Improve Healthcare?

Karol Przystalski c529978f2b

07/04/2020 |

7 min read

Karol Przystalski

The healthcare industry has already seen many benefits coming from the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) solutions. One of the emerging AI fields today is computer vision, which can potentially support many different applications delivering life-saving functionalities for patients. 

Computer vision is already assisting an increasing number of doctors to better diagnose their patients, monitor the evolution of diseases, and prescribe the right treatments. 

The technology not only helps medical professionals to save time on routine tasks and give more time to the patients.  The implications of computer vision for medical use based on tasks such as medical imaging analysis, predictive analysis, or healthcare monitoring suggest a host of benefits to the healthcare industry. 

Are you wondering what computer vision is and how it can help in health monitoring? You're in the right place. Read this article to learn everything you need to know about computer vision and its potential for improving healthcare systems.


Table of contents:

  1. What is computer vision?
  2. Applications of computer vision in health monitoring
  3. The future of computer vision in healthcare


What is computer vision?

The emerging field of computer vision focuses on training computers to replicate human sight and the understanding of objects in front of it. To accomplish that, computer vision takes advantage of artificial intelligence algorithms that process images. 

The goal of computer vision in healthcare is to make a faster and more accurate diagnosis than a physician could make. 

Currently, the most widespread use cases for computer vision and healthcare are related to the field of radiology and imaging. AI-powered solutions are finding increasing support among doctors because of their diagnosis of diseases and conditions from various scans such as X-ray, and MR, or CT.

Physicians who take advantage of the computer vision technology will be able to analyze a wide range of health and fitness metrics to make better medical decisions. Today, such tools are used by healthcare centers that measure blood loss during surgery, e.g. during C-section procedures. 

Moreover, the technology can also be used to measure body fat percentage of people using images taken with regular cameras. Computer vision offers a wide range of applications in health monitoring, bringing doctors closer to their patients, helping them to save time on analyzing images, and providing them with more accurate data to work with.

Applications of computer vision in health monitoring

Now that you know what computer vision is all about and what role it might grow to play in healthcare let's take a look at some of the current and prospective applications of this cutting-edge technology.

1. Measuring blood loss accurately

The Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies is using computer vision to measure blood loss during childbirth. One of the biggest causes of mortality in childbirth is postpartum hemorrhaging. An AI-powered tool analyzes pictures taken with an iPad, looking at the images of surgical sponges and suction canisters.

Before implementing the technology, physicians could only guess how much blood a patient has lost during childbirth. Since implementing the technology at a hospital where 14,000 babies are delivered annually, it turned out that doctors tend to overestimate the amount of blood lost by patients during delivery. Thanks to computer vision power, they can now estimate the amount more accurately and treat women appropriately.

2. Identifying problems faster

Another exciting application of computer vision is detecting various illnesses that are otherwise difficult to identify. At Mount Sinai hospital, physicians are using an AI-powered tool for detecting acute neurological illnesses. 

To achieve that, the hospital used almost 40,000 CT scans from across its health system to train a deep neural network to determine whether an image shows an acute neurological illness. The hospital tested their tool in a randomized controlled trial carried out in a simulated clinical environment. 

To achieve the infrastructure required for this type of project, the hospital invested in the Nvidia graphics processing units. In fact, Nvidia also partnered with the Scripps Research Translational Institute to create a center of excellence focusing on AI in genomics and digital sensors with the aim of developing best practices, tools, and infrastructure for biomedical research.

3. More precise diagnoses

Another potential application of computer vision systems is minimizing false positives in the diagnostic process. The technology could potentially reduce the number of redundant surgical procedures and expensive therapies. 

Computer vision algorithms can be trained using a massive amount of data that detect the slightest presence of a condition. A human doctor might easily miss out on it because of the sensory limitations of human bodies. By using computer vision in healthcare, the diagnosis can reach significantly higher levels of precision. Who knows, perhaps in the future it will even reach 100%?

4. Timely identification of diseases

Some diseases such as cancer are most dangerous when discovered late. That's why biomedical research concentrates on coming up with solutions for diagnosing them in the early stages. 

One of the approaches is based on computer vision. Thanks to computer vision tools, doctors will be able to detect the early symptoms with high certainty thanks to the pattern recognition capabilities of AI. As a result, they will be able to deliver timely treatment and save many lives in the long term.

5. Medical imaging

During the last few decades, computer-supported medical imaging applications have become significant assistance to physicians across different fields. Such solutions not only create and analyze images but also help doctors in their interpretation. 

Computer vision will take these applications to the next level. For example, a computer vision-powered application could read and convert scanned images into interactive 3D models that will enable medical professionals to understand the patient's health condition better and come up with a more accurate diagnosis.


6. More efficient medical processes

Doctors usually spend a lot of time analyzing reports and images. By implementing a computer vision power tool, they can free up a lot of their time and spend more of it with patients, providing personalized advice. 

By enhancing the quality of these interactions, such tools can help medical professionals to provide more patients with consultations. Using computer vision in healthcare means that providers can deliver more efficient services.

7. Nuclear medicine

This section of clinical medicine focuses on the use of radionuclide pharmaceuticals in diagnosis. In the context of remote radiation therapies, computer vision technologies can also serve to assist nuclear medicine. 

In diagnostics, physicians could take advantage of tools that will use single-photon emission computed tomography and positron emission tomography, and then analyze images with computer vision algorithms for greater accuracy.

The future of computer vision in healthcare

As the healthcare industry embraces more innovations and cutting-edge technologies, it will surely direct its gaze to computer vision. The technology offers assistance in many different areas of the medical practice, starting from the analysis of medical imaging to offering accurate data about phenomena that are hard to measure. 

In the future, we're going to see an increasing number of healthcare institutions experiment with computer vision to deliver better services. 

Would you like to learn more about how the healthcare industry is using technology to its advantage? Keep a close eye on our blog where our experts share their insights into the most recent developments in the field. If you're searching for a healthcare technology partner, don't hesitate to contact us!

Rated: 5.0 / 1 opinions
Karol Przystalski c529978f2b

Karol Przystalski

CTO at Codete. In 2015, he received his Ph.D. from the Institute of Fundamental Technological Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences. His area of expertise is artificial intelligence.

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