Machine learning in healthcare:
use cases, examples & algorithms

Machine learning in healthcare: use cases, examples & algorithms

February 27, 2024

Machine learning in healthcare is used to draw insights from large medical data sets to facilitate clinicians' decision-making, improve patient outcomes, automate healthcare professionals’ daily workflows, accelerate medical research, and increase operational efficiency.

Dedicated machine learning experts will help you estimate the needs of using machine learning, its benefits and risks, and seamlessly adopt it in your medical practice to streamline clinical data processing and enhance patient care.

Machine learning in healthcare market overview

According to WHO, 10 million more health workers will be needed by 2030. However, the shortage of skilled medical professionals can be partially mitigated by artificial intelligence-based machine learning technologies that can improve the efficiency of care delivery and free healthcare professionals' time for a more personalized approach to each patient.

share by application, 2022 (%)

Scheme title: Global AI/ML technology in healthcare market
Data source: — AI in healthcare market, 2024–2030


CAGR of the global AI/ML in healthcare market from 2023-2030

Grand View Research

$102.7 bn

expected AI in healthcare market size by 2028

Research and Markets


more time physicians can dedicate to patients due to AI implementation


9 use cases of machine learning for healthcare

There are multiple applications of machine learning in healthcare, from patient apps, e-triage tools, and online symptom checkers to virtual agents and bionic pancreas for patients with diabetes. Let's delve deep into some popular ML use cases and real-world examples to help you grasp its potential value for your own healthcare practice.

Disease outbreak prediction

Nowadays, satellites can collect massive data volumes, including real-time and historical data. Predictive analytics tools help aggregate this data and forecast potential disease outbreaks. One example is predicting malaria outbreaks by analyzing monthly rainfall, temperature, and similar parameters. This can be particularly relevant in third-world countries that lack medical infrastructure and the necessary education to combat those diseases. Knowing about such critical outbreaks upfront, governments can take precautions in order to minimize the negative impact and save lives.

Example: ProMED reporting disease outbreaks online

ProMED (the Program for Monitoring Emerging Diseases) offers an online real-time data analysis and reporting system showing outbreaks of infectious diseases worldwide and any exposure to toxins affecting human or animal health. ProMED aggregates data from various sources, including official, media, and subscriber reports. An expert team reviews these reports before they are accepted into the system. The data provided by ProMED is aggregated in a HealthMap to visualize disease outbreaks in every country.

Example: ProMED reporting disease outbreaks online

Image title: HealthMap by ProMED
Image source:

Patient behavior modification

Many prevalent diseases are manageable or even avoidable. For example, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart diseases in some cases can be detected at early stages or avoided by practicing a healthier lifestyle. However, adjusting the lifestyle requires a change in behavior with the help of constant reminders and follow-ups. For this purpose, machine learning algorithms can aggregate health data incoming from patients' connected medical devices and sensors to generate insights into their behavior and guide them during this transformational journey.

Example: Altering smoking habits with SmokeBeat

SmokeBeat is a smoking cessation app that passively gathers data on the user’s smoking behavior. The application uses an accelerometer on a smartwatch or a smart band to detect hand-to-mouth gestures. SmokeBeat processes this data and offers real-time cognitive behavior therapy incentives. User responses to those incentives are constantly measured and recorded to improve effectiveness. Additionally, SmokeBeat compares users' smoking data with their peers of choice, creating a supportive social network.

Virtual nursing

Healthcare facilities use virtual nurses to streamline multiple processes, including appointment scheduling and reminders, medication and chronic disease management, post-discharge care, health alerts, and emergency response. Virtual nurses are computer-generated avatars that are designed to be social, empathic, and informative and can interact with patients. They are available 24/7 and can quickly answer patient questions in-between doctor visits.

Example: Streamlining remote care with Molly

One example of a virtual nurse is Molly. This female avatar can remotely monitor medical conditions, receiving data such as blood pressure and weight from patients' monitoring devices connected via Bluetooth. These devices are positioned in patients' homes, which makes it convenient to take measurements as often as needed. Molly can recognize speech and verbally answer patients' queries. It also offers a chatbot for private discussions.

Example: Streamlining remote care with Molly

Image title: Virtual nursing

Medical imaging

Even with all the advancements in healthcare technologies and data science, medical image analysis is a tedious task prone to human error since it requires great attention to detail. Machine learning, in turn, can identify even the subtlest changes in X-ray, CT, or MRI medical scans and help radiologists in detecting and diagnosing diseases.

Example: Improving image quality with SubtleMR

For example, SubtleMR, developed by Subtle Medical, is a machine learning-based software solution that improves the quality of MRI protocols. With the help of denoising and resolution enhancement, SubtleMR improves image quality and the sharpness of any MRI scanner. For example, RadNet, a US leader in outpatient imaging with 335 centers nationwide, accelerated its protocols by 33-45% after adopting SubtleMR technology.

Example: Improving image quality with SubtleMR

Image title: SubtleMR
Image source:

Accurate diagnostics & identifying high-risk patients

In healthcare, inaccurate or incomplete diagnosis can be detrimental to patient outcomes and, in the worst-case scenarios, lead to death. To address one of the most apparent healthcare challenges, many companies are tapping into machine learning to make medical diagnostics more accurate. Moreover, by combining machine learning-powered pattern recognition and automation, clinicians can considerably reduce the time it takes to identify high-risk patients. ML systems can process PHI and stratify them into different risk groups, based on the detected risk levels.

Example 1: Predicting syndromes with Face2Gene

The Face2Gene precision medicine app uses machine learning-enabled facial recognition technology that helps clinicians to diagnose rare diseases more accurately. With the help of machine learning, Face2Gene can detect phenotypes, reveal relevant facial features, and evaluate the probability of a patient having a particular syndrome.

Example 2: Detecting high-risk patients with UiPath and Amitech

A mixture of optical character recognition and natural language processing helps structure and organize patient records. Then an RPA bot feeds this data to a machine learning system that scores patients for risks, provides them with a tailored healthcare plan, and alerts the appropriate clinicians and care managers about high-risk patients so the former can take immediate action. Besides significantly improving patient outcomes, the process now takes only minutes instead of days or weeks.

Robot-assisted surgery

Using robots in healthcare systems is not a new trend. ML-powered robotic surgery assistants increase precision, can access different areas of the human body with minimal intervention, and reduce the length of some operations, alleviating the pressure from human surgeons. Robots can assist in performing complex surgeries, minimizing patient trauma and recovery time, and are indispensable in microsurgery.

Example: Improving surgical outcomes with Senhance Surgical System

Senhance is a console-based, multi-armed surgical system that allows surgeons to control it remotely. The system heavily relies on machine learning and deep learning models to bring the most challenging healthcare ideas to reality. For example, during the preoperative stage, a machine learning-driven database allows surgeons to go through simulation training. Then, during surgeries, based on data from the eye-tracking camera, the system's Intelligent Surgical Unit can automatically adjust the camera view and predict when a surgeon needs to zoom in or enhance images in real-time.

Example: Improving surgical outcomes with Senhance Surgical System

Image title: Senhance Surgical System
Image source:—Russia Introduces First Asensus Surgical Senhance Robotic System

Drug discovery

Drug discovery is an expensive and lengthy process. Researchers test thousands of elements and their combinations until one of them becomes a viable drug. Machine learning algorithms are used in the drug discovery process for the following purposes:

  • Minimizing clinical trial duration by predicting how potential drugs will perform
  • Identifying combinations of existing drugs that can form a new treatment
  • Discovering new drugs based on compound testing
  • Finding new uses for previously tested substances
Example: Accelerating oncology research with IBM Watson

The pharmaceutical company Pfizer is using IBM Watson for its immune-oncology research. While a human researcher can read around 300 articles a year, Watson processes one million journal articles and data on four million patents. Using machine learning-generated insights, Pfizer employees can identify non-obvious connections and help create treatment plans out of drug combinations.

Example: Finding cures to diseases with Google’s Deep Mind

Another example is AlphaFold, a machine learning-powered system built by Google’s DeepMind that can automatically predict protein structures. Reliably predicting how different proteins interact with each other is a vast biological breakthrough, as it can significantly accelerate drug screening and development. In 2021, Google also launched Isomorphic Labs, a company that will use AlphaFold’s technology to find cures for prevalent diseases.

Hospital management optimization

With the ever-growing demand for healthcare services, hospitals’ enterprise management systems are becoming increasingly chaotic. However, carefully tuned machine learning-based systems can master administrative data processing and facilitate most hospitals’ executive functions, including staff scheduling, supply chain and inventory management, resource allocation, medical records management, and compliance monitoring.

Example: Optimizing staffing with

A Norway-based company created a system to help healthcare institutions streamline staffing. With the help of natural language processing and machine learning, the system can match healthcare employees to specific tasks based on their skill sets, making task scheduling far more efficient. Importantly,’s system considers legal requirements when making scheduling decisions. For example, in some cases, the law limits the number of working hours or requires a professional with particular expertise to be present during a certain procedure.

Health insurance

Health insurance is an essential component of the healthcare industry and critical in making healthcare accessible. However, there is plenty of room for improvement in mostly manual-based processes of health insurance. For example, machine learning-enabled pattern recognition algorithms can assist in early fraud detection. Rule-based fraud detection systems that the majority of health insurers currently use can flag too many claims as potentially fraudulent. Machine learning systems, on the other hand, learn and gradually decrease the probability of false positives. Machine learning can also help automate different health insurance processes, including credit underwriting, risk assessment, claims to process, and customer support.

Example: Optimizing health insurance with Maya Intelligence

For example, Temple University Health System (TUHS), a nationally-recognized academic health system in Philadelphia, partnered with Accolade, which provides the Maya Intelligence platform to help patients choose the most appropriate healthcare coverage option. The system utilizes machine learning to analyze medical claims, lab results, and other relevant patient information to offer tailored healthcare plans to patients. As a result of the implementation, TUHS has saved more than $2 million in healthcare claim costs and achieved a 50% increase in employee engagement.

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5 companies using machine learning in healthcare

Numerous companies worldwide use machine learning to increase the quality, accessibility, and interoperability of healthcare systems with the ultimate goal of improving patient health.

The tool uses machine learning algorithms to optimize care coordination and improve communication between healthcare professionals. streamlines care by quickly connecting frontline healthcare providers to specialists, resulting in faster case resolution and improved patient outcomes.

The Deep Genomics’ artificial intelligence-powered platform accelerates research by helping healthcare professionals quickly find candidates for the development of drugs for specific disorders. The company uses machine learning to identify and trace potential causes of genetic diseases. The system can figure out how a person’s mutation changes their DNA and triggers disease. Better yet, the ML-enabled solution can analyze millions of potential medicines within hours and tell researchers which medicines have the best chances of working.

Intuitive Surgical is the developer of the most widely used machine learning-powered surgical system called Da Vinci. The Da Vinci Surgical System allows surgeons to perform robotic-assisted, minimally invasive surgeries that significantly improve surgery outcomes.

Oncora Medical is a Philadelphia-based startup that streamlines cancer research and treatment. By collecting large amounts of data from medical records, EHRs, cancer registries, and other software systems, Oncora’s platform can assess care quality and suggest better treatment methods. Oncora treats the development machine learning models like a biopharmaceutical company approaches medicine development. Each ML model undergoes a thorough assessment consisting of several phases.

Oncora Medical

Image title: Oncora ML-powered analytics solution for cancer treatment
Image source:

PathAI uses machine learning to help pathologists to make more informed diagnostic decisions. The company delivers algorithms for clinical trials and develops ML models that can optimize the analysis of patient tissue samples. PathAI works with renowned drug developers and healthcare organizations to extend the reach of artificial intelligence and machine learning in healthcare.

7 benefits of machine learning in healthcare

Here are some of the advantages healthcare organizations gain by implementing machine learning:

Automated routine tasks

From streamlining EHR processes to virtual nursing, machine learning can help healthcare professionals automate many routine and repeatable tasks and reduce operational costs.

Improved decision-making

By detecting patterns in enormous healthcare data sets, machine learning helps clinicians to streamline diagnostics and improve decision-making, therefore enhancing patient outcomes.

Enhanced patient experience

With the help of chatbots and virtual assistants, healthcare organizations can improve patient experience by streamlining access to basic healthcare services.

Accelerated innovation

By optimizing drug discovery and development, machine learning helps pharmaceutical companies to reduce time-to-market and research costs.

Extended access to healthcare

With efficiencies unlocked by machine learning, organizations can help more patients without compromising care quality.

Reduced risks

ML adoption allows for early detection of serious illnesses, reduced risks during robot-assisted surgeries, and quick identification of high-risk patients.

Refined data governance

Machine learning algorithms can help healthcare organizations identify inconsistencies within disparate healthcare datasets, cleanse data, and validate its integrity.

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Machine learning challenges in healthcare

While machine learning has immense potential to transform healthcare, it’s critical to consider the challenges and risks associated with its implementation.



1Lack of data


The lack of clean, structured data is an overarching problem for organizations across every industry. Still, training and deploying value-adding machine learning models requires companies to reimagine their approaches to data governance. Given that datasets from one organization rarely suffice for model training, engineers obtain patient data from other healthcare organizations. The problem is that the majority of these datasets are incompatible with each other.



Enforcement of industry-wide data governance frameworks is paramount at this point. Standardization of medical data requires equal effort from governmental bodies and industry players. For example, in 2022, the White House-led National AI Research Resource (NAIRR) team issued a comprehensive interim report that outlines recommendations around data collection and aims to extend access to medical data for more AI companies and researchers.



While all machine learning applications can suffer from bias, its implications in healthcare are the most concerning. To put it simply, given that it's humans who train machine learning algorithms, our existing biases inevitably creep in. What's even more daunting is that ML models do not only sustain these prejudices but often amplify them.



The importance of unbiased and equitable data is recognized at the governmental level. In 2021, the Biden administration formed the Equitable Data Working Group to ensure that historically underserved communities get equal access to healthcare services. Importantly, enforcing robust standards to make different datasets interoperable is also on the group's agenda. Both NAIRR's and the Equitable Working Group's initiatives are instrumental in maximizing the effectiveness of machine learning and reducing the probability of bias.

3Lack of strategy


In most cases, machine learning brings tangible long-term benefits when all parts of the organization support its adoption. But since machine learning has a much more drastic impact on conventional healthcare workflows than the majority of other technologies, it can require some changes in usual processes.



Understandably, many organizations are reluctant to undergo significant changes for the sake of technology adoption. However, they should make an effort to redefine team roles, invest in change management, and launch workforce reskilling programs. Moreover, according to a recent Deloitte survey, the majority of industry leaders believe that these initiatives will inevitably prove worthwhile in the long term.

4Limited in-house expertise


Integrating such a complex technology as machine learning into intricate healthcare workflows requires both excellent technical skills and a deep understanding of medical science. On the one hand, many ambitious AI startups fail to incorporate clinical expertise during the early phases of development, while, on the other hand, many credible and experienced clinicians have insufficient understanding of machine learning to provide tangible input.



This is why for artificial intelligence startups tapping into healthcare should assemble a multifaceted team. It’s not only important to hire exceptional talent in multiple fields but also to ensure that data scientists, machine learning engineers, medical professionals, legal advisers, and other experts can collaborate with each other.

Unleash the power of ML

While the benefits of machine learning in healthcare are apparent and indisputable, its implementation requires significant resources and operational changes within medical organizations, which can't happen overnight. Still, while the demand for healthcare services is growing, banking on ML technology remains the best solution. For machine learning and artificial intelligence to solve healthcare legacy challenges, medical institutions must shift from tests and pilot projects to fully-functional machine learning solutions. And Itransition's ML experts are here to help.

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