While the COVID-19 pandemic caused massive disruption across industries, it also gave us a real-time demonstration of artificial intelligence’s usefulness in certain sectors. One such area that AI has had a significant impact is healthcare. Throughout the pandemic AI has helped track infection spread, facilitated contact tracing, demonstrated to scientists how the disease impacts the body, and enabled the incredibly swift development of vaccines and treatments. There’s no doubt that AI has saved countless lives.

As AI’s involvement in the pandemic demonstrates, cutting-edge technology has an important role to play in healthcare. In fact, increasingly technology, particularly AI, is becoming encoded in the DNA of healthcare companies, especially in areas around drug and device development and patient care management. However, when it comes to protecting intellectual property, many healthcare CEOs limit their thinking to drug and device patents. As a result, companies that use AI are overlooking software patents as an important and valuable form of protection for their innovations.  Failing to obtain such software patents can leave innovative companies vulnerable to being knocked off by competitors in ways that could have been blocked by software patents.

This article will explain how AI is changing the healthcare landscape and why healthcare companies should seek to maximize the value of their technological innovations using software patents.

How the Healthcare Industry is Using AI

The healthcare industry is using AI across a number of areas, including diagnostics, drug development, and patient treatment. One of the greatest benefits of AI to the healthcare industry is that it can take massive datasets encompassing information such as medical records, allergies, genetic information, lifestyle choices, biometrics, and sleep and use machine learning to identify trends, patterns and anomalies, allowing for a better understanding of both a patient and a disease. Technology will allow for people to receive personalized medicine, including fine-tuned prescriptions and dosage

In the area of diagnostics, artificial intelligence could improve efficiency and effectiveness by combining various data sources to assist physicians in assessing symptoms. The same data sets could be used to scan for other diseases. In training, AI data analysis can help overcome biases, for example by illustrating how symptoms show up on different skin tones by encompassing numerous tissue samples from different demographics. Used in this way, AI can revolutionize medical and nursing schools.

Drug companies are already using AI to streamline the drug and vaccination development process, as we saw during the coronavirus pandemic. Developing drugs is traditionally laborious and costly, but it will get cheaper and more efficient as AI reads and analyzes existing literature to test how potential chemical and drug combinations interact with targets. While most companies think about patenting drugs and vaccines at the end of the process, the technological processes may also be patentable. In animal testing, AI can more quickly predict drug interactions. And in clinical trials, AI will be useful for participant modeling, data collection and analysis, and subject personalization.

For healthcare providers, AI can assist with or automate prescriptions, assist with real-time triage, and streamline medical records, bringing a patient’s history into one place.

Why Healthcare Companies Should Obtain Software Patents

Any healthcare company not using AI in research, development, and patient services is being left behind, and any company that uses AI but fails to protect its innovations with patents is at a disadvantage.

Big name companies have recognized the value in patenting software technology, including tech companies that have entered the healthcare industry and medical companies developing their own software. For example, Google has filed a patent application for software using machine learning to predict possible adverse medical events.

Smaller companies in the healthcare industry may have developed software using AI for drug development, device research, or patient care management without realizing the potential benefits of patenting the software itself. And the benefits are plentiful. Software patents can give the patent holder a competitive edge by locking out competitors from using certain tech to innovate. Patents also help companies generate revenue streams through licensing, provide a significant bargaining chip when negotiating deals with other companies, and serve to maximize company value when seeking funding or pursuing an acquisition or IPO.

How to Choose an Attorney for AI Patents

A company considering patents for software in the healthcare space should turn to a patent attorney experienced in drafting software patents. For many healthcare companies, this might be a different approach than what they are accustomed to. That’s because oftentimes healthcare executives usually think of patenting their end-products, such as drugs and devices, which necessitates turning to an IP attorney who focuses on the biological and chemical sciences. Patent attorneys who lack software patent experience may miss crucial elements in a patent application centering on AI and software, which can result in failing to obtain patent protection, or obtaining patent protection that is too narrow to be valuable.

An experienced patent attorney will know how to write a software patent application in a way that establishes the inventiveness of the software and that avoids challenging “patentable subject matter” rejections from the Patent Office. In 2014 the United States Supreme Court issued a decision known as Alice that narrowed the standards for the eligibility of software patents. Because of this change in standards, an attorney drafting a patent application must be well versed with computer technology and the law of software patents in order to satisfy the latest requirements of the Patent Office, and to bolster the patent against subsequent challenges in court.

The attorneys at Blueshift IP have successfully secured countless patents for healthcare companies. If you are interested in learning more about patenting your software, reach out to the attorneys at Blueshift IP at info@blueshiftip.com.

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