Is Artificial Intelligence the key to unlock the limitless possibilities in Healthcare?

By : |January 17, 2020 0

Digital technologies are changing at an unprecedented pace with more and more IoT devices, wearables, sensor-enabled devices, cloud storage etc. coming up, and we are using them at a similar pace. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are taking the major scoop of technological development and leading the digital transformation era.

While entering the new decade with digital transformation, industries like Manufacturing, Banking, Automotive and Healthcare etc. are transformed in a manner that, there are certain tasks on which machines are swifter than humans.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is embedded deep across many industries, but in healthcare, it is transforming how the sector operates from research to drug development and hospital care to insurance. Not only that, AI is helping human physicians make better and informed decisions to save lives while reducing spending and improving patient outcome.

The healthcare sector has lately been through various challenges, plethora of disparate patient data being one of them. The huge amount of patient data collected by life sciences companies can be extremely beneficial to offer custom and precise treatment to the patient.

However, going through the data to analyse and draw decisions for patient-care can take up a lot of time of an individual. That is where AI and Machine Learning (ML) are saving the day, by making data intelligent and to predict, prevent, and treat diseases more effectively and efficiently.

AI is changing the healthcare industry for the betterment of humanity. From benefiting the diagnosis process to monitoring condition and from drug discovery to assisting in robotics surgery etc. The technological innovation can solve various healthcare challenges in India. Rapidly growing middle class in China and India using digital tools to research lifestyle diseases.

The major challenge our country faces is meeting the minimum standards of shortfall of doctors as we only produce 50,000 doctors every year; taking responsibility for over 1.3 billion people and counting. As per the WHO recommendation, there should be a minimum of 1:1000 of a doctor-patient ratio.

The country’s growing population will thus need 2.3 million doctors by 2030. However, early experiments by many healthcare startups hold some answers to push healthcare in India into the future and ease the burden on India’s healthcare system. Moreover, in healthcare, response time of medical treatment is a crucial aspect.

AI can enable doctors and nurses to act quickly and effectively. With ready medical history combined with quick analysis of the patient’s condition, AI can possibly offer solutions for best diagnosis to the doctors, eliminating any possibility of a trial and error of incorrect diagnosis. This could be a solution to the problem of shortage of doctors in our country.

For India, it is imperative to design and develop technology that considers the local constraints, affordability being a major aspect. For it to succeed and make a difference at scale, new technology must be appropriately priced for the country and developed to tackle its constraints.

If implemented correctly, AI boils down to redistributing scarce expert knowledge to many beneficiaries by training algorithms machines to replicate this knowledge. AI that brings human-like perception, is an ideal solution to fill the demand gap between patients and doctors and serve the purpose of making quality healthcare available to the masses at scale. Indian companies are running pilot projects using AI/ML in some of the diagnostic systems and treatment protocols.

Leading technology companies such as Google and Microsoft are a great example of how new-age technologies are best leveraged to empower doctors and better serve patients. From early detection of life-threatening diseases, to prevention of heart and eye diseases, technology has proven to be a great backbone for the healthcare industry. These companies are not just limiting technologies to hospitals, but also making mobile applications – powered by AI to make people with disabilities be more productive.

The healthcare industry had been facing various challenges for many years, thanks to technology, we are today able to overcome these challenges. One can witness ‘health tech’ in form of online health service aggregators, apps for home delivery of pharmaceutical which is aimed at urban, educated consumer.

Technology developments are being used to reinvent healthcare technology which is in form of chat-based healthcare services or online consultants. These re-inventions are bridging resource gaps and unleashing the potential of AI to offer solutions.

A steady growth in the adoption of technology in the healthcare industry is being noticed. While the ecosystem still has certain gaps in terms of technology investments and its accessibility across the country, the future looks promising.

The entire country is progressing to become digital, and there is a belief that the healthcare sector too is focused to evolve and adapt to the changing nature of medical science. While the possible benefits that AI can offer in the field are yet to be fully explored, there is a positive sentiment about how AI can be a breakthrough in healthcare.

   Ambuj Kathuria, Global Head, Data & Analytics, Birlasoft

AI

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