The Next Big Wave
DataQuest|October 2020
The Next Big Wave
With remote healthcare becoming the new normal, India is fast adopting AI to improve human-machine collaboration and drive better patient care
Aanchal Ghatak

The introduction of information technology in healthcare at various points in history has been largely hailed as watershed moments. Nobody can doubt about the potential of artificial intelligence (AI). When it comes to healthcare sector in India, AI is the new age wheel or fire, which can revolutionize the entire landscape. Healthcare today, faces significant challenges on quality, accessibility and affordability, for a large section of the Indian population.

At its core, much of healthcare is pattern recognition. It is used across six healthcare segments: hospitals, pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, medical equipment and supplies, medical insurance, and telemedicine.

AI enables healthcare services to be delivered at minimum cost with increased efficiency, and an emphasis on the diagnostics. It is also used to predict, comprehend, learn and act. It has the ability to play the main role in the areas of wellness, early detection, diagnosis, decision making, treatment, research, and training. India comprises of a healthcare ecosystem where 80% of the healthcare is expensive. And, 70% of our population is living in rural areas with marginalized, inaccessible healthcare.

For a population of 1,280 million, India has 1,012,000 doctors. Of these, 74% cater to only a third of the urban residents. In other words, there are only about 263,000 doctors catering to the majority of Indians residing on the fringes of urban settlements and in rural areas. The applications of AI can improve the doctor’s efficiency and help in tackling challenges like uneven doctor-patient ratio by providing rural populations high-quality healthcare, and training doctors and nurses to handle complex medical procedures. An AI-enabled intelligent support system is required due to the budget constraints, rising costs of advanced medical treatments, increased complexity, and cost of delivering healthcare. There are the increased expectations and demand for quality patient-centered healthcare, as well.

This has resulted in multi-fold of benefits in areas such as drug discovery, personalized care for chronic diseases, predictive healthcare diagnosis, and automation of medical tests. It also enables efficient healthcare delivery and in detection of abnormalities through medical images. The utilization of data analytics to understand the causes of the pandemic is reflective of the substantial transformation in the potential of organizations and governments to collect a massive amount of data, and use AI algorithms to harness them. Covid-19 has turned out to be a blessing for healthcare. It has made the government and policy makers realize that the healthcare infrastructure needs to be improved drastically.

According to an IDC report “Artificial Intelligence in India Healthcare in the Time of Covid-19”, more than 50% of the healthcare organizations expect an increase in demand for AI-based solutions during and after the pandemic in the Asia-Pacific region (excluding Japan). This indicates the importance of healthcare tech and highlights that healthcare organizations in India are working towards enabling human-machine collaboration and AI-driven interfaces to address the future care needs in the country.



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October 2020