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Srinivas Prasad

Srinivas Prasad is the CEO of Philips Innovation Campus.

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Artificial Intelligence will Help Address the HealthCare Challenges in India

The potential role that AI can play in addressing the Healthcare challenges in countries like India is highly underestimated.

The developed and the developing world, both are reeling under the challenges of healthcare. The developed countries face issues of rising costs, aging population and increase in chronic diseases. While in the developing world, the added complexity of non-availability of access to basic care, coupled with a high incidence of chronic and communicable diseases is making healthcare even more challenging. To address this we need both conventional and technological approaches, conventional approaches like investment in infrastructure and machines and effective use of emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), IoT and Machine Learning.

AI in some form is already being used in several industries. The potential role that AI can play in addressing the Healthcare challenges in countries like India is highly underestimated. As per a research conducted by PwC across 12 countries (Europe, Middle East and Africa), 55% were willing to receive attention from advanced technologies. 73% were even willing to be under the supervision of a robot for a minor surgery.

AI can help to connect the patient’s health journey by adding context to information in every care situation at the hospital at home or in the community. This can help both the clinicians and the patients make better decisions on their health. Another area where AI can make a difference in is hospitals. There are several tasks that are performed by the administrative staff in a hospital which are repetitive. Deploying a dynamic model to learn the steps related to filling up a form or steps during patient admission can be automated to a large extent, thus increasing the efficiency of the hospital staff. This is nothing new and is already seen in the BPO industry where several tasks are being automated using Machine Learning.

Let’s take another example where AI helps in increasing accessibility to healthcare. A cardiologist is diagnosing a potential cardiac condition by reading ECG’s. Now, if he has the help of a model trained on thousands of ECG data-sets, it can help the cardiologist make faster and better decisions. This model can continue to learn from the cardiologist’s usage of the system over a period of time, making the model more accurate and effective. This helps a less experienced cardiologist in making better decisions or more productive as the case may be. This can be done even remotely as long as the ECG is in a digital form. This is the basic concept based on which Philips has deployed Chest Pain Clinics in India and other countries.

Another challenge in developing countries is the prevalence of communicable diseases. It is important that patients are screened earlier which would help to contain the disease. This is where AI can help. AI can be used in the automatic screening and early detection of some of these diseases. Take for example Tuberculosis. Highly effective models that have been trained on millions of data sets can identify the positive cases from a simple chest x-ray with a high degree of confidence. This can be an effective tool that can be used by clinicians in rural India for early screening, thus enabling early intervention and positive outcomes.

In the recent years, we have seen an increase in the incidence of chronic diseases in India. Chronic condition like COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases) needs to be managed throughout a person’s life time. This would mean constant monitoring of the patient. But constant monitoring comes at a cost and lot of challenges for the patient affecting his/her quality of life. But, if monitoring can be enabled remotely, this would not only help save costs for the patient, but also aid the pulmonologist to manage several patients. All this is possible only through AI. These are already being used by several companies including Philips Home Care services in India.

AI is playing an important part to be the game changer for the healthcare sector. We already see a huge advancement in this areas being applied across various fields in India. I believe that many of the AI solutions, if developed keeping the local context in perspective, the vision of “anywhere, anytime intelligent healthcare” will no longer be a utopian myth, but a reality in India!

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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