How AI Can Transform India's Healthcare

The future of AI could include tasks ranging from simple to complex level, writes IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) senior member, Sukanya Mandal

COVID-19 has pushed the world to a brink where technology has become an integral part of our lives more than ever before. These tech-enabled solutions have percolated in all domains; be it the students having their online classes, professionals working from home or AI-enabled research solutions in healthcare. These solutions have proven to be the enabler in equipping humankind for this enormous challenge the world is facing. It has undoubtedly become a driving force in the world. 

We are arriving at a new, augmented age where emerging technology like artificial intelligence (AI) will propel unconventional growth. The Industry 4.0 is paving way for intelligent technologies and AI is leading the way. AI enables optimum utilisation of resources, lesser wastage with a circular approach leading to sustainable development, thus improving human lives. If harnessed to maximum potential, the capability of AI is immense – it can re-shape the healthcare ecosystem. 

A recent survey by IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) highlighted that globally, a majority of millennial parents are extremely (29%) or very (31%) likely to allow robots powered by AI to conduct surgery on their child. Moreover, about half of parents globally in 2020 (54%) are extremely or very comfortable leaving their child in the care of an AI-powered virtual nurse during a hospital stay. This validates the potential AI has and the confidence millennial parents have when it comes to being confident about AI and emerging technologies for health and wellness of their families.

AI In Healthcare

AI has the potential to fuel better insights. It is creating new methods for analysing data, which is becoming less labour-intensive. It can also be used to alleviate common data problems. A recent IDC study revealed that India's AI spending will grow at 30.8% CAGR to nearly ₹6,490.6 cr. in 2023. While BFSI and Manufacturing verticals were biggest spenders, AI is opening new fronts in healthcare by fuelling predictive and prescriptive analytics to help increase efficiencies. 

AI and ML are now giving us new opportunities to use big data that we already had, as well as unleash new use cases with new data types. It is the most significant technology that is helping IT leaders in the new era of digitisation, especially in healthcare sector. AI is accelerating and redefining the healthcare sector in the following ways: 

  • Unifying mind and machine through brain-computer interfaces - Neurological diseases and trauma to the nervous system can take away the ability to speak, move, and interact meaningfully with people and their environments in some cases. Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) backed by AI has the ability to restore those fundamental experiences to those who feared losing them forever.

  • Developing the next generation of radiology tools - Radiological images obtained by MRI machines, CT Scans and X-rays offer non-invasive visibility into the inner mechanisms of the human body. But many diagnostic processes still depend on physical tissue samples obtained through biopsies, which carry risks including the potential for infection. AI has the ability to enable next generation of radiology tools - that are accurate and detailed enough, to replace the need for tissue samples in some cases.

  • Reducing the burdens of electronic health record use - EHRs have played an instrumental role in the digitization journey of healthcare industry, but the switch has brought innumerable problems associated with cognitive overload, endless documentation and user burnout. EHR developers are now using AI to create more intuitive interfaces and automate some of the routine processes that consume a lot of user’s time.

  • Containing the risks of antibiotic resistance - Antibiotic resistance is a growing threat to populations around the world as overuse of these critical drugs fosters the evolution of superbugs that no longer respond to treatments. Multi-drug resistant organisms can wreak havoc in the hospital setting and claim thousands of lives every year. Electronic health record data can help to identify infection patterns and highlight patients at risk before they begin to show symptoms. Leveraging AI/ML tools to drive these analytics can improve accuracy and create faster and more accurate alerts for healthcare providers.

If you look at today’s scenario, developing nations often face shortage of trained healthcare providers, including ultrasound technicians and radiologists which significantly limits access to life-saving care. AI could become a helping hand to humans by taking over some of the diagnostic duties, typically allocated to humans. With the spread of communicable diseases, adoption of AI in the system seems a safer route.  

AI's Efficacy & Accuracy

Today, AI is moving big data decisions to points further down the timeline, in more accurate ways, with the help of predictive analytics. Traditionally, big data decisions were based on past and present data points, generally resulting in linear ROI. With AI, it has grown to epic and exponential proportions. Prescriptive analytics, leveraging AI, amongst others have the potential to provide company-wide, forward-looking strategic insights in order to help advance businesses. It’s not a matter of eliminating human intelligence and insight. In fact, in order to augment intelligence for businesses, the amalgamation of human intuition and machine intelligence is of utmost importance. 

AI has huge and wide-reaching potential – everything falling under the same umbrella. The future of AI could include tasks ranging from simple to complex level. AI is evolving at a faster pace that one could have ever imagined. It is not only transforming businesses and organisations but also individuals. The ability that AI has and the impact that it will bring may be more profound and far-reaching in healthcare than any other industry.

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. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.