Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare: A boon to a country like India?

Artificial Intelligence(AI), Augmented Reality(AR) being the buzz words , and with a rapid increase in Digital platform/IoT adoption by half of the world today, how far can we bring these “amusing” concepts into reality in the practical scenario to make a difference in the society and solve challenging problems?

Healthcare is one industry that never fails to achieve consistent, constant state-of-art success and results in its research, to improve lives each day. A lot of research on how AI can change the healthcare blanket has been on the limelight for quite some time now, but how acceptable or challenging is it to a country like India?

In a country like India, with a population over 1.7 billion and more than 2.4 million deaths each year of “treatable conditions”, provided, they get access to quality treatment irrespective of their “rural” or “urban” labels. Glaring at certain challenges that we face like, lack of trained healthcare clinicians , infrastructure, and low government funding on healthcare, India is one of the countries in the world with the most room for innovative, sustainable and scalable healthcare technology to improve lives and also what’s more important above all these lies, the question of how faster and broader can the digital healthcare be scaled to start making an impact and change the statistics?

AI brings in a lot of potential into this industry. 70% of Indians die of Cancer annually, for the only reason that it gets detected in its last stages. Most ICU patients succumb to various infections that they acquire in the ICUs, one major being “SEPSIS” which I would as well name as the “SECRET SPY” in the body since it never really goes detected unless a patient succumbs to it. Over 55% of the deaths that happen in the rural areas are, because of absolute no treatment by a trained doctor. In the world as of today, AI in healthcare has reached a level where there are nanobots that can perform surgical operations, to a concept of a pill, 3D printed specifically to contain every medicine you are prescribedTo get India proliferating in this space, what we really need is the acceptance and adoption of digital systems, that could solve all the above problems. Imagine a patient in the rural areas, uploading his reports to a system as small as a smartphone that can analyze his condition and get him advice from a specialist sitting miles away, or a chronic heart patient who could be monitored real-time and be treated even before any complications occur. Imagine if we can save at least 10% of ICU patients from Sepsis in a single hospital through early detection, on average we would be saving more than 50% of the entire population across the country who would succumb to it. The kind of Impact AI gets here is something as “amusing” as the whole concept sounds.

There could be a wrong misconception about AI replacing doctors, since, AI was born into this world because of human’s natural intelligence, it only helps humans to work and think better, but does not replace them. A human mind cannot correlate hundreds of dimensions of a patient’s state to predict what might happen, which machines are capable of! It can process and analyze huge dimensions, features of a patient to analyze his outcomes and prevent from further state decompensation. It helps clinicians make better decisions and get better insights that could be actionable foresight through his data. The good news is, there is nothing in the healthcare area that AI hasn’t thrown light on! From analyzing raw clinical data to images, be it written clinical documentation, raw values collected from pathological reports, there is everything that is needed right in place to help a clinician understand a patient’s condition better and really make a colossal impact! For a developing country like ours, it would be practically challenging to digitize every corner, but all we have to do is at least, start to accept the change and the hope of improving the healthcare scenario, in the next five to ten years.

My final take as a data science engineer in this space is, this industry has a lot of AI to be explored yet and make an impact on how we can help clinicians make the right decision, that in turn would turntables for millions of patients by giving the right path towards quality and right treatment. Although this entire concept revolves around fine medical data for better foresight/ insights, there still lies the slightest potential that even a small amount of skewed data could bring a change that has made an appreciable impact on a patient!

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