Will AI reshape the Indian Healthcare industry in 2019?

The emergence of AI in the healthcare experience will augment the sector and will enable all stakeholders in the ecosystem to collaborate and provide real-time solutions

By Akhila Srinath


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India is battling the ever-perpetual healthcare challenges of affordability and accessibility. While there are talks and many initiatives by the government, like the ambitious Ayushmaan Bharat scheme, the mammoth task of implementation still hovers given the scale of India's population.

The Current Health Care

To bridge this gap, the current breed of health-tech players has come up with various solutions using technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). Even though these piecemeal solutions bring relief to some of the existing challenges in the healthcare system, there is still a lot of ground to cover.

The current healthcare system is heavily dependent on tertiary care providers to deliver the most basic facilities and services. The ecosystem demands one comprehensive technology solution that will help make primary care more accurate and dependable, thereby also reducing the burden on the tertiary care segment.

Indian Ecosystem

The grim doctor to patient ratio adds to the woes of the Indian medical industry. According to a report, by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the healthcare delivery system will require an investment of around USD245 billion by 2034 and will need to pump in around 3.6 million doctors and 6 million nurses in the next 20 years. At present, there are only 1.1 hospital beds, 0.7 doctor and 1.3 nurses per 1,000 people.

To address this, new age companies are using AI to transform healthcare experience and to enable all stakeholders in the healthcare ecosystem to collaborate and provide real-time solutions. The technology infrastructure present has shown some promise and relief, but there remains a broader need for a comprehensive solution that caters to both aspects of the spectrum – patients and care providers.

Benefits of the New Innovation

Healthcare practitioners are recognizing the positive impacts of the use of emerging healthcare tech and are taking a step to adopt advanced technologies to reach more patients at a given time. In fact, some of these organizations are at par even with their Western counterparts. However, this digitization is yet to make its way through the government entities. When you go to the rural ends of the country, technology as a word is not even used in their healthcare operations.

The first step of this advancement is unifying and automating the patient data across hospitals. As a practice, this has already been implemented in advanced sectors such as finance and retail. Healthcare and technology as we see in 2019, are already going hand in hand with wearables generating technology and hospitals digitizing their mode of patient entry. But with petabytes of data being generated every day, albeit, in silos, the challenge is to make sense of this data and use it for improving patient outcomes.

Artificial Intelligence

Slowly, but interestingly –AI is making inroads into the Indian healthcare system and is breaking the silos by using the huge amount of data generated to create digital health records of individuals to provide real-time and targeted mobile health solutions.

New solutions such as ours, which is a virtual AI assistant, are helping hospitals manage their patient interactions and care delivery both pre, in between and post consultations. These solutions help manage and streamline the frontline operations at enterprise scale hospitals and help them improve their profitability. They not only save cost with intelligent interactions but also help doctors and other staff to be more productive while improving the patient experience.

These interactions start from the very first step when patients call the hospital/clinic for the first time and they have to wait for 10 minutes before they can even get through to the receptionist. It is a practice by hospitals to call patients about upcoming appointments that they have booked in advance which they are likely to forget. This is where AI steps in as it supports the non-clinical staff resolve all the queries or concerns the patients have. Scores of such activities are what makes a patient engagement truly worth remembering and the word of mouth generated from this patient experience is what can increase the revenue of the hospital.

India Leading the Revolution

India is one of the key AI services providers in various industries especially e-commerce, analytics services, etc. AI in healthcare is also seen in the form of image processing for lab diagnosis or radiology or skin images processing. But AI driven automation of hospital processes is not seen as such and has immense potential. We see that with digitization in the patient records and the patient data capturing formalizations, there is immense potential in bringing in operational effectiveness.

As a country, India should definitely look at investing in such technologies. And with the start-up ecosystem getting stronger, the future will see new disruptive innovations and experiences driving this change.

Akhila Srinath

Co-founder & COO, Praktice.ai

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