Artificial Intelligence is Knocking: The World of Healthcare Will Never be the Same Artificial intelligence is setting new unprecedented trends to lead the path-breaking innovations in the healthcare space

By Neeraj Katare

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Gone are the days when grey hair and experience was the most critical recipe to run a business successfully. With data-driven insights being available at an affordable price, it is all about predicting the future and making your next move accordingly. Healthcare is no exception.

Traditionally, the Indian healthcare sector is known to have high operational cost, inaccessibility, and below par quality standards.

However, artificial intelligence and machine learning are set to bring some unparalleled changes in the industry. Before we deep dive into the nature of these changes, it is good to measure the size of global business opportunity that artificial intelligence in healthcare space presents.

According to consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, the global healthcare artificial intelligence market will witness about 40 per cent CAGR between now and 2021, largely. This is due to the fact that artificial intelligence has the potential to improve health care outcomes by 30 to 40 per cent and bring the costs of treatment in half.

Here is how the Indian healthcare industry is set to benefit from it:

Smart Diagnostics

Diagnostic errors are a major reason for prolonged ailments, treatment complications, or fatalities at hospitals. As exceptionally skilled as most diagnostics experts are, they are all humans.

Let us understand this in greater detail. Finding the presence or absence of cancer in a patient's lymph nodes is a routine job for pathologists. However, there could be times when they lose concentration and miss some malignant cells among millions of normal cells. Such a miss could cost the life of a patient.

On the other hand, an automated diagnostic tool powered by a deep learning algorithm can be programmed to differentiate between cancerous and usual cells. The reports provided by such a tool can complement the observations of a human pathologist to make the results error free, to a large extent.

The above case can be extrapolated to improve diagnostics for almost every medical condition. Hence, we can expect to save many more lives in the coming days.

Intelligent Supply Chain: The vast healthcare market in India is made up of government hospitals and care centre, large multispecialty private hospital chains, small boutique speciality clinics, and then very small clinics run by doctor-entrepreneurs. Each of them has their own ways to manage supplies, with different negotiation powers. However, with uberisation of healthcare supplies, all of them have the chance to subscribe to a group purchase organization which aggregates demand from them and works like a single buyer from large distributors.

The group purchase organization can run an artificial intelligence engine to predict the replenishment requirements for these buyers, basis their past consumption trends, seasonal requirements, and any exceptional trends. Think of a situation when a doctor running a small clinic in a village gets an alert on his smartphone to stock medicines for dengue because the season is around the corner.

This takes away his time for keeping a check on supplies and allows him to focus on his core job. At the same time, suppliers can also be prepared to supply the items that will be in high demand in the near future.

Healthcare marketing

The demand-supply gap has always kept the Indian healthcare market in favour of the providers. Therefore, they never had to worry about bringing any innovative methods for marketing themselves. Positive word-of-mouth was more than enough to make a healthcare business shine.

However, as the competition from new age start-ups rises, the scenario has changed. To make a healthcare business stand out amid the clutter, marketing push is a must. For a digital savvy population such as India (second largest smartphone base), marketers have an opportunity to access lifestyle trends, digital healthcare data, and history of pharmacy orders placed by a customer and target the automated digital communication accordingly.

This customized targeting is more relevant and cost-effective as compared to the mass advertisement, which may not appeal to all.

The scope for artificial intelligence to enhance the healthcare industry does not conclude here. The above points are merely starters. In the future, artificial intelligence will set some new unprecedented trends and lead to path-breaking innovations in the healthcare space. The need of the hour is to create a supportive ecosystem to encourage research and investment in this direction.

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