‘AI will build higher outcomes in patient care and healthcare management’, Health News, ET HealthWorld

'AI will build higher outcomes in patient care and healthcare management'

Madhav Bissa, Programme Director, Data Science & Artificial Intelligence, NASSCOM spoke to ETHealthWorld’s Prathiba Raju on the necessity of building a good AI healthcare model and how it will drive the utilisation of data and could play a crucial role in realising India’s 2025 vision of inclusive development and deliver over $500 bn in value for the economy.

AI is certainly disrupting several sectors, but how is it addressing complex challenges in the areas of health?

AI is no longer just an innovative technology, but a strategic imperative to tackle the complex challenges evolving in the healthcare industry. Some of these challenges include an overabundance of data, human errors, solving complexities of medical imaging, and managing the workloads of the healthcare staff and medical providers in times of emergencies. AI has the potential to offer an agile operating structure that balances healthcare solutions and manages back-end processes without any glitches. It also helps in optimising costs and helps in the development of various products and services. It is aligned with multiple applications in the healthcare industry and continues to grow with technological advancements. AI has the potential to enhance preventive care and offer a more accurate diagnosis, leading to better healthcare outcomes.

Additionally, AI helps in predicting and tracking rare diseases, helping medical practitioners globally combat many epidemics and pandemics. The technology also helps in extracting more data sets from a single image and at the same time would offer unparalleled security for the stored data. As per NASSCOM’s AI Adoption Index, AI has opened up multiple avenues for improving healthcare systems and is expected to generate $25 bn of economic value add for India by 2025.

What kind of impact is AI bringing in the healthcare ecosystem, how is it going to be transformational when it comes to public health in India?

India’s healthcare market has grown 3X+ from $110 bn in 2016 to $372 bn in 2022. Rising incomes, awareness around self-care, and more state-led health initiatives have been accentuated by cutting-edge healthcare technologies. From remote diagnostics to robotic surgeries, to preventive healthcare analytics, the scope of AI has widened to a large extent, enabling the healthcare ecosystem to reach higher standards in patient care and management.

AI possesses vast potential in streamlining the public healthcare segment, enhancing its efficiencies, and transforming it into a world-class service. Technology has been very helpful in dealing with COVID-19 in India. It has helped in the preliminary screening of COVID-19 cases, containment of coronavirus, contact tracing, enforcing quarantine and social distancing, tracking of suspects, treatment and remote monitoring of COVID-19 patients, vaccine and drug development etc. In addition to this, AI offers proper monitoring of health facilities, allowing doctors and officials to make sound decisions and solve public health issues by analysing data in real time.

Going forward, to make the role of technology more prominent in public health, the government needs to encourage the healthcare sector to adopt new-age technologies, it can further encourage public-private partnerships in the domain of AI and health, bring forward constructive policies that have the potential to address issues like the privacy of AI-driven healthcare data.

Can you tell us how AI can streamline healthcare data both in the private and public healthcare domain?

The public healthcare domain requires a holistic and nationwide healthcare system which can not only serve the population at large, but also timely predict epidemic outbreaks, enable treatment strategies, and optimise health resource allocation. And AI enables the development of such a system at a larger scale in lesser time. One of the key success factors for a successful implementation of this kind of healthcare system is the streamlining of the data acquired.

An inherent characteristic of building a good AI model is the ability to discern, manage and visualise the data which come in through various sources and are of different types. Thus, the implementation of AI models will ensure that the data acquired and utilised are streamlined, else the models will not be able to produce reliable and relevant output that is critical for public health management.

Using AI-based applications combined with effective data management practices, hospitals can acquire and analyse patient data effectively and efficiently, enabling them to offer telemedicine and teleconsultation with better success rates of treatment. The hospitals can formulate effective data utilisation strategies to help them not only serve the patients but also bring in efficiencies in their operations. AI, thus, helps hospitals in streamlining supply chains and operations.

With the advent of wearables, the increase in volume, variety, and velocity of data generation, is getting streamlined at an individual level. With the use of AI, the data is being regularly analysed and relevant diagnostic to prescription recommendations are made, making the jobs of healthcare professionals easier in terms of patient data management and treatment.

The importance of data and digital transformation has accelerated manifold in the last few months. COVID-19 has brought to the fore the importance of digital technologies including data and artificial intelligence in addressing the healthcare crisis, restarting supply chains, and enabling telemedicine and teleconsultation. It has become time critical that rapid action be taken to further enhance data and AI capabilities at scale across all sectors, especially health, as the country moves tech potential to deliver real-time technology impact across businesses and societies. Driving utilisation of data and AI could play a crucial role in realising India’s 2025 vision of inclusive development and deliver over $500 bn in value for the economy.

In the healthcare segment, an effective data utilisation strategy can lead to timely epidemic outbreak prediction, enable remote diagnostics and treatment and assist in optimising health resource allocation.

Healthcare is never going back to the way it was before the pandemic. So, how will AI revolutionise and change the patient’s engagement with healthcare providers?

Long-standing efforts by doctors to personalise patient care are finally being realised thanks to advancements in technology and regulatory framework. Initially, this was just basic telehealth, but now, thanks to AI-driven insights from data gathered by both healthcare professionals and patients, we can identify at-risk individuals earlier than ever before and treat them with the best possible solution: a customised plan of action that considers their needs and way of life. As per a Deloitte study, 90 per cent of healthcare leaders also believe that AI initiatives are important for organisations to remain competitive in the market and help aid patients.

Patient engagement, frequently referred to as the ‘last mile’ of healthcare delivery and a crucial factor that can mean the difference between positive and negative health outcomes as well as customer satisfaction can benefit from AI in potentially profound ways. Without increasing the workloads of healthcare professionals, AI enables providers to engage patients more fully in the right ways, filling in for care gaps and encouraging patients to change their behaviour (and, in some cases, lessening those workloads). As we move forward in this Techade, we can expect the future of healthcare services to become more fluid in nature with a blend of digital and physical touchpoints aided by the use of new-age technology.

How NASSCOM is helping the government to promote the digital agenda in India’s healthcare infrastructure to make it more resilient and future-ready?

For the digital transformation of Indian healthcare, the NASSCOM Centre of Excellence CoE-IoT & AI (a MeitY project with the State Govt) has created the Healthcare Innovation Challenge (HIC). This unique innovation challenge aims to find solutions to the problems healthcare providers are having adopting digital technologies. The HIC’s main goals are to drive operational excellence by enabling administrative process automation and clinical workflow digitisation through the adoption of digital technology solutions; to enable healthcare providers to nominate use cases in line with their needs for digital solutions; and to drive the programme to enable the curation, evaluation, and deployment of technology-led innovative solutions that address the nominated use cases.

What does the objective of NASSCOM’s AI for Good initiative focus on in the healthcare fraternity?

The fundamental purpose of innovation and the application of AI is to improve people’s lives. India should create AI solutions that not only transform corporations but also empower individuals, fostering sustainable growth. The goal of AI for Good in the healthcare industry is to speed up research and innovation, boost production, and expand the supply base by bringing the entire ecosystem together. A three-pronged strategy to have a significant influence on India’s healthcare delivery is:

  • Discover the best innovations: Through the biggest HealthTech Innovation Challenges at regular intervals in collaboration with industry and government.
  • Build and demonstrate solutions: Design solutions collaboratively with the support of the Healthcare ecosystem including govt and regulatory bodies
  • Pilot and scale the solution adoption: Launch pilot projects in the public and private healthcare delivery space and scale up the adoption across the nation.


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