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Reinventing the healthcare sector with Artificial Intelligence

Reinventing the healthcare sector with Artificial Intelligence

From diagnosis and monitoring of chronic diseases to robotic surgeries, here’s how artificial intelligence is reimagining the healthcare sector in India and the world

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) have already started making inroads into various industries. Healthcare is emerging as one of the biggest beneficiaries of the AI revolution. The technology is capable of facilitating easy and secure access to patient medical data, understanding and analysing their conditions. This ultimately helps improve accuracy and efficiency in the diagnosis and modernisation of health care practices.

An example of an elementary implementation of AI is the use of chatbots and virtual assistants that can take care of basic yet tedious tasks like registering medical records, clinical workflows and monitoring lab results – all in an automated and secure process. Another example is applying machine-learning algorithms to patient-generated data to tailor new treatment plans that will eventually help better serve individuals.

AI in healthcare: Opportunities for the world and India

According to an Accenture report published in December 2017, key clinical healthcare AI apps can create $150 billion in annual savings for the United States healthcare economy by 2026. “Growth in the AI health market is expected to reach $6.6 billion by 2021—that’s a compound annual growth rate of 40%,” says the report.

Another report by the CIS India published earlier this year, AI could help add $957 billion to the Indian economy by 2035. “…investment in AI in the Indian healthcare industry appears to be growing. For example, of the $5.5 billion raised by global digital healthcare companies In the July-September 2017 quarter, at least 16 Indian healthcare IT companies received funding,” the report said.

“State governments are also providing support to AI startups – with reports quoting the Karnataka government mobilising 2,000 crore by 2020 towards supporting the same. The Karnataka government also has a Startup Policy and Karnataka Information Technology Venture Capital Fund that can support AI startups,” it added.

A Transparency Market Research (TMR) report published in May 2017 suggests that the global healthcare automation market is growing at a CAGR of 8.8% and will touch $58.98 billion by the end of 2025, up from $28.31 billion in 2016.

Top AI implementation in healthcare

Diagnosis

One of the biggest advantages of AI is going to be diagnosis. The technology can help industry stakeholders collate the massive health data that is available. It is estimated that more than 80% of the health data is unstructured, making it invisible to current systems, according to a PWC report.

Fortunately, technology firms like IBM and Google have already come up with solutions. Google’s DeepMind Health platform is working with clinics and health institutes across the world to implement Artificial Intelligence.

IBM’s popular AI, Watson, is using cognitive technology to process and analyse the vast data. “Watson can review and store far more medical information – every medical journal, symptom, and case study of treatment and response around the world – exponentially faster than any human. And it doesn’t just store data, it’s capable of finding meaning in it. Unlike humans, its decisions are all evidence-based and free of cognitive biases or overconfidence, enabling rapid analysis and vastly reducing – even eliminating – misdiagnosis,” according to a PWC report.

Monitoring of Chronic Conditions

Conditions like diabetes, cholesterol, fertility issues and cardiac heath are managed by regular monitoring and lifestyle changes. Chronic conditions are the single- largest burden on healthcare systems globally. Connected POC devices help generate a lot of data about the user’s body parameters. This can be combined with lifestyle information like food habits, exercise, etc, by an AI algorithm to help manage the conditions and adjust dosage of medication.

AI assisted Robotic Surgery

AI assisted robotics can guide the surgeon’s instrument during a procedure, cutting down the time required to do the surgery and reducing complications.

Image Analysis

A lot of pathological evaluations like microscopy for infections like malaria, differential counts, etc, depend on image analysis. Similarly, finding out abnormalities in an MRI scan is done through manual analysis by a radiologist. In both the cases, AI can help by screening the image analysis to help the pathologist or the radiologist give a faster and more accurate diagnosis.

Using the fitness wearables

From Fitbit, Xiaomi Mi Band to Apple Watch, there are a number of smart fitness-focused wearables available. These fitness devices are coupled with applications that provide a deeper insight on the individual’s health on a daily basis. What AI can do is here is create an encrypted data and share it with the doctors or relevant people to help the individuals with better and personalised suggestions to help achieve their fitness goals.

Drug discovery

The AI has the potential to help researchers create drugs as well. One of the popular names in this field is Atomwise, which uses deep learning process to reduce the time taken to discover new drugs. The six-year-old company raised more than $51 million in funding earlier this year. The company also said that it is offering over 50 molecular discovery programmes.

Even IBM is utilising its Watson AI to help accelerate drug research. “The platform allows researchers to generate new hypotheses with the help of dynamic visualizations, evidence-backed predictions and natural language processing trained in the life sciences domain. It is used by pharmaceutical companies, medical device companies and academic institutions to assist with new drug target identification and drug repurposing,” IBM explains on its website.

AI in Healthcare and India

India is also joining a growing list of the countries that are using AI in the healthcare. The adoption of AI in India is being propelled by the likes of Microsoft and a slew of health-tech startups. For instance, Manipal Hospitals, headquartered in Bengaluru, is using IBM Watson for Oncology, a cognitive-computing platform, to assist physicians discover personalised cancer care options, according to an Accenture report. For cardiac care, Columbia Asia Hospitals in Bengaluru is leveraging startup Cardiotrack’s AI solutions to predict and diagnose cardiac diseases.

“Last year the company embarked on Healthcare NExT, a Microsoft initiative which aims to accelerate healthcare innovation through AI and cloud computing. By working side-by-side with the healthcare industry’s most pioneering players, we are bringing Microsoft’s capabilities in research and product development to help healthcare providers, biotech companies and organizations across India use AI and the cloud to innovate,” said Anil Bhansali, Corporate Vice President, Cloud & Enterprise, Managing Director, Microsoft India (R&D) Private Limited.

Some of the initiatives of Microsoft India in healthcare include a Microsoft Intelligent Network for Eyecare (MINE) project where the company is working the government of Telangana for its Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram. The state government has adopted the MINE an AI platform to reduce avoidable blindness.

Microsoft also has a partnership with Apollo Hospitals to use AI for early detection of cardiac diseases. “The partnership between Microsoft and Apollo will enable to develop and deploy new machine learning models to predict patient risk for heart disease and assists doctors on treatment plans,” said Anil.

Healthi is a four-year-old Bengaluru-based digital health and wellness startup. The company uses predictive analytics, personalisation algorithms and machine learning to deliver personalised health suggestions.

“India faces a chronic disease risk burden. It is on its way to becoming the diabetic capital of the world with about 6% of the population diagnosed with the condition. A quarter of the population has high blood pressure or hypertension. Not just this, many people especially those in the age group of 25 to 40 are also being diagnosed with cardiovascular diseases (Journal of the American Medical Association (Jama) Internal Medicine). Thus, prevention and management of chronic diseases is an area where AI-led user engagement solutions can play a vital role,” said Rekuram Varadharaj, Co-founder and COO, healthi.

“India is extremely short in doctors at all levels, General Physicians to diagnose and help manage chronic conditions to specialist’s in Pathology and radiology. AI can help the doctors in faster diagnosis allowing them to focus on reviewing the data given by AI algorithms and work on complicated cases that AI cannot handle,” said Aayush Rai, Co-Founder, Inito, a Bengaluru-based start up.

The Doctor Will See You Now

The Doctor Will See You Now

Arun Jaitley and Jeff Bezos

Searching the vast Internet, I was unable to find a site or a news item where India’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and world’s richest man Jeff Bezos are mentioned together. And, yet as I got up this morning, both were on my mind because they have both decided to do something about making healthcare more affordable for people from low income families in two of the world’s largest democracies.

As part of the India’s 2018 Budget, Arun Jaitley announced a health insurance plan for 500 million low income citizens of India. Almost at the same time, Jeff Bezos announced low cost healthcare services to many of people in USA who are finding it increasingly difficult to get healthcare services.

Is this a coincidence? Or is this caused by super blue blood moon of 2018? We will never know.

And, look at the contrasting public health spending in these two countries – Present public healthcare spending in the USA is USD 4800 per citizen, while in India the figure is USD 26 per citizen. From public healthcare spending point of view, these two countries are almost two ends of the spectrum. It turns out that no healthcare system in any country is perfect, barring Singapore which has less population than a suburb of Bangalore. Common problems faced by healthcare planners are:

– Huge imbalance in demand (number of patients) and supply (physicians, specialists, care facility and infrastructure)

– High concentration of healthcare infrastructure in urban centers thus leaving a significant population base with very few care facilities

– Sharp increase in chronic disease patients

– High cost to the society due to avoidable invasive procedures

– Distance to diagnostics centers and tertiary care facilities

– Many avoidable deaths and huge loss of productivity due to delayed diagnosis

The root cause of these problems is the fact that significant investments have gone into technologies and infrastructure for tertiary care and decline of primary care or care close to home. Both Jaitley and Bezos have proposed plans that almost identical in their approach to address the healthcare problems in India and the USA:

– Better healthcare services at home or closer to home. In India, the emphasis is to improve primary care significantly. In the US, the approach is greater use of tele-medicine

– Success of both these plans depend on better use of technologies to deliver better care outcomes and reduce cost to the beneficiaries

What Jaitley and Bezos need is greater use of IoT and AI to make this happen. Companies like Cardiotrack and American Well are likely beneficiaries of these initiatives. These companies have demonstrated how technology can be deployed to optimally use available resources and drive down costs and provide better health outcomes.

Congratulations – @arunjaitley and @JeffBezos for your bold move to provide better healthcare to people who can least afford it. This is nation building at its best.

How Cardiotrack is Changing The Cardiac Care Landscape

How Cardiotrack is Changing The Cardiac Care Landscape

It has been scientifically proven that cardiovascular problems are genetically coded in South Asians so it is particularly critical to the Indian sub-continent where about 2.3 million people die of cardiovascular diseases every year.

Clearly the need of the hour is preventive care, something that warns against impending heart attacks. Something as simple as quick heart check-up while visiting the family doctor or neighbourhood clinic can save millions of lives. An easy, non-invasive test that gives both doctor and patient (if she asks for it) a snapshot of her cardiac condition. The answer is, Cardiotrack – a smartphone size device that is AI powered and gives clinical grade ECG readings.

Cardiotrack’s journey has been reasonably well documented, however what needs careful attention now is its metamorphosis from medical device company to cardiac care evangelist. By reading and assimilating information which is then routed through the AI platform, the humble little device has created an evocative picture of heart health across age groups and geographies. The result is a series of stories of how individuals who were almost at the cusp of a heart attack were saved because cardiac diagnosis was possible close to home.

While this is indeed heartening for the co-founders of the company what makes it even more worthwhile is the fact that many of the lives saved are of poor farmers whose deaths would’ve orphaned their families.

In over 60-70 scans taken per day at least one critical condition like STEMI or myocardial infarction is found translating to almost 20 critical cases per month and this is just for a small area within India. What is scarier than these numbers is the fact that most of these patients are unaware of their poor heart health condition.

Addressing a complex and chronic problem like cardiovascular diseases is a global challenge that needs to be solved and Cardiotrack is working to prove that the combination of Artificial Intelligence and IoT will help in breaching the numbers. An additional advantage is that this will lay the foundation for preventive cardiac care in the overall healthcare scenario.

Cardiotrack’s IoT (internet of things) device captures a patient’s heart signals accurately and the AI platform gives an accurate diagnosis, which allows both the general physician and the patient a glimpse into her heart condition even if there is no cardiologist available. The diagnosis is sufficient to trigger an intervention if necessary. The enormity of this is truly amazing and in the case of the patient, life-saving.

A simple, pragmatic and scaleable solution…that’s what cardiac care needs to save lives consistently and help it to leapfrog the urban-rural divide.

The data that the device has gathered creates a cardiac health map of the regions where it is used extensively, cutting across age groups and ethnicities. The result is that government healthcare bodies, hospitals, physicians, drug manufacturers and medical researchers can use it to make cardiac care more predictive and preventive.

As an organization that is working to ensure that heart health is not within the reach of only a privileged few, Cardiotrack believes in the fact that data should not be a proprietary asset. Instead, it should be used judiciously for the greater good.

The future of cardiac care is on track for better times. With Cardiotrack working to ensure that more people from disadvantaged regions and communities come within the purview of preventive cardiac care, a healthier nation and society is within grasp.

Cardiotrack to Partner with Paras Hospitals, Gurgaon

Cardiotrack to Partner with Paras Hospitals, Gurgaon

Bangalore-based start-up, Cardiotrack, which provides best-in-class predictive diagnosis for cardiovascular diseases announced today that it has expanded its presence in North India with its partnership with Gurgaon based multi-speciality hospital, Paras Hospitals, Gurgaon. This expansion will consolidate Cardiotrack’s position

“We are delighted to partner with Cardiotrack to reach out to a wide spectrum of population in Gurgaon and surrounding areas. By providing them with excellent preventive cardiac care we are working hard to ensure that the number of cardiovascular deaths is brought down.”