With the artificial intelligence (AI) health market expected to increase exponentially — from $600 million in 2014 to a whopping $6.6 billion by 2021 — this next-generation super hybrid will act as the “invisible hand” redefining and revolutionising the global healthcare landscape. Not only are these “new-age innovations” catalysing existing healthcare systems and transforming them into “smart wellness” delivery mechanisms, they are also creating a brand new market paradigm for technological titans such as Microsoft, Apple, IBM and start-ups alike.
With the Indian healthcare market estimated to grow to $372 billion by 2022, coupled with growing healthcare needs of a 1.3 billion strong population, successfully leveraging AI, is vital to catapulting the “healthcare of today” into the “health-tech of tomorrow”.
First, the potential of AI through machine learning and big data is rewiring the existing healthcare landscape by economising healthcare costs. Integrating big data with wellness could potentially save the healthcare industry up to $100 billion per year, and as a result, allow companies in the sector to manage their bottom line to greater effect.
Second, there will be an estimated shortage, globally, of 12.9 million healthcare professionals by 2035. Merging cognitive computing and healthcare is the key to bridging this man-power gap. Such an enterprise can provide superior health solutions to a growing world population. Artificial intelligence can address the healthcare demands of the global population and magnify healthcare outreach at an affordable cost. An example to illustrate the point is Your.MD. This service has a personal physician coupled with an AI-powered mobile application that uses algorithms to create a personalised health map for the user, including linking a patients symptoms to possible causes as well as possible remedies and steps to treatment.
Third, AI, with a greater focus on clinical diagnoses and the identification of diseases can help augment the traditional healthcare sector. By running algorithms and analysing big data patterns, AI can detect trends to enhance disease diagnosis and create treatment plans in order to efficiently streamline the healthcare needs of a patient. A case in point is IBM WatsonPaths, which consists of cognitive computing technologies that allow for medical professionals to make a medical diagnosis with greater accuracy using electronic medical records.
Finally, the potential of AI and Internet of Things is evolving towards a more patient-centric approach by personalising healthcare based on the needs of the consumer. Apple Inc. has, through its wearable tech-gadgets and the Internet of Things (IoT), already managed to successfully capture health data with the aim to improve wellness and effectively manage the lifestyles of its users. This data can be harnessed to create an electronic health record of patients and can subsequently be used to act as a baseline repository of information for preventive treatment.
The quintessence of AI lies in its unparalleled potential to transform the face of the global traditional healthcare system. This new age health-tech market is being catalysed by predictive analytics and cognitive-based learning, thereby catapulting the growth of this industry in a similar manner to financial services and Fintech.
In India, where we rank a lowly 154th in the Healthcare Access and Quality Index, we must make collaborative efforts to unlock the potential of AI to create an enabling health technology ecosystem to match demand, optimise costs, and demonstrate value.
Further, by leveraging the principles of DICE (Design, Innovation and Creativity-led Entrepreneurship), artificial intelligence is on the fast track to revolutionise the entire global healthcare scenario by providing futuristic “high quality-low cost”, patient-centric smart wellness solutions.