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AI Is Changing The Landscape Of Healthcare Sector

The healthcare sector has grown by leaps and bounds in the past few years and Artificial Intelligence (AI) has dramatically transformed the healthcare sector leading to many promising discoveries and outcomes. AI has enabled practitioners to deploy precise, timely and impactful interventions, synonymous with an engine that drives constant improvements across the care continuum. The pandemic has accelerated AI adoption which directly correlates with researchers conducting millions of experiments by simulating chemistry with computers, identifying more compounds that could pass the regulatory process and speeding up the drug discovery process. 

According to Nasscom's report, data analytics and AI in the healthcare sector can boost India's GDP by $25-$30 billion by 2025. AI and Machine Learning (ML) technologies are assisting businesses in making healthcare accessible to all sections of the country, including the most distant ones.  

AI in healthcare is an amalgamation of methods of gathering data, ingenious data processing techniques and innovative real-world applications of generated insights. It provides personalized experiences and automated insights to healthcare practitioners. The healthtech industry is experiencing significant breakthroughs in AI and generating renewed interest in how it can affect the future of healthcare. The increasing digitisation of health records via Electronic Health Records (EHRs) has generated significant opportunities for the implementation of AI. 

How is AI revolutionising the healthcare sector? 

Increased diagnostic efficiency 

Increased diagnostic efficiency is one of the key benefits of AI in healthcare. Integrating AI into public healthcare allows medical experts to diagnose diseases early, eventually reducing the disease strain. In addition, it aids in the automation of functions and analysing caseloads of data to provide better treatment at a faster pace and an economical rate. Public healthcare initiatives like the National Digital Health Mission aim to provide the foundation needed to support the country's integrated digital health infrastructure. 

AI can mine disparate and voluminous sources of information in real-time, helps pattern recognition and correlation  in the data collected and generate insights for clinicians who can act on those insights in conjunction with their symptoms. This early-stage diagnosis of diseases allows doctors to better oversee and detect potentially life-threatening episodes at earlier, more treatable stages. 

AI integrated remote or wearable health devices like smartwatches, blood pressure monitors, pulse oximeters, ECG monitors, etc., help individuals better monitor their health and give additional data to professionals, enabling early diagnosis and treatment. The global wearable health technology industry, valued at $21.3 billion in 2021, is expected to grow at a 28.1 per cent CAGR from 2022 to 2030. 

Early adopters of digital, data and artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare have already initiated and experienced advancements that have shifted from efficiency to enhanced efficacy in diagnosis and monitoring. 

Faster drug discovery and development 

AI analyses billions of compounds for drug testing, distilling research that would otherwise take years into only a few weeks. AI is essential in enabling the healthcare sector to realize its full potential by drastically cutting costs and reducing medicine development cycles. AI integration with R&D is increasing as it is the quickest method of instinctively analysing big data sets that the end-user can rationally conclude. The pandemic has ushered in a new era in clinical trials and patient care in hospitals and nursing homes. 

With higher cognitive insights being generated at a never-before pace, AI is reducing time-to-market through in-silico experiments, in turn reducing patient burden. 

Transformed Drug supply chain 

AI has enormous potential across the biopharma supply chain. The complex nature of the biopharma supply chain includes meeting varied objectives and time-sensitive needs of various stakeholders in the value chain including drug manufacturers, healthcare providers, government agencies, health insurance organizations and most importantly patients. The latest AI solutions use real-time data for analysing various stages of the supply chain such as inventory consumption, raw material procurement and other inventory-related issues to unlock the value of the supply chain and provide patients timely access to their therapies.  

Empowered patients and improved treatment follow-through  

A lot of companies are building patient-first AI systems. The pandemic triggered a newfound interest in telehealth and more opportunities for patients to manage their health from home. As patients have more channels for managing their health and gaining access to more of their healthcare data, they can benefit from AI-powered tools to make sense of it all.  An intelligent chatbot is a step forward to enhancing 24/7 customer service. It responds to patients' service requests in no time. It also provides unique automated conversational interactions with a high level of care. Leveraging AI-powered chatbots instead of human operators can be budget-friendly and time-saving for doctors and patients.  

Non-compliance by patients is a long-standing problem that detrimentally impacts treatments. AI and machine learning personalize treatment methods and other follow-up procedures for individual patients, ensuring they do not miss their appointments. 

Way forward 

While we witness the course AI in healthcare takes, it is important to remember that AI isn’t a product in itself; it is a tool which will be most effective when integrated into the clinical workflow, providing seamless assistance and guidance at precisely the right point of care. Indian healthcare is one of the largest and most significant sectors and is experiencing rapid expansion, fueled by government and corporate investments. With the proper infrastructure and buy-in from all concerned parties, these advancements can help prevent disease, detect important changes in patients’ medical conditions, diagnose patients more accurately and faster and tailor treatment plans to individual patients. Once AI is widely embraced, technologies like digital advancements, AI, and customized genomes can become the essential, favored plan of action rather than an expensive last option.

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