Artificial Intelligence in Health Care

The world has come to a phase where technology has become an inalienable part of our lives but still when most of us hear the word Artificial Intelligence, we tend to think of robots, doing mundane human tasks, or sometimes we pay attention to the hullabaloo created by some that machines will eventually take over the human race. While every technology has its merits and demerits, it depends on us, how we use it to our advantage.

Artificial Intelligence is emerging as the revolutionary technology, having the potential to change the way we have always lived. Its increasing usage in sundry sectors is well known, from driverless trains to driverless cars, from smart traffic lights to smart challan systems, from e-commerce to social media, but what is not common is its use in health care.

We are already aware of India’s abysmal record in health care. According to WHO, India has 28.52 skilled health professionals per 10,000 population whereas the total number of physicians per 1,000 population is just 0.758 (2016). One doesn’t have to be a data scientist to say that India doesn’t have enough health professionals, leading to a problem of quacks. Besides, out of pocket expenditure on health is also incredibly high mainly because of costly drugs. It sometimes pushes the most vulnerable sections into poverty. India’s record in non-communicable diseases does not seem satisfactory, e.g According to WHO, India has an approximate 8.7 percent diabetic population in the age group of 20 and 70. It is also not doing well in controlling communicable diseases. According to Global Tuberculosis Report, 2018, 27 percent of tuberculosis cases are found in India. Besides, 24 percent of rifampicin resistance (RR-TB) cases are also found in India. This is where Artificial Intelligence provides India an opportunity to transform its beleaguered health care system.

To solve the problem of lack of primary health care centres and lack of professionals, India can provide virtual doctors in far off places, capable of giving apt advices to people about medicines and further actions if needed to be taken. Sometimes health services become costly because of the number of health professionals needed to take care of patients. Thus, hospitals can install automatic monitoring systems and drug administration systems, capable of providing real-time data to health professionals on the health of patients. This can enhance the quality of health care.

One of the main problem doctors face is the suitability of drug to a particular person and this sometimes leads to many drug trials before they find out which drug is most suitable. Artificial Intelligence can overcome this problem by providing an analysis of how a drug would behave on the patient’s body, saving the patient from going through the excruciating pain of trials.

Artificial Intelligence can also play a crucial in drug formulation. Pharmaceutical companies take years to test drugs on animals before they start human trials whereas Artificial Intelligence analysis can reduce the time drastically by providing them the most suitable drug composition to target the virus or pathogen. This would reduce the manufacturing cost of drugs.Thus, making the drugs affordable. Some pharmaceutical companies are already using Artificial Intelligence to redesign existing medicines to control Ebola.

Artificial intelligence has many other usages like the quantity of drug to be administered, pharmacogenomics, which analyses how the genes of an individual affect his/her response to drugs, etc.  India needs to adopt artificial intelligence if it wants to do well in health care. India has an advantage of demographic dividend now, but as the population will age, there will be a need for a robust health care system. Hence, it’s better to catch the bus as soon as possible.

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