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Healthcare industry betting big on artificial intelligence, says Grow Fit CEO

The healthcare industry seems to be betting big on cognitive and Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems. Be it virtual assistants, intelligent automation, or cognitive computing, AI is definitely set to make a big impact on various aspects of healthcare — some of them being operations, patient-centric care, and precision medicine, says Jyotsna Pattabiraman, Founder and CEO, Grow Fit — a mobile health companion that uses AI to ensure wellness of its users — in an email interaction with Elets News Network (ENN).

What according to you is driving change in the Indian healthcare sector?

The growth and change in India’s healthcare industry is being driven by increasing population, rising incomes, changing lifestyle, easier access to high-quality healthcare facilities, and greater awareness of personal health and hygiene. The private sector has been another driving force behind the growth in the Indian healthcare sector. Indian healthcare providers are increasingly adopting new technologies to offer better healthcare services, reach inaccessible regions, and improve operational efficiency. Medical experts are opting for telemedicine as a way to reach rural India and create a network of health service providers. There is rapid growth in telemedicine and mobile-based healthcare as well.

How is technology impacting the delivery of services in the healthcare sector?

Technology has made it possible to achieve breakthroughs in information gathering, research, treatments, and communications. There are newer tools to work with and fresh ways to practice medicine. The medical sector in India is undergoing a major transformation with technology entering every aspect of healthcare delivery. Artificial intelligence seems to be spreading its reach to all aspects of healthcare. A new Worldwide Semiannual Cognitive/Artificial Intelligence Systems Spending Guide has estimated that the spends on AI technologies will increase from $8 billion in 2016 to $47 billion in 2020. With this kind of investment, the healthcare industry seems to be betting big on cognitive and AI systems. Be it virtual assistants, intelligent automation, or cognitive computing, AI is definitely set to make a big impact on various aspects of healthcare, some of them being operations, patient-centric care, and precision medicine. Although there is still a long way to go before AI replaces doctors completely, it will definitely make way for a more efficient and reliable assessment of patients.

Currently, AI is already under use in areas like mining medical data, diagnosing medical images, studying genomics-based data for personalised medicine, and improving the lives of the disabled.

Which key trends you see have the potential to change the public healthcare delivery system?

Considering the rate of change and the recent innovations, technology today has become the driving force behind improvements in healthcare. Some key trends in healthcare delivery are as follows:

Better and More Accessible Treatment This is one of the most tangible trends being observed today. With mobile-based apps and other digital modes of healthcare delivery, treatment has become more accessible than ever before.

Improved Care and Efficiency Information Technology has made patient care safer and more reliable in most applications. Nurses and doctors use hand-held computers to record real-time patient data. This can be instantly shared and update in their records thanks to technology. Now lab results, vital signs, and other patient data can be stored in a centralized area, thereby increasing efficiency of services provided.

Improved Healthcare and Disease Control Technology has made it easier for professionals and researchers to track, retrieve, and utilize valuable data which can further help in the fight to control diseases and provide better healthcare outcomes. E-billing methods have not only reduced paperwork but also helped practitioners to use this data to improve quality of care and all-round efficiency. Technology has been able to create a greater degree of transparency in the healthcare system.

Which innovations you seek to introduce in your organisation to improve healthcare delivery to patients?

Grow Fit intends to become a comprehensive daily health companion for its consumers. We recently raised Series A funding of $4.5 million from MEMG (Manipal Education and Medical Group), the PE arm of the Manipal Group. The SAR Group and The Grover Trust, Grow Fit’s seed investors, also participated in this round. With this, we will now focus on introducing new product lines and invest more in data science and Artificial Intelligence.The company’s future plans include fertility and issues related to pregnant and lactating women, joint health, stress management and more, all through the mobile. We also plan to integrate different sources of data from wearables and medical reports in order to make the app a one-stop, comprehensive companion for wellness.

Please share your views on the way forward for the Indian healthcare sector.

While India is doing well in terms of tertiary healthcare with rising medical tourism and establishment of large hospital chains. However, primary healthcare still remains a matter of concern. This is due to uneven distribution of population. Telemedicine can play a big role here as it can enable access to healthcare even in the remotest of areas. This has to be also done at the lowest cost possible because in such remote locations, the patient inflow will be more than that in big hospitals. This is where innovation can play a major role.

There is a need to stop visualising healthcare as it always has been and think of better, newer, and more innovative solutions. Healthcare is a basic necessity and integrating healthcare from start to the end with the help of technology is definitely the way forward for the Indian healthcare sector.

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