January 2018

What’s in the Offing in Healthcare Technology? Predictions for Technology

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Inder Davalur
KIMS Hospital, Group CIO

AI/ML/Robotics

It is my hope and desire to see physicians and surgeons working alongside AI and any form of robotics to enhance treatment outcomes and patient experience while bringing costs down. We are bound to witness robots that will be able to work alongside humans by 2030. The risk of injury or mistakes (human) while working with robots will diminish with a combination of enhanced ML (Machine Learning) / AI (Artificial Intelligence) and new soft materials that won’t pose injury risk. Cars were seen as a “menace” to horse-drawn carriages and pedestrians when the automobile made its first appearance. We too shall evolve. Tools such as AI/ML/ Robots must be seen as enhancers to patient-physician dynamic instead of replacement.

Software Defined World

Increasingly, software companies and hardware architects and manufacturers are seeing the lines getting blurred. Welcome to multi-tasking in the technology world. Operating Systems being sold as separate from hardware (read laptops/desktops/PDAs) will disappear. OS-on-chip with ‘flash updates’ will become the norm. HDD/SSD or a storage device in any form will increasingly become the destiny for data storage or in the case of SSD, even a cache device for number crunching functions. The OS will reside on robust chips and applications will find their home on the Cloud on a SaaS model. SD-WAN is already a reality. ‘Nuff said on that.

Connected Patient

I will stake out my territory and take credit here for a phrase I coined and will fervently hope it becomes household by 2025. Connected Continuum of Care or 3Cs. I strongly believe that healthcare will finally outstrip Finance/Banking and Manufacturing sectors in the adoption and development of technology. Here’s why. The slow plodding foray into technology has actually given the healthcare sector the opportunity to leapfrog other said industries. Once the consumer of healthcare realizes that the high quality of care that is possible through combining actual tangible care with technology, there will be no going back. Hospitals that realise this and enable this would be the trendsetters. They will get to write the rules.

AI (Again) in Customer Experience (CX)

Remember back in the 1990s when hordes of well-intentioned literary types were typing away reviews and recommendations on the then online bookseller Amazon? Well, I do and guess what? In one fell swoop, a very primitive (compared to current) form of AI replaced all those bookworms with an algorithm that did a much better job. That was then. Now, the acceleration of AI and ML is palpable. Aided by gargantuan storage devices coupled with everincreasingly powerful processors, AI and ML are now self-propagating living breathing things. Nowhere near human intelligence, these algorithms are working their tiny asses off to catch up. And they will. Now imagine a proliferation (already happening) of bots that are watching and listening to most of what we do and say, learning from our expressions and trying to learn our mood and affect; learning the nuances of our language – making a distinction between expressions “Get out” and “Get outta here” for instance. These bots will evolve from faceless interfaces with text and voice of today to full-faced with wellarticulated expressions conveying empathy, excitement, annoyance etc.

ONCE THE CONSUMER OF HEALTHCARE REALIZES THAT THE HIGH QUALITY OF CARE THAT IS POSSIBLE THROUGH COMBINING ACTUAL TANGIBLE CARE WITH TECHNOLOGY, THERE WILL BE NO GOING BACK. HOSPITALS THAT REALISE THIS AND ENABLE THIS WOULD BE THE TRENDSETTERS. THEY WILL GET TO WRITE THE RULES

Put that in a patient-doctor virtual consultation. And,voila! you have a perfect recipe for a basic virtual medical assistant. Extend that to a Nursing Home or an Elderly Care Home for providing a conversational companion for those who do not get regular visitors. Or, if the individual enjoys talking about plants and flowers, the assistant could delve into information on the kind of plants or flowers this person loves and talk about them. Perhaps show images and videos of meadows and gardens. Well, it could happen.

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