Despite 50,000 medical graduates becoming certified as doctors every year in India, we are quite far from reaching the intended target to close the patient to doctor ratio. As per World Health Organization’s (WHO) estimation, India needs more than 2 million doctors by 2030 which means our healthcare system needs a harder push than we are already providing. The recent budget allocation is only the tip of the iceberg compared to what needs to be done in the decade ahead. So, how do we leverage technology to reduce burden on Indian healthcare and bridge the gap with technological alternatives wherever possible?
Building a healthier nation needs scaling up of technological alternatives. But when systems lay disparate, their functionality becomes limited and this is where AI/ML and Internet of Things (IOT) play an important role. While IOT allows connectivity among devices and a system, AI/ML offers increased computability. Increased connectivity leads to constant influx of data for monitoring and analyzing. AI/ML algorithms sort this data to improve the performance of technological alternatives.
Challenges for implementing AI:
- On the ground level patients do not believe in the ability of IOT devices and they are not properly informed about which devices are close to the established standard health measurements.
- The healthcare facilities are not properly equipped to collect and share data from IOT devices as most of the staff is not well trained on how to handle them.
- While the central government has its say in the health policy, state-wise policy makers determine the ground level rules abiding by which the healthcare facilities must function. This creates a non-uniformity and a lot of uncertainty.
- Affordability and cost factors will continue to remain a major hindrance and this will be the most complex issue to address.
Public-private partnerships (PPP) can really bolster the infrastructure in addressing the challenges that have been discussed. With the right approach and focus from either end (government and corporate), the goal of incorporating AI in Indian healthcare might not be too far. To that end domestic start-ups have been striving hard to bring affordable care packages which can potentially expedite the journey towards purported goal.