If we talk about the healthcare industry, it falls at the extreme complex category in a VUCA world. The long queue at the OPD of a hospital and the delay in the discharge & reimbursement process of the patient shows how ambiguous the entire healthcare operation is. After a successful diagnosis and treatment of a specific disease, the prognosis is still uncertain. The human body works in a very strange and unpredictable manner even after all vital signs are normal. The volatility of the outcome has what made this industry unique.
Healthcare 3.0: Intersection of technology and data
With the boom of Big Data and the advent of Industry 4.0, data around us can be leveraged to create insights for better innovation. The application of data analytics and AI has considerably reduced the complexities and uncertainties associated with this industry. Earlier, healthcare used to mean going to physicians for consultations. Prescribing medicines were the only form of services available. The laboratory tests were bare minimum. That was the first stage of the healthcare industry. Then came the stage of multi-speciality clinics and hospitals. Healthcare 2.0 has seen huge inventions in the name of CT scans, MRIs, and surgical interventions enabled better treatment options with a higher survival rate. This was the time when the world has seen a rise in chronic diseases like diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, obesity, etc., due to lifestyle changes. But with a huge amount of data availability and technologies to mine them, we have already entered the third stage of healthcare – Healthcare 3.0.
Data analytics and artificial intelligence is not a new concept. But with the availability of a huge amount of data daily, the algorithms have started giving better results with higher accuracy and in less time. The benefits of this technology on the healthcare sector is immense. Right from keeping patient records digitally to customization of treatment, every operation has been made seamless, accurate and within no time. Hospitals, clinics, doctors, and healthcare workers are getting patient data in different forms like health records, medical history, laboratory reports, text messages, phone conversations etc. Structuring it according to the needs and finding insights from it has been developed by smart data scientists. And the result – a patient visiting a hospital does not have to stand in a queue for long hours. A small life-threatening lesion in the small intestine which is barely visible in the CT scan or MRI can be clearly detected through machine learning. Drug discovery, which would years to taste success can be done now in a matter of few months and save countless lives.
Early detection & prediction to aid potential healthcare crisis
According to The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), globally 1 in every 5 people develop cancer during their lifetime, and 1 in 8 men, 1 in 11 women die from it. One of the prime reasons is the failure of early detection, which, in case of cancers like intestinal cancer, uterus cancer, and throat cancer etc. is highly prevalent. However, advancements in data analytics and AI have enabled early detection and prediction of such diseases. Even chemotherapy is now customized as per an individual’s health conditions. The current pandemic has taught us the significance of preventive treatment. People have started investing in health through health insurance policies. The underwriting process, which was known to be time-consuming and costly, is now done within seconds with the help of artificial intelligence. Quantifying the health condition and probable health risks of an individual is one of the biggest innovations that AI/ML has done through data analytics. The need of the hour is going a step further in making it a gold standard & universally accepted health score.
This phase of Healthcare 3.0 will bring new inventions into the picture which will not only increase the lifespan of individuals but will also predict diseases through videos and facial analysis. The thought of getting health information with just a facial analysis is something humankind has only seen in sci-fi movies. But it is happening within our own reach, in our own society. What we need to do is to become aware of such inventions, of such new additions in the healthcare industry. Being aware will help us make informed decisions in a particular situation especially during any healthcare crisis. This revolution has just started. It will bring more colours in near future with varied hues and tints. The only concern being whether machines can overcome healthcare professionals? Well, if it means saving the world, then humans and machines must work in synergy with each other for the greater good.
Dr. Sambita Ghadai is an analyst at Fedo
(DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and ETHealthworld.com does not necessarily subscribe to it. ETHealthworld.com shall not be responsible for any damage caused to any person/organisation directly or indirectly).