As’Sophia’, the humanoid, attains citizenship of a country and retains manyspecial rights which are not even offered to the women citizens of respectivecountry, the debate of artificial verses human intelligence gets heated again 2.The debating communities on either side of the table, howsoever differentprincipally, appreciate the technology and emotionally expressive face of thehumanoid. This picture typically brings to our minds, a visualization of humansbeing assisted by artificial intelligence in every sphere of life, to say theleast, that’s the basic idea behind their creation. Artificialintelligence (AI) in human healthcare has been a game changer. The last 15years were dedicated to smart devices that ensure speed, precision, monitoringand control over health and diseases. This era has seen a shift in focus fromhuman resource (humanized team efforts) to data resource, from data resource(collection of detailed medical facts and figures) to machine learning (largedata pool which starts co-relating these facts and figures) and from machinelearning to artificially obtained intelligence (ability to interpret a newsample on the basis of past data analysis) (Fig.1).
Electronic-health(e-health) solutions are the software applications related to healthcare, thatprovide tools, processes, and communication means to support electronichealthcare practice (Hairong Yan et al., 2010; Hernandez et al., 2001; Ball andLillis, 2001; Dixon, 2007; Hsu et al., 2005). Mobile-health (m-health) comesunder the umbrella of e-health that refers to e-health functionality on mobilephones which further diverges into technologies of networking, medical sensors,computation and communication (Istepanian et al., 2004).
There is another termcalled tele-health which refers to medical counseling on phone by an expertdoctor to medical staff in remote areas lacking high end medical expertise.Artificialintelligence has recently stepped into healthcare but has made majortransformations to the whole system of diagnosis, analysis and even drugdevelopment. AI around theworldThe geographical distribution of start-ups in artificialintelligence around the world is itself an interesting topic to work on as thedynamics are changing fast.
There are several applications of AI likehealthcare, retail, financial services, manufacturing etc., and if all included, the US alone has around 3000 start-ups followed by China,Britain, India and Canada. Countries like Israel, Germany, France, Spain andSwitzerland also make a mark .Within the US, states holding maximum start-up sector were California (51%),New York (11%), Massachusetts (9%)and states like Utah, Colorado, New jersey, Texas,Illinois, Virginia, Washington, Michigan, Ohio and Florida are witnessing a generationof well-funded start-up growth. Globally, the AI revenue is estimated to reach $37 billion by 2025.A sole share of $19.
2 billon will be claimed by healthcare applications of AIwith image analysis leading the chase, followed by virtual assistance, patientdata processing, computational drug discovery and converting paperwork intodigital data.Some products asan example of collaborative researchLet us witness a few stories where biotechnology has weddedmultidisciplinary research and led to wonderful products. 3D Printed bonesRhysCornock, a 23-year-old graduate from University of Wollongong, Australia,is transforming the world of medical sciences by his 3D printed bones. He has used advanced bio-engineeringtechniques to manufacture complex scaffolds that can exactly fit into fracturedbone areas with the help of specific scans and imaging of the fractured area.These perfectly tailored bones, printed through 3D printers are thentransplanted into patients’ body.Another product of the sameuniversity is a bio pen that is used to deliver live cells and growth factorsdirectly to the site of injury. This reduces the surgery as well as recoverytime as regeneration of functional bone and cartilage is stimulated by thegrowth factors.
These types of implants are best for cases with diseased bonestructures. It is made from biodegradable, non-toxic material that provides astructure through its polymer component and recovery through its growth factorsand drug component.Sickle cell chipA diagnostic kit developed by a team from IIT Bombay has madeit possible to detect sickle cell anemia, a common blood disorder found intribal areas of central and southern India. This kit is affordable, portableand can be used even by untrained medical staff. Debjani Paul, Ninad Mehendaleand Ammar Jagirdar from the Indian Institute of Technology, Powai havedeveloped this kit as an example of lab on chip diagnostics that can facilitatedistant, rural, underprivileged sections of human population. The idea wasfunded by BIRAC and the Bill & Melinda gates foundation. Invention of thiskit has proved to be a savior for all the patients especially children who diedbefore even being diagnosed with the disease. A drop of patient blood added tothis- reagents loaded plastic micro fluidic chip- can be imaged by a mobilephone camera.
Other than these two stories, thereare other products like wearable solar cell based textiles and pairs ofaffordable socks that do not need shoes as they are much tougher than steel. Itgives a feeling of barefoot walking and gives a fine grip to the feet.With the societal and lifestyle changes, health monitoringand maintenance itself has become a challenge. The solution also comes from thesame age of e-health where artificial intelligence assists human intelligenceto confront these challenges of day-to-day life not only for the patients butalso for their caretakers. Mobile phones, electronic gadgets and internetservices have involved non-medical practitioners along with patients themselves,to be the first monitors of their ailments, and have personalized healthmonitoring and treatment. An ever-increasing number of healthcare startups areincorporating machine learning and algorithm-driven platforms to achieve theirmilestones though artificially intelligent solutions that can ease andaccelerate the process of diagnosis as well as interpretations for the doctors.In the Indian scenario, the culture of healthcare startupsbased on AI is mostly in tier 1 cities and the trend is likely to extend totier 2 cities with the increasing number of IT professionals interested inmultidimensional uses of their capabilities. Also the effective utilization offunds and stimulating groups of venture capitalists are also increasing innumbers some of who belong to neither healthcare nor software development, butare still interested in investing into such ventures.
Angel investors andmentor groups associated with organizations like BIRAC which are working withthe prime objective of making healthcare startups a success, add to thisecosystem. To top all this, the ‘make in India’ campaign initiated bygovernment of India supports this through its policies through ‘Atal incubationmission’ (AIM), where constant funds are disbursed to universities and similarinstitutions for development of incubation centers, where new start-ups can beincubated without having to worry aboutspace, instrumentation and basic facilities. The contemporary trends ofutilization of AI in healthcare services remain in day to day monitoring ofvital data points, diagnostics and predictive analytics followed by deeplearning (Table 5), and companies like Tricog (Bangalore), Lybrate (Faridabad)are strongly surfacing.In the global context, AI already holds a big share of marketin the healthcare sector. There are devices that can automatically detectdiseases like anemia, malaria, leukemia and other cancers thus reducing waitingtime of the patients to get pathology reports before treatment. There are alsoa category of devices, which are used to continuously monitor normal healthparameters like blood pressure, heart rate and sugar level (Table2). NonInvasive techniques like ‘liquid biopsy’ (spit test), cut off all the pain associated with thediagnosis of cancer and act as firstline of treatment as even a day saved in diagnosis is a chance won to survivethe disease. The general methods ofpeeping inside the living systems like cardiac imaging, MRI, ECG, ultrasonography,microscopy, tissue analysis, radiology etc.
are known, and are evolving at a pacefaster, which is another level of research altogether. This ever growing andunrolling world of technologies in diagnostics and analysis, to unfold theinner secrets of human body, when amalgamated to data collection, deep learningand AI, become a powerful combat against disease and illness. The process of drug discovery is a longtedious and exorbitant process. A single over the counter (OTC)drug may also prove extortionate for the pharmaceutical business sometimes.Here, AI coalesced with bioinformatics (Table 3) proves to be the game changerby working out years’ job in hours, plus the saved resources are an advantage.
Another aspect of AI powered devices is thatthey reduce complete dependence on medically trained staff. Some devices are souser friendly and portable that the sophistication and complexity of a typicalhospital-type environment is completely kept at bay. Where on one hand deviceslike portable dialysis machine (Table1) give the patient the ease of mobility,the devices like absorbable heart stent eradicate the botheration ofaftereffects. Smart pill like medication today makes it completely possible totrack the exact time of ingestion of drug and devices like speech restorer and autonomous wheelchair not only actas augmented body parts, but also impacts the patient’s personal and sociallife by heightening their self- confidence.The most apparent application of AI is patient data recordingand mining (Table 4).
Using a robot to explain lab results to patients ortaking a chatbot as a life coach is no more an exaggeration now. The number ofefficient workers in healthcare is not a big number already, and this goes downfurther as some members are busy only to maintain patient data records. Here AIhas played a vital role in helping the medical world with data collection,maintenance and deriving a meaningful interpretation through deep learning.This data mining is helpful not only for doctors and medical staff, but thesedays insurance companies also use this information to digitally verify patient’sinsurance information to ensure it is valid and accurate and digitizationreduces the manual load. With the growing population, it is not possible toproportionally increase the number of health practitioners per person, but itis possible to make the process easier and faster through AI.The interpretation based on data size issometimes more than even the number of cases handled by the healthprofessionals but anyways AI is used as a helping hand and not as analternative for doctors. Artificial intelligence has also acceleratedtechnology-assisted programs in areas like mental health- emotionalintelligence indicators and post-traumatic stress disorder treatment programare already in market.
Rehabilitationand dentistry.(E-health in low- and middle-income countries: findings from the Center for Health Market InnovationsTrevor Lewis, a Christina Synowiec,b Gina Lagomarsinoa& Julian Schweitzer; Bull World Health Organ 2012;90:332–340 doi:10.2471/BLT.11.
099820). Healthcare research is as vast as thecuriosity of human mind and the challenges are ever changing with changingtimes. This is off course just a beginning of wireless medical technologies, alot of research still needs to be done on at actual application of such devicesincluding the psychological responses of the subject.
Moreover, this paradigmshift in medical culture also needs to be supported and endorsed by doctors ascommon people still consider a doctor’s advice over gadgets, and if so, theextended expenditures should be justified. As nature finds out ways to balancehuman population through constantly evolving diseases