‘AI will lead to faster delivery of health services, cut costs’


India too is exploring various ways to harness AI to tackle healthcare challenges, especially the coronavirus crisis. Nivruti Rai, country head, Intel India and vice president data platforms group, Intel Corporation, spoke to Mint about AI research, its solutions to deal with the pandemics like covid-19, the potential of healthcare data and Intel’s role in covid-19 pandemic.

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Edited excerpts:

How can AI play a role in pandemics such as covid-19?

With the abundance of data gathered from numerous hospitals, mobile devices, and applications, AI models can be trained to evaluate the risk of patients, helping care providers to assemble limited medical assistance and organize essential resources like masks and ventilators. For instance, AI in medical imaging has not only aided providers in detecting abnormalities effortlessly but has also led to faster diagnoses. AI has empowered healthcare with surgical accuracy, customized patient treatment, intelligent healthcare analytics and new genomics research.

How do you think AI can help save costs of healthcare delivery?

AI is not only instrumental in providing accurate patient diagnosis and care with the enormous availability of data but will also prove to be economical to patients in the long run. The deployment of AI in the healthcare sector will lead to increased efficiency, faster delivery and accurate diagnosis thereby reducing cost of healthcare considerably. For instance, AI is already being used to detect diseases, such as cancer, more accurately and in their early stages.

According to the data shared by The American Cancer Society, a high percentage of mammogram analysis show incorrect results by diagnosing one in every two healthy women as having cancer. AI can be used to analyze and review the mammograms 30 times faster with 99% precision, eliminating the need for unnecessary biopsies and avoiding a great deal of inconvenience and mental stress caused to the patient in case of wrong diagnosis.

Why and how can data in healthcare play a role in taking health services to next level?

According to International Data Corporation (IDC), healthcare data will multiply at a compound annual growth rate of 36% by 2025. This is faster than other industries such as construction, financial services, and media/entertainment and over 9 percentage points above the global average of the global data stored.

India has a huge volume and variety of data along with corner cases. With over 80% of data in medical records, healthcare decision makers highlight data volume as the top aspect on their biggest data analytics challenges. AI’s ability to process large amounts of unstructured data makes it the most preferred technology to handle growing volume of data. AI is also best suited to generate specific insights from the vast and ever-growing amount of data available in both clinical and research records.

Healthcare has become digitized, generating a massive amount of data from electronic medical record systems, radiology images, lab results, wearable devices, etc. By leveraging this data, health providers can power new solutions in predictive analytics for medical diagnosis, predictive modeling for health risks, and even prescriptive analytics for precision medicine.

How do you think AI will impact jobs in India?

Artificial Intelligence increasingly is becoming an imperative for businesses across industries. AI will make workspaces more specialized in future. Automation is actively being applied where repetitive and quantitative work is involved. However, I believe, in roles that require creativity, strategy, or compassion, AI can assist, but never replace people.

Intel India along with Indian School of Business conducted an ‘AI and the Future of Work’ survey with the participation of 301 firms that have adopted AI or machine learning (ML) in their workflows. Over 90% of respondents to the survey indicated that AI is essential or highly relevant to their business. Over 80% said that their workforce will undergo significant re-skilling due to AI implementations over the next two years.

Skilling is a crucial aspect for AI adoption. Today, India is home to about 8% of the global AI talent. Through these skilling programs, we can become a global powerhouse of AI talent. With talent, with data, with technology and the right policy framework, I believe India can become synonymous with AI innovation.

What will be Intel’s role to advance the state of AI research in the area of healthcare and creating AI led drug development of the future?

Towards advancing applied AI research in the areas of healthcare and smart mobility, Intel India recently launched the INAI center in Hyderabad, in collaboration with the Government of Telangana, International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) – Hyderabad, and Public Health Foundation of India. INAI is an initiative to apply AI to population-scale problems in the Indian context, with a focus on identifying and solving challenges through strong ecosystem collaboration.

In the area of public health, the center will work to enable solutions to extend health coverage to every individual and advance research for better prediction of non-communicable diseases. It is currently focused on collecting data and our goal is to build a standard platform for AI with open access, creating annotated datasets and an open and secure data exchange platform. We will also build foundational AI algorithms and tools.

INAI aims to accelerate India’s leadership in AI by driving innovation and entrepreneurship, creating national assets such as curated datasets, computing infrastructure, tools and frameworks, all of which will attract global talent for high-impact research.

Intel technology is enabling ecosystem initiatives towards tracking, diagnosis, and drug and vaccine discovery for covid-19. Intel India is working with Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and IIIT, Hyderabad, through the deployment of Intel client and server solutions to help achieve faster and less expensive covid-19 testing and coronavirus genome sequencing to understand epidemiology and AI-based risk stratification for patients with comorbidities.

In another tech initiative, Intel was part of the NASSCOM covid-19 taskforce for developing a population-scale, technology-driven pandemic response platform for India. The taskforce architected an open API-based locally hosted, privacy preserving, multi-cloud infrastructure for the platform that enables a multitude of citizen-centric apps. It is designed to augment the central and state governments’ efforts with a robust set of population scale covid-19 indicators that help predict outbreaks, improve medical care administration and enable stimulation of economic activities. It was delivered to the state governments of Telangana and Karnataka.

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