‘Talkative Indians’’ healthcare is in shambles. India has 130 crores people, with doctor patient ratio is 1:1700 whereas WHO recommendation is 1:1000. In USA and Japan the ratio is 1:400. Equally bad is the condition of paramedical staff. Villages having no adequate medical infrastructure, send patients to cities clogging the already overcrowded overloaded Govt. hospitals.
If you have the bad luck to visit a Govt. hospital, you will see how hundreds of patients with a face laden with depression are hopelessly waiting for the doctor, all around dirt and filth, stench and squalor, lines of chairs for patients in unusable condition, no light, no fan—even if it is there they do not work. There is no healing touch, often patients have doubts, fear of the unknown, nobody around to understand the patients’ requirement. Hospital authority considers them as unwanted burden. It looks those places are door to hell for patients. Condition is so bad, that one wonders whether death itself is anyway worse than rigours of this search for cure. There are private hospitals/ nursing homes, but except a bare few those are no more than money spinning machines. Whole life’s earning is emptied in 2/3 days. Total picture is one of helplessness.
There are many reasons for this malaise. The main one is serious shortage of doctors and paramedical staff. The field of artificial intelligence applied to healthcare can solve most of our problems.
We have experienced educated technical personnel working in IT, so far for three decades they served the country well by earning foreign exchange, by working for companies in America and Europe. Now they are all coming back. Also, thousands of IT/Computer engineers are being produced in the country regularly, they will not have decent employment like their predecessors in the IT industry anymore. Therefore, they have to break a new field, and this could be discovering new technologies for healthcare for the Indian masses. Otherwise they have to sit unemployed. Crisis shows the way, many discoveries were done during second world war just to meet the immediate crisis then, otherwise, they would cease to exist. Necessity is the mother of invention. We need another push for moving ahead.
It is very much possible, it need not be a stuff from science fiction. Ninety percent of the diseases are of repetitive nature-those have same treatment, same symptom, same medicine, even a medicine dispenser from the counter of medical shop can do what a doctor does now. At this one would oppose me saying that ‘will the dispenser of medicine will have the same knowledge as of a doctor?’. In response I can guarantee that many of the doctors even they may have a certificate, do not possess knowledge any more than medicine dispenser of a medical shop. This is a statement of a man 65 years of age consumed several kilos of medicine over a period of 15 years . A software developed for the purpose may not wholly replace a doctor, but a doctor-AI combine will surely provide quality healthcare at a reduced cost.
By incorporating the past details of patients, software can be developed, which on due feeding of data may diagnose and prescribe medicine automatically. This will release a large no of now captive medical personnel for diverting to uncared for patients, further this will help prepare and maintain a medical history of patients for future which will make later diagnoses easier. Duly programmed Robots with the help of IT will do more and more surgery with precision without human error. Cancer patients are already being successfully diagnosed by AI at a less time, less cost and less pain. Telemedicine coming up in a large way, doctors sitting far away can examine patients of chest and lung through electronics-stethoscopes by studying them on the monitor in his chamber. Thus a patient in remote area can get the service of a specialist sitting in the city, at a fraction of cost. By this, problems of lack of doctors in villages will be solved. Field of this will expand.
This has the definite potential to reduce human error, in both diagnosis and surgery which now happens at least in 20% of cases in our country, but goes unreported. This will reduce misbehavior and harassment of patients increasing their dignity. More and more AI technology has to be applied in healthcare, this will reduce the acute present shortage medical personnel and equipment, and costs.
This will also help throw out a bunch of present inefficient exploitative medical people with dubious knowledge in the discipline who is considered still as demi-God by our innocent and poor patients having no alternative to resort to. People are waiting for their deliverance. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IS THE ANSWER.