How medical AI can improve health outcomes
Sachin Dev Duggal, CEO and Founder of Builder.ai, an AI-powered software development platform, talks about unlocking the power of AI in healthcare settings
How has the healthcare sector’s relationship with technology evolved?
Healthcare is an incredibly busy and demanding environment to work in. When people’s lives are on the line, there is little room for mistakes – and healthcare budgets need to be taken as far as they can possibly go. The UK healthcare system’s relationship with technology has a varied, sometimes checkered history, that have cost billions of tax pounds and not yielded the right result or just failed.
But in recent years, new advancements in innovations like artificial intelligence (AI) and the internet of things have intrinsically linked technology with better healthcare outcomes, efficiencies and patient experiences. AI, in particular, has helped open up extremely valuable opportunities for exploration and research, while also enabling higher flexibility to previously very costly software changes. As a result, experts have been able to become even more specialised in their field, more efficient and, most importantly, more effective in their research and treatment than ever before.
In what ways has AI already progressed in healthcare settings?
We have seen great progression around application development for virtual nurses, helping to bring care to a wider number of patients based on real-time engagements. AI has allowed robotics to advance at a scale previously unimagined, and saved many lives through early detection of diseases and cancers, which humans are unable to do at scale. It has accelerated the discovery of new drugs to help combat illnesses globally. In the backend of healthcare systems, there are also lots of obscure use-cases where AI has seen rapid progress, such as IT workflow automation, fraud detection and medical data security, which remains a challenge amidst the industry’s efforts to protect patients’ records and privacy.
Hospital operations can occupy anything between 20% and 80% of a healthcare professional’s time, with administrative tasks distracting from patient care. By leveraging AI to streamline and eliminate those tasks, you can not only alleviate current resource capacity shortfalls but also reinvest that time into planning better patient care for the future. The benefits of AI are huge and wide-ranging, but developing these kinds of applications in-house is costly and time-intensive, which has held healthcare providers back from embracing AI’s true power.
How can healthcare organisations embrace AI applications without having to acquire the tools and resources to develop them in-house?
Developing AI applications no longer has to be costly or time-intensive. Healthcare professionals can now build their projects quickly and accurately at scale, without any technical expertise. Builder.ai automates the heavy lifting element associated with engineering through an AI powered assembly line. This fuses Lego-like, reusable building blocks and a verified network of experts to customise them, with deep automation that vastly reduces human effort. It allows you to build a project in a fraction of the time that it would traditionally take, and with better accuracy. Reducing the time taken to build from up to 12 months to as little as two weeks. Crucially, our failure rate is less than 5%, which means the blockers that you often get with in-house developers are now a thing of the past. And because of the greatly improved efficiency, we can not only substantially reduce the cost of a project, but also offer guaranteed pricing up-front.
What kind of use cases has Builder.ai worked on in the healthcare sector?
We’ve brought to life some truly inspiring ideas within the healthcare sector. One example that springs to mind is in rural Kerala, India, where people didn’t have convenient access to medical facilities when they fell ill. To help solve this problem we partnered with Qure, a startup offering quality care at affordable prices. Together, we built an app that connects patients, pharmacies and doctors on a single platform. Today, unwell people in Kerala can instantly connect with their doctor for advice and receive personalised treatment plans, with doctors able to prescribe medication that gets delivered directly to the patient’s home.
Another example is the wellbeing app and social platform Moodit, who approached us because they wanted to enable people to take better control of their wellbeing by breaking down the stigma associated with mental health. The app we produced uses an AI-based algorithm to aggregate and analyse data in order to provide users with deeper knowledge about how to manage their own mental health. The app uses the data to predict patterns that flag mental health difficulties, offering advice and early intervention to help safeguard users.
How have AI-based apps supported the global response to the Covid-19 pandemic?
Today, almost every government worldwide has invested in a national healthcare app to help ease pressure on its healthcare system through unprecedented demand, and connect patients and the general public to important services and information. These apps have enabled healthcare systems to remain efficient, reducing hospital overcrowding and waiting times while helping everyone to feel safer through such a difficult period. They allow governments to connect patients with doctor practices, provide access to medication and treatment, and help to identify any potential exposure to prevent or limit Covid-19 reinfection.
Analysis by the University of Oxford found that for every 1% of the population that downloaded the app, it helped to reduce Covid-19 infection by 2.3%. If you calculate this in terms of staff hours worked, bed usage, admin and data processing, the overall cost of pharmaceutical intervention becomes a very expensive operation to maintain.
Another example of this is how AI was used to measure the spread of the virus and almost instantly visualize its path of transmission across a country, a city or even a town. I remember at the start of the pandemic, designing a spread detection framework (our signal framework) that used a massive amount of cellular phone data that exists out there to be able to see how the virus was spreading.
What is the future of AI in the healthcare sector?
The future of healthcare can be broken into six key areas: data sharing, interoperability, equitable access, empowered consumers, behaviour change and scientific breakthrough. Software engineering is an integral part of that process and Builder.ai is helping produce software at scale, massively reducing the time from idea to reality. Our AI powered platform can accelerate efficiencies in each of these areas, increase speed and productivity, and reduce costs on a mass scale.
For more information, visit Builder.ai
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