Tech giants focus AI in healthcare as India joins the bandwagon

As the buzz around Artificial Intelligence (AI) acquired ground in 2018, tech giants decided to utilize the Machine Leaning (ML)-based algorithms not only to help organizations to drive growth but also to advance healthcare worldwide and India was an early adaptor.

There were debates on democratizing or creating an ethical AI most of the years. Meanwhile, the actual work grew on developing, AI-based predictive models capable to do human tasks, for example, visual perception, speech recognition, brain-computer network and translation between languages.

Now, only one in 10 people with disabilities globally has access to assistive technologies and products.

In May, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella started “AI for Accessibility” — a $25 million, five-year programme for developers worldwide including in India.

Due to this programme, the developers have used AI tools to drive the development process, by making it accessible and intelligent AI solutions for around one billion people with disabilities.

Outlined for the low-vision community, one such Microsoft app called “Seeing AI” is harnessing the power of AI to describe people, text and objects. It can tell blind people what is around them.

Amazon’s Cloud arm Amazon Web Services (AWS) has an ML service known as SageMaker which is used by developers to create AI models for health care. GE Healthcare is training computer vision models with Amazon SageMaker which are then used in its MRI and X-Ray devices.

Amazon Comprehend Medical is a natural language processing (NLP) service for medical text which deploys ML to bring out disease conditions, medications and results of the treatments from patient notes, clinical trial reports and other electronic health records.

Google is also deploying AI models on smartphones to help the blind. It works on an app called “Lookout” which uses image recognition and AI to describe a scene through a phone’s camera.

Amelia, promoted as the world’s “most human” AI assistant, created by New York-headquartered AI company Ipsoft — unites automation, cognitive and emotional intelligence with ML capabilities to perform as a digital colleague.

Amelia helps patients to self-manage in arranging doctors’ appointments, tests and medicines. She also gives advice according to the condition and well-curated health management tips.

While tech giants started training AI for health care, the “AI for accessibility” dream also reached India in big way in 2018.

In December, Google declared that it has developed an AI model that can identify diabetic retinopathy with a level of accuracy on equivalence with human retinal specialists.  Google is working on launching this diabetic retinopathy initiative in clinics in India with Verily — an Alphabet-owned company which does research on life sciences and its development.

According to Google, the new assistive technology can assist doctors and staff by screening more patients in less time, sparing people from blindness through a more timely diagnosis.

NITI Aayog in October started a partnership with Microsoft to set up AI technologies in areas such as agriculture, health care, natural language computing and sustainable environment.

Microsoft India and Apollo Hospitals in August launched the first-ever AI-powered heart disease risk score API (application programme interface) to predict the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) among the Indian population.

Part of Microsoft’s “AI Network for Healthcare” initiative will help doctors across the Apollo network of hospitals and influence the AI-powered API to predict the threat of CVD and drive protective cardiac care across the country.

The company also applied AI to devices for early detection of diabetic retinopathy to prevent blindness. Microsoft India also declared its partnership with SRL Diagnostics to increase the “AI Network for Healthcare” to pathology to detect cancer.

Microsoft Intelligent Network for Eye care (MINE) has been adopted by the Telangana government, which was grown in partnership with Hyderabad-based LV Prasad Eye Institute.

MINE uses ML and advanced analytics to predict the decreasing rates for eye operations, allowing doctors to identify the procedures required to prevent and treat visual impairments.

The Telangana government is also using Microsoft’s Cloud-based advanced analytics solution to screen children from birth to 18 years of age for major conditions affecting their health.

In October, global health technology firm Philips selected 19 start-up companies for its first global start-up partnership programme which is focused on the application of artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare.

The programme centers on the application of AI-based clinical decision support tools, such as image interpretation, analysis and integration and workflow tools, such as intelligent treatment plans for radiology, ultrasound and oncology.

In November, IBM partnered with IIT-Delhi (IIT-D) to participate in a multi-year research collaboration on AI in India, with a focus on sectors such as healthcare and medicine.

Mr Nadella said that recent advances in AI have been “pretty stunning” but what the humanity is going to see soon will be even more thoughtful across the spectrum and health care is set to become an AI-first industry, with 2018 setting up the pace.