Artificial intelligence(AI) in healthcare will change how the industry operates in India provided it can find the talent to support this shift.
- According to a survey conducted by
BML Munjal University, deep learning experts and AI experts will be one of the most in-demand skills for the healthcare sectoras it goes through a digital transformation.
- Vishal Talwar, the Dean of BML Munjal University, tells Business Insider what’s needed to make the shift in the healthcare sector a potential game-changer in the Indian context.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is bringing about a wave of change in nearly every sector of the economy, and healthcare is no exception to that rule. A new survey conducted by BML Munjal University shows that most executives across the country already have an AI strategy in place for their organisations. Execution of these strategies remains to be seen.
“Public and private sector investments, government push, health startup boom etc. could provide the necessary fillip required to make this a potential gamechanger in the Indian context,” Vishal Talwar, the Dean of School of Management, — BML Munjal University, told Business Insider.
High capital requirement is a key challenge in the implementation of AI. Cultural considerations, such as trust in AI technologies, is also a barrier that needs to be addressed. While consumers are open to use of AI, it cannot be considered a replacement for the soft skills that healthcare staff has to offer.
However, before any of this can be addressed, the primary challenge for executives is finding the right talent. As the nature of work changes and the workforce needs to be reskilled, more executives are investing heavily in upgradation to keep up with their competition.
AI-related skills and knowledge is a priority for hiring talent
Using AI is more efficient in diagnosing patients and reducing the rate of error. A
2020 study found that AI algorithms and deeping learning were able to diagnose breast cancer at a higher rate than 11 pathologists.
While the demand for AI-related skills is set to boom, a whopping 96% of executives say that current healthcare education needs significant upgradation in India to keep pace with the rapid change in technology.
“This gap will need to be addressed aggressively and the search will not be easy. Talent will need to be sought both within and outside the sector and thus approach to hiring as well as processes will be impacted,” said Talwar.
Talwar proposes that, in the long run, the healthcare education sector will have to work on this along with the industry to expand the talent base and offer a more integrated approach to learning.
“With higher infrastructure development costs, there may be a possibility of higher expenses in some quarters but organisations would be better off taking a long term view,” said Talwar.
Job creation will trump job losses
Executives also feel that the potential impact on jobs — reduction due to automation — is a big challenge given that low-skilled jobs will likely become redundant in the coming decade. But, it will also open up a whole new set of employment opportunities for the coming generation.
“As AI continues to evolve in healthcare, there would be more jobs created for new skill sets, it is being integrated in healthcare organisations to assist with care provision, not replace it. Moreover, experts believe that such technologies will be an important contributor to better decision making and not necessarily replacement,” explained Talwar.
Meanwhile, there will be a greater impetus on reskilling and upskilling of the current skill base across all ages. This is already a phenomenon across many sectors and is becoming imperative. “Continuing education will become rather relevant in all sectors including healthcare,” said Talwar.
Why does India need AI in Healthcare?
India’s healthcare system is one of the biggest in the world given that it caters to a population of 1.4 billion. But, it has a long way to go in terms of improving the quality of healthcare and making sure that everyone has access. And, that’s where AI comes in.
Using AI, people in the most remote locations of India will be able to access medical healthcare from top professionals. Mundane tasks like scheduling or tracking medical inventory can be left up to algorithms, reducing the costs of running day to day business.
In addition to operational efficiency, the use of chatbots and personalised solutions that can provide better patient experience in the healthcare space, which is highly competitive. But, these chatbots cannot be considered a replacement for actual human interaction. Soft skills will always have a role to play in patient care.
More than half of the executives surveyed say that they are already seeing significant benefits from AI adoption.
The recent experience in vaccine distribution in the US has thrown up challenges on inequality. Black and brown Americans are
receiving fewer coronavirus shots, despite dying at higher rates. The logistical challenge is something that AI can help solve. It can forecast demand, clear out bottlenecks and give quality assurance that the right dose is administered.
AI can also help monitor for any unusual side effects, especially with the new strains of COVID-19 popping up globally.
This is also an opportunity in terms of jobs and long-lasting changes to the healthcare sector that can be applied to other challenges like the distribution of the polio vaccine and ensuring that children and pregnant mothers get the right level of nutrition.
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