As the US alone has around 3000 start-ups followed

As
‘Sophia’, the humanoid, attains citizenship of a country and retains many
special rights which are not even offered to the women citizens of respective
country, the debate of artificial verses human intelligence gets heated again 2.
The debating communities on either side of the table, howsoever different
principally, appreciate the technology and emotionally expressive face of the
humanoid. This picture typically brings to our minds, a visualization of humans
being assisted by artificial intelligence in every sphere of life, to say the
least, that’s the basic idea behind their creation. Artificial
intelligence (AI) in human healthcare has been a game changer. The last 15
years were dedicated to smart devices that ensure speed, precision, monitoring
and control over health and diseases. This era has seen a shift in focus from
human resource (humanized team efforts) to data resource, from data resource
(collection of detailed medical facts and figures) to machine learning (large
data pool which starts co-relating these facts and figures) and from machine
learning to artificially obtained intelligence (ability to interpret a new
sample on the basis of past data analysis) (Fig.1).Electronic-health
(e-health) solutions are the software applications related to healthcare, that
provide tools, processes, and communication means to support electronic
healthcare practice (Hairong Yan et al., 2010; Hernandez et al., 2001; Ball and
Lillis, 2001; Dixon, 2007; Hsu et al., 2005). Mobile-health (m-health) comes
under the umbrella of e-health that refers to e-health functionality on mobile
phones which further diverges into technologies of networking, medical sensors,
computation and communication (Istepanian et al., 2004). There is another term
called tele-health which refers to medical counseling on phone by an expert
doctor to medical staff in remote areas lacking high end medical expertise.

Artificial
intelligence has recently stepped into healthcare but has made major
transformations to the whole system of diagnosis, analysis and even drug
development.

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AI around the
world

The geographical distribution of start-ups in artificial
intelligence around the world is itself an interesting topic to work on as the
dynamics are changing fast. There are several applications of AI like
healthcare, retail, financial services, manufacturing etc.,  and if all included, the US alone has around 3000 start-ups followed by China,
Britain, India and Canada. Countries like Israel, Germany, France, Spain and
Switzerland also make a mark .
Within the US, states holding maximum start-up sector were California (51%),
New York (11%), Massachusetts (9%)and states like Utah, Colorado, New jersey, Texas,
Illinois, Virginia, Washington, Michigan, Ohio and Florida are witnessing a generation
of well-funded start-up growth. Globally, the AI revenue is estimated to reach $37 billion by 2025.A sole share of $19.2 billon will be claimed by healthcare applications of AI
with image analysis leading the chase, followed by virtual assistance, patient
data processing, computational drug discovery and converting paperwork into
digital data.

Some products as
an example of collaborative research

Let us witness a few stories where biotechnology has wedded
multidisciplinary research and led to wonderful products.

 3D Printed bones

Rhys
Cornock, a 23-year-old graduate from University of Wollongong, Australia,
is transforming the world of medical sciences by his 3D printed bones.  He has used advanced bio-engineering
techniques to manufacture complex scaffolds that can exactly fit into fractured
bone areas with the help of specific scans and imaging of the fractured area.
These perfectly tailored bones, printed through 3D printers are then
transplanted into patients’ body.

Another product of the same
university is a bio pen that is used to deliver live cells and growth factors
directly to the site of injury. This reduces the surgery as well as recovery
time as regeneration of functional bone and cartilage is stimulated by the
growth factors. These types of implants are best for cases with diseased bone
structures. It is made from biodegradable, non-toxic material that provides a
structure through its polymer component and recovery through its growth factors
and drug component.

Sickle cell chip

A diagnostic kit developed by a team from IIT Bombay has made
it possible to detect sickle cell anemia, a common blood disorder found in
tribal areas of central and southern India. This kit is affordable, portable
and can be used even by untrained medical staff. Debjani Paul, Ninad Mehendale
and Ammar Jagirdar from the Indian Institute of Technology, Powai have
developed this kit as an example of lab on chip diagnostics that can facilitate
distant, rural, underprivileged sections of human population. The idea was
funded by BIRAC and the Bill & Melinda gates foundation. Invention of this
kit has proved to be a savior for all the patients especially children who died
before even being diagnosed with the disease. A drop of patient blood added to
this- reagents loaded plastic micro fluidic chip- can be imaged by a mobile
phone camera.

Other than these two stories, there
are other products like wearable solar cell based textiles and pairs of
affordable socks that do not need shoes as they are much tougher than steel. It
gives a feeling of barefoot walking and gives a fine grip to the feet.With the societal and lifestyle changes, health monitoring
and maintenance itself has become a challenge. The solution also comes from the
same age of e-health where artificial intelligence assists human intelligence
to confront these challenges of day-to-day life not only for the patients but
also for their caretakers. Mobile phones, electronic gadgets and internet
services have involved non-medical practitioners along with patients themselves,
to be the first monitors of their ailments, and have personalized health
monitoring and treatment. An ever-increasing number of healthcare startups are
incorporating machine learning and algorithm-driven platforms to achieve their
milestones though artificially intelligent solutions that can ease and
accelerate the process of diagnosis as well as interpretations for the doctors.

In the Indian scenario, the culture of healthcare startups
based on AI is mostly in tier 1 cities and the trend is likely to extend to
tier 2 cities with the increasing number of IT professionals interested in
multidimensional uses of their capabilities. Also the effective utilization of
funds and stimulating groups of venture capitalists are also increasing in
numbers some of who belong to neither healthcare nor software development, but
are still interested in investing into such ventures. Angel investors and
mentor groups associated with organizations like BIRAC which are working with
the prime objective of making healthcare startups a success, add to this
ecosystem. To top all this, the ‘make in India’ campaign initiated by
government of India supports this through its policies through ‘Atal incubation
mission’ (AIM), where constant funds are disbursed to universities and similar
institutions for development of  incubation centers, where new start-ups can be
incubated  without having to worry about
space, instrumentation and basic facilities. The contemporary trends of
utilization of AI in healthcare services remain in day to day monitoring of
vital data points, diagnostics and predictive analytics followed by deep
learning (Table 5), and companies like Tricog (Bangalore), Lybrate (Faridabad)
are strongly surfacing.

In the global context, AI already holds a big share of market
in the healthcare sector. There are devices that can automatically detect
diseases like anemia, malaria, leukemia and other cancers thus reducing waiting
time of the patients to get pathology reports before treatment. There are also
a category of devices, which are used to continuously monitor normal health
parameters like blood pressure, heart rate and sugar level (Table2). Non
Invasive techniques like ‘liquid biopsy’ (spit test),  cut off all the pain associated with the
diagnosis of cancer  and act as first
line of treatment as even a day saved in diagnosis is a chance won to survive
the disease. The general methods of
peeping inside the living systems like cardiac imaging, MRI, ECG, ultrasonography,
microscopy, tissue analysis, radiology etc. are known, and are evolving at a pace
faster, which is another level of research altogether. This ever growing and
unrolling world of technologies in diagnostics and analysis, to unfold the
inner secrets of human body, when amalgamated to data collection, deep learning
and AI, become a powerful combat against disease and illness.   

The process of drug discovery is a long
tedious and exorbitant process. A single over the counter (OTC)
drug may also prove extortionate for the pharmaceutical business sometimes.
Here, AI coalesced with bioinformatics (Table 3) proves to be the game changer
by working out years’ job in hours, plus the saved resources are an advantage. 

Another aspect of AI powered devices is that
they reduce complete dependence on medically trained staff. Some devices are so
user friendly and portable that the sophistication and complexity of a typical
hospital-type environment is completely kept at bay. Where on one hand devices
like portable dialysis machine (Table1) give the patient the ease of mobility,
the devices like absorbable heart stent eradicate the botheration of
aftereffects. Smart pill like medication today makes it completely possible to
track the exact time of ingestion of drug 
and devices like speech restorer and autonomous wheelchair not only act
as augmented body parts, but also impacts the patient’s personal and social
life by heightening their self- confidence.

The most apparent application of AI is patient data recording
and mining (Table 4). Using a robot to explain lab results to patients or
taking a chatbot as a life coach is no more an exaggeration now. The number of
efficient workers in healthcare is not a big number already, and this goes down
further as some members are busy only to maintain patient data records. Here AI
has played a vital role in helping the medical world with data collection,
maintenance and deriving a meaningful interpretation through deep learning.
This data mining is helpful not only for doctors and medical staff, but these
days insurance companies also use this information to digitally verify patient’s
insurance information to ensure it is valid and accurate and digitization
reduces the manual load. With the growing population, it is not possible to
proportionally increase the number of health practitioners per person, but it
is possible to make the process easier and faster through AI.

The interpretation based on data size is
sometimes more than even the number of cases handled by the health
professionals but anyways AI is used as a helping hand and not as an
alternative for doctors. Artificial intelligence has also accelerated
technology-assisted programs in areas like mental health- emotional
intelligence indicators and post-traumatic stress disorder treatment program
are already in market.  Rehabilitation
and dentistry.(E-health in low- and middle-income countries: findings from  the Center for Health Market Innovations
Trevor Lewis, a Christina Synowiec,b 
Gina Lagomarsinoa& Julian Schweitzer; Bull World Health Organ 2012;
90:332–340 doi:10.2471/BLT.11.099820). Healthcare research is as vast as the
curiosity of human mind and the challenges are ever changing with changing
times. This is off course just a beginning of wireless medical technologies, a
lot of research still needs to be done on at actual application of such devices
including the psychological responses of the subject. Moreover, this paradigm
shift in medical culture also needs to be supported and endorsed by doctors as
common people still consider a doctor’s advice over gadgets, and if so, the
extended expenditures should be justified. As nature finds out ways to balance
human population through constantly evolving diseases