Centre for Internet & Society

Centre for Internet & Society (CIS) is organizing a roundtable on artificial intelligence (AI) and healthcare at 'The Energy and Resources Institute' (TERI) in Bengaluru on November 30, 2017 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. The roundtable seeks to discuss the various issues and challenges surrounding the implementation of AI and related technologies in the Indian healthcare sector.

The Indian healthcare industry, powered by Artificial Intelligence, is moving into a new era of increased innovation and independence. With multiple new healthcare start-ups and large ICT companies such as Microsoft, IBM, and Google offering AI solutions to healthcare challenges in the country, it is evident that AI is attempting to enhance the accessibility, affordability, quality and awareness of healthcare in India. Major target areas sought to be enhanced by use of AI in healthcare include addressing the uneven ratio of skilled doctors to patients and making doctors more efficient at their jobs, delivery of personalized and high-quality healthcare to rural areas, and training doctors and nurses in complex procedures.

Through the application of machine learning, data mining, natural language processing (NLP), and advanced analytics, AI can help doctors in speedy diagnosis of diseases. AI is also mobilised as ‘smart advisors’ or virtual humans who are capable of making informed decisions by better comprehending data and information through sensing interfaces and analytics, in various forms.

Some of these forms include ‘customer service agents’ that can expedite simple tasks like appointment scheduling, or more complex decisions like selecting health plan benefits, ‘clinicians’ that can help with primary screening in understaffed rural areas possibly substituting for human labour, and ‘cognitive agents’ that can efficiently manage existing clinical knowledge alongside physicians, nurses and researchers, thereby reducing the cognitive load on humans. AI based Indian healthcare start-ups such as SigTuple, Aindra, Ten3T, Touchkin and many others are offering a range of solutions including automation of medical diagnosis, automated analysis of medical tests, detection and screening of diseases, wearable sensor based medical devices and monitoring equipment, patient management systems, predictive healthcare diagnosis and disease prevention.

However, AI in healthcare raises many potential concerns, a common one being the lack of comprehensive, representative, interoperable, and clean data - a challenge that is beginning to be addressed through the Electronic Health Records Standards developed by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in 2016 by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Other major challenges include patient adoption and the need for personal interaction with doctors, concerns over mass-scale job losses, distrust in technology, and ethical concerns.

It is imperative to note that implementing AI in healthcare, which is bound to disrupt it, does not imply replacing doctors but augmenting their efforts to create a more efficient healthcare landscape in the country. A harmonious collaboration of man and machine is expected to bring about a meaningful and long-lasting impact and stakeholders should be prepared to adapt to this change and the challenges that come with it.

Roundtable Agenda

Thursday, November 30, 2017, 2:00pm - 5:00pm

2:00 - 2:30: Introduction and setting the scene

2:30 - 3:30: Discussion on the AI landscape in health in India:

  • Manner and extent of integration of AI into products/services of healthcare companies.
  • Relevant stakeholders and their roles in implementing AI into products/services of healthcare companies.
  • Future of AI and related technologies in the healthcare sector

3:30 - 4:30: Discussion on challenges and solutions towards regulating AI in India:

  • Challenges faced in the conception and implementation of the AI product/service, and reasons for such challenges.
  • Regulatory provisions for implementation of AI in healthcare products/services under the existing laws, and need for reforms.
  • Challenges posed by AI to existing policy and regulatory frameworks in the Indian as well as the global context, and possible solutions.