Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help fight systemic challenges straining global healthcare systems with AI-driven diagnosis, infectious disease intelligence and clinical trial optimisation showing the highest potential, a new study said on Monday.
The report published by the World Economic Forum (WEF) cited several case studies, including one from India, to highlight the transformative potential of AI in healthcare and the importance of public-private collaboration in driving its global adoption. The Indian case study found that Apollo Hospitals was using AI to assess cardiovascular risk more accurately than established benchmarks and at a massive scale. Nearly 18 million people die each year from heart disease, accounting for an estimated 32 per cent of worldwide deaths and this burden is especially high in India, where cardiovascular disease is characterized by early onset, rapid progression and high mortality rate.
“Apollo Hospitals operates more than 50 hospitals serving more than 300 million patients across India. Given its position on the front lines of the disease, Apollo aspired to create a risk stratification algorithm that would provide a heart disease ‘score’ for any patient in India to be more accurate than traditional risk stratification approaches,” the WEF said. The study, conducted in collaboration with global management consulting and technology firm ZS, aims to spur public-private collaboration to accelerate the responsible application of AI in healthcare, the WEF said. It proposed a global taxonomy for healthcare AI uses and shows how global healthcare systems could unlock the full potential of these new technologies to transform patient care, reduce costs and enable people to live healthier, longer lives.
“We are at a critical juncture in global health and healthcare, as mounting headwinds threaten collective wellness as well as employers, economies, budgets and societal resilience,” said Shyam Bishen, Head of the Centre for Health and Healthcare and Member of the Executive Committee at WEF. “Closely governed advancements in AI are critical to supporting a broader digital and data-driven transition to intelligent healthcare systems, which can meet populations’ needs and transform healthcare outcomes, access, and efficiency,” he added. ZS CEO Pratap Khedkar said, “The question is no longer whether the technology exists for AI to transform healthcare. It does..
“The question is whether or not stakeholders can pull together to set the conditions for its widespread use and adoption. If adopted broadly and responsibly, AI holds the potential to radically transform healthcare systems and improve health outcomes for all,” he added. The WEF said its report is based on a comprehensive analysis of more than 400 existing AI use cases as well as in-depth interviews with 50 global leaders across technology, healthcare delivery, biopharma, government, academia and more. It underlined AI’s potential to diagnose a range of diseases at scale, leading to early interventions for individuals at greater risk, as well as counter infectious diseases through AI-powered systems that can predict future outbreaks, map their spread and deliver customized mitigation strategies to reduce their impact.
Clinical trials can be enhanced by facilitating optimal site selection, participant recruitment and the creation of more representative synthetic data, it added. Besides highlighting the potential of AI in healthcare, the report also identified common barriers to its adoption. These barriers include insufficient high-quality data, low trust in AI solutions and inadequate technological infrastructure, among others. Public-private support for creating a strong data foundation and improved privacy laws, responsible and transparent design of AI algorithms, and significant investment to adopt these technologies at scale will be crucial to overcome these barriers and ensure equitable access to these innovations worldwide, the WEF said.