By Kalyan Sivasailam
Amidst the extensive matrix of healthcare outcomes contributing to global death and disability, preventable mortality stands out. These avoidable casualties constitute one-third to half of all cases, amounting to a distressing statistic that cannot be overlooked. Not only does this alarming trend lead to a devastating loss of life, but it also places an overwhelming burden on our healthcare systems. However, the advent of artificial intelligence (AI) offers hope, promising innovative solutions to reduce and potentially eliminate these preventable tragedies.
Over the last decade, low and middle-income countries faced a significant burden of 15.6 million excess deaths attributed to 61 different conditions. After excluding deaths preventable through public health measures, it was revealed that 8.6 million excess deaths could have been averted through healthcare interventions. Of these avoidable deaths, 5 million were linked to substandard care quality, while 3.6 million were a result of inadequate utilisation of healthcare services. This data underscores the profound impact of insufficient healthcare quality on mortality rates, spanning a wide range of conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, injuries, neonatal complications, and communicable disorders.
The daunting figure of 41 million lives lost annually to noncommunicable diseases — accounting for 71 per cent of all deaths worldwide, as the World Health Organization reported — is a solemn reminder of the challenge we face. These are largely preventable diseases, and their persistent prevalence speaks volumes about our healthcare system’s shortcomings. Yet, amidst this disheartening scenario, AI emerges as a potent tool that can provide a significant shift toward an era of proactive and predictive healthcare.
Harnessing AI For Proactive Healthcare
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AI-based systems are set to transform healthcare delivery, focusing on prevention and early detection to reduce the burden of preventable diseases. Machine learning algorithms delve deep into the vast expanses of patient data, detecting nuanced patterns and identifying the early stages of diseases, often before the onset of visible symptoms. This predictive ability equips healthcare providers with the foresight to intervene early and alter the course of disease progression.
Case in point, Google’s DeepMind AI has demonstrated a game-changing ability to predict acute kidney injury up to 48 hours in advance with 90 per cent accuracy, surpassing traditional models. This notable success underscores the transformative potential of AI, underscoring how technology can safeguard patient health and improve clinical outcomes.
Reinventing Diagnostics Through AI
Beyond predictive capabilities, AI has begun redefining the medical diagnostics landscape. Utilising AI tools for interpreting medical images and automating image analysis enhances the accuracy of radiologists while reducing human error. Natural Language Processing allows AI to pre-read diagnostic reports, facilitating streamlined reporting for radiologists.
Moreover, AI systems augment the diagnostic process through quality assurance, standardising the process by diligently reviewing reports for errors and inconsistencies. By elevating the precision, efficiency, and accessibility of diagnostics, AI fosters informed decision-making and superior patient care.
Empowering Treatment Strategies With AI
In the face of the burgeoning obesity crisis, with prevalence rates ranging from 39.8 per cent among adults aged 20 to 39 years, 44.3 per cent among adults aged 40 to 59 years, and 41.5 per cent among adults aged 60 and older, AI provides much-needed support. AI tools can help identify high-risk patients, predict the likelihood of complications, and suggest personalised interventions for obesity and related health issues.
The potential of AI in guiding proactive actions and tailoring treatment plans for individuals ensures early intervention, targeted support, and improved patient outcomes. This paves the way for a paradigm shift in healthcare delivery, transforming reactive approaches into predictive and preventive care.
The Path Forward
Integrating AI into healthcare isn’t merely a technological advancement; it represents a fundamental shift in our approach toward healthcare delivery. It signifies transitioning to a more proactive, predictive, personalised, and precise healthcare system. As we march towards a future shaped by AI, we inch closer to a world where preventable deaths become a historical footnote rather than a grim reality.
However, the journey has only just begun. We must continue to push the boundaries of AI’s potential in healthcare, fueled by our unwavering commitment to improving and prolonging human life. As we navigate the complexities of AI and healthcare, our collective focus must remain on leveraging technology to its fullest potential to save lives and enhance the quality of care, thereby turning the tide on preventable mortality.
(The author is the co-founder and CEO of 5C Network)
Disclaimer: The opinions, beliefs, and views expressed by the various authors and forum participants on this website are personal and do not reflect the opinions, beliefs, and views of ABP Network Pvt. Ltd.
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