The typical Indian attitude towards healthcare is hesitation. We just do not want to go to the hospital and are content to do self-diagnosis and have a set of general medicines, which we deem is fine. The reasons to this are varied. If you analyze the Indian health sector, the first thing that strikes you is that it is not as easily accessible.  There simply are not as many doctors as is needed.

According to the Medical Council of India, there are about 8 lakh doctors available, as of 2016, to treat patients. This gives a ratio of 1 doctor for every 1668 patients. This shows a startlingly low number of doctors to treat the people of our country.

But this trend is now declining as many hospitals and healthcare brands are changing the scenario and bringing more and more improvements to the sector and bringing more doctors into the fold. It is remarkable that the recent strides taken in the healthcare sector have followed a bottom- up approach, where we see doctors and medical specialists going into the rural areas to treat patients.

To illustrate, various states like Meghalaya, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand have expanded its eligibility criteria for government sponsored health insurance, so as to include a wider range of people, especially keeping in mind the rural areas. This, in itself, is testimony to the noteworthy way Indian healthcare is improving.

But is this enough? Will these steps be enough to sustain our growing and developing healthcare system? Or do we need something else to enhance this, so as to ensure the healthcare offered in our country is the absolute best?

This is where, I believe, Artificial Intelligence comes to play. It can supplement the existing system and make sure that everyone has access to the best healthcare systems. It can bridge this gap between the increasing demand for healthcare and the availability of services. AI has the potential to not only make healthcare available for everyone, but also to make it affordable for all regardless of their economic backgrounds.

Usually there is a reactive approach towards healthcare, with many people thinking they will utilize the services when they get sick. The use of AI can shift this trend to that of a proactive one, where people seek medical attention before the worst would hit. With technology like Fitbits and smart watches, it is easy to understand detect the onset of a variety of diseases. All of these gadgets use simple, non-invasive technology.

There are now a lot of innovative startups like Niramai for painless breast cancer scanning, Advacells, which makes stem-cell therapy affordable, and many other such chatbots, specialized apps etc. that aims to make healthcare much more cost effective and affordable, as well as make physical distances non- existent.

AI also eliminates human biases and errors which are bound to happen. With AI, we can save time, money and efforts through unbiased and highly efficient diagnosis, with almost zero margin of error.

AI can continuously analyze and predict newer and better combinations of medicines which can be custom made for patients, and also utilize these predictions to come up with cures for various dangerous and deadly diseases. With a wide repertoire of cases, it is possible for AI to make new learnings and thus find new ways to save lives, better and faster.

AI can also bring the healthcare systems to the people, irrespective of their physical locations, thus giving easy access for the rural people.

Healthcare in India is growing by leaps and bounds. Though there were some drawbacks, various medical agencies, hospitals etc. are changing this scenario and improving the overall facilities. But the stepping stones to building a much better healthcare system, have been put in place with AI technology.  How we build up on it, utilize it, is up to us. I truly believe, that with AI, we can see a better future for the already improving healthcare in India.