August 6, 2020

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Indian Ministry of Health explores AI solutions for TB

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The Health Ministry has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Wadhwani Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI) to explore the applications of the technology in its fight against TB.

According to a press release, as part of the collaboration, Wadhwani AI will help the government’s The Revised National TB Control Programme (RNTCP) become “AI-ready”. This would include developing, piloting, and deploying AI-based solutions.

The institute will also support the programme in vulnerability and hot-spot mapping, modelling new methods of screening, diagnostics, and enabling decision support for caregivers. Also, it will support the RNTCP in the adoption of other AI technologies.

The RNTCP has been at the forefront of the adoption of newer technologies in healthcare. AI provides a unique opportunity for the health sector; being efficient, saving resources, bringing accuracy in interpretation, and enhancing the quality of service delivery.

Its use in this sector has ample scope to improve outcomes, especially in situations where resources are limited. India is committed to ending TB by 2025, five years ahead of the United Nation’s Global Sustainable Development targets.

The Indian government has said that it is expending the following ICT-based treatment adherence support mechanisms:

  • Mobile-based “Pill-in-Hand” adherence monitoring tool
  • Interactive Voice Response (IVR), SMS reminders
  • Specially designed electronic pillboxes or strips with GSM connection and pressure sensor
  • Patient compliance toolkit: a mobile app for patients to report treatment compliance using video, audio, or text messages
  • Automated pill loading system
  • ICT-enabled smart cards SMS gateway

OpenGov reported earlier that India is leading in the adoption of digital health technology with 76% of healthcare professionals in the country already using digital health records (DHRs) in their practice.

According to the FHI, which is based on primary research conducted across 15 countries, India meets the average when it comes to the usage of AI within healthcare at 46%.

Digital health technology is a pivotal pillar in delivering value-based care across the healthcare continuum in India. Tools including telehealth and adaptive intelligence solutions can help lower the barriers between hospitals and patients, thereby improving access to care and enhancing overall patient satisfaction, particularity in tier II and III cities in India.

80% of healthcare professionals in India have shared patient information with other professionals inside their health facility, which is equal to the number of healthcare professionals who share patient information electronically across the 15-country average.

The report showed that when Indian healthcare professionals are supported by digital technology, their experience improves. A majority of Indian healthcare professionals who use DHRs in their practice report that DHRs have a positive impact on quality of care (90%), healthcare professional satisfaction (89%), and patient outcomes (70%) when compared to the 15-country average of 69%, 64%, and 59% respectively.

64% of Indian healthcare professionals agree that patients having access to their own health data (including test results, prescriptions, scans, etc.) has positively impacted their patients’ experience.

87% of Indians with access to their digital health record say they want their healthcare professionals to have access as well.

About two-thirds (67%) of Indians feel comfortable or neutral about seeking medical advice from their doctor through a health application on their phone, suggesting a high willingness and openness to further adopt telehealth and unlock its benefits.

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