How Microsoft Is Expanding Its Healthcare Initiative In India Using AI

Artificial intelligence and machine learning can become a great asset in improving healthcare services especially in India where there is just one doctor for around 1,700 people in India and about 70 percent of healthcare infrastructure is focused around few cities that cater to only 30 percent of the population. Microsoft is one among the several companies who are exploring various applications of artificial intelligence and machine learning in healthcare segment – from predicting heart diseases to diagnosing illness to monitoring critical care. According to a report, the market for artificial intelligence in healthcare application is expected to grow at a CAGR of 42 per cent until 2021.

Microsoft recently ventured into cardiology segment by entering into a partnership with Apollo Hospital to detect the patient risk of heart disease through artificial intelligence and provide more appropriate treatment to those have heart problems.

Microsoft’s Healthcare Venture in India

Cardiology Initiative

Microsoft’s latest initiative is another giant step towards healthcare services to prevent heart-related diseases with the help of machine learning algorithms. In India, heart disease is amongst the leading cause of mortality, which is exacting a toll on the health and well-being of people. The propensity of Indians developing a heart disease is more acute. According to a Global Burden of Disease Report, 1.7 million Indians died of cardiovascular illnesses, making heart disease a leading cause of death in India.

A new initiative between Microsoft and Apollo Hospital are on its way to create new machine learning AI algorithms in cardiology segment in healthcare, which will help doctors to structure data and use algorithms to begin treatment whilst the disease is at the nascent stage.

According to Peter Lee, Corporate Vice President (AI and Research), Microsoft, “AI network for healthcare aims to democratise AI by empowering healthcare providers with faster, intuitive and predictable solutions and reducing the diseases burden. The systems of intelligence we create can change the lives of patients and the work of medical practitioners enabling accessible healthcare to all,”

Eyecare Initiative

Not only Apollo, there are other hospitals who tied up with Microsoft for using machine learning and data analytics to improve patient care in India. About two years ago, Microsoft engaged with LV Prasad Eye Institute to launch a consortium called Microsoft Intelligent Network for Eyecare, that helps predict regression rates for eye operations, enabling doctors to take necessary steps to prevent and treat visual impairments. Bascom Palmer – University of Miami, Flaum Eye Institute – University of Rochester (USA), Federal University of Sao Paulo (Brazil) and Brien Holden Vision Institute (Australia) are the partner organizations of this consortium.

The company had also tied up with Telangana last year to use MINE platform to screen children for eye problems and prevent avoidable blindness. With this initiative, Telangana became the first state in India to bring artificial intelligence in public health screening.

In January, Microsoft has collaborated with Sankara Eye Hospital to launch Maitri. It is a first of its kind bus customized to offer vision rehabilitation in remote areas of Karnataka to identify citizens suffering from vision problems and provide comprehensive rehabilitation services.

Other Initiatives

In order to fight tuberculosis, it has enabled a technology project called 99 Dots to improve medication adherence for tuberculosis patient. With the help of 99 Dots, patients can actually communicate with their doctors or care providers and be tracked without going to a clinic. The real-time adherence reports are available on the web. The Indian government is using 99 Dots for every patient who is co-infected with Tuberculosis and HIV.

Besides these initiatives, the company has also collaborated with hospitals to enhance knowledge management and productivity in healthcare. In 2007, Fortis Healthcare partnered with Microsoft partnered to make documents, workflows, projects and performance management a common sharePoint portal available to Fortis employees, doctors and nurses across all its centres.

Narayana Health is working with Microsoft cloud solution for its own Hospital Management System. Microsoft Research is working on a Deep Learning Project with Narayana Health to carry out predictive analysis based on medical imaging. The hospital is also leveraging Microsoft BI to analyze data for making more effective decision. “With the help of Microsoft BI the hospital can now generate reports and associated analysis for the entire group within 24 hours,” Vivek Rajagopal, VP and Head of Business Analytics of Narayana Health said.

Healthcare NExT

The recent initiatives by Microsoft are a part of Healthcare NExT aimed to accelerate healthcare innovation in India through cloud computing and artificial intelligence.

This is not the first time that Microsoft has ventured into healthcare segment. The company made its initial foray into healthcare over a decade ago but it ended up selling off or cutting down most of its healthcare assets it originally acquired. A year ago, CEO Satya Nadella formed a new division within Microsoft called Healthcare NExT to improve healthcare. This initiative is the first of its kind where Microsoft is using huge amount of AI and cloud processing to growing amount of health data.

Healthcare NExT aims to transform the healthcare sector by leveraging its existing AI work and Azure cloud resources. It collaborates with existing players in the healthcare industry to integrate robots, voice recognition and cognitive services, which in turn helps in offering personalised and instant access to medical records, ultimately helping the sick patient on priority, reduces data entry efforts and automate outpatient care.

“This area is uncharted territory for us. We have to go there because the positive potential for human health is so enormous and Microsoft is under no illusion to understand all of these issues that we will need to confront and solve there,” Peter Lee, Microsoft Research executive in charge of the NExT initiative said.

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Smita Sinha
I have over three-years of experience in editing, reporting. My career in journalism began with The Economic Times. When I am not busy, I read, I binge-watch web series.

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