At least five patients die every minute because of unsafe care according to Doctor Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organisation Director-General. The statistics, reported last year, have only accelerated due to the global COVID-19 pandemic with healthcare systems extended beyond capacity.
For a healthcare system to be successful, it is critical to have complete information available to the correct person, at the right time, across the Continuum of Care . India is on the precipice of a digital health revolution and voice Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies such as Augnito can definitively propel efficiency in the process.
Healthcare ecosystems processes are constantly evolving. However, India has a doctor-patient ratio of 1:1596; essentially, less than one doctor’s (0.62) attention for more than 1,000 patients. Naturally, documenting patient information, that is Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) is a huge challenge. It’s a known fact that advanced healthcare providers in the US and UK markets can allocate up to three-to four hours a day simply inputting patient data. The tiresome effort is leading to “EMR Fatigue” or “Physician Burnout”.
Accurate and detailed patient data is at the core of any AI transformation in healthcare. This includes personalised and precise treatments, early disease detection along with access to virtual health assistance and telehealth platforms. These solutions are only possible with a robust foundation of Electronic Medical Records.
Speech Recognition AI combined with Natural Language Processing makes the entire process faster and more accurate. With the entire language of medicine built into this system, the room for error is negligible. Further, it can be combined with clinical decision support algorithms for error detection such as drug-to-drug interaction or drug-to-food interaction. In a country with more than 20 spoken languages and only English as the standard medical choice, this technology can be used to standardise patient data too.
Voice AI is equipped with several intangible benefits: better doctor and patient satisfaction, improved patient records and enhanced quality of reporting. But the financial advantages are more transparent and substantial. Doctors will be presented with more productive time, allowing them to treat a higher number of patients. This positively affects the bottom line for a doctor as well an organisation. Supporting healthcare professionals like nurses and medical secretarial staff too become more productive, effectively cutting down turnaround times and ramping up quick and effective discharge summaries, rendering a higher availability of beds for in-patient care. It also streamlines billing and insurance, thus preventing crores spent in medico-legal issues. A healthcare facility with a 2000-bed capacity could save close to INR 40 crore a year with the adoption of these solutions.
International organisations that have adopted these technical solutions have saved billions of dollars. Established voice tech companies in the US have multi-billion dollar valuations which demonstrates the financial impact of this technology on the sector. The opportunity for voice recognition in healthcare is only expected to increase as the global health virtual assistant market is predicted to grow up to $3.5 billion in 2025.
Speed, cost and accuracy is just the starting point. Recent advances in Voice AI have demonstrated the ability to detect diseases like Alzheimer's from voice inflections. Institutions like Carnegie Mellon and Cambridge University have been able to use this advanced research to deploy a cost-effective and efficient way for early detection of COVID-19, by the sound of your voice and cough on a smartphone App. There is growing evidence suggesting that speech patterns could detect heart disease. Voice analysis apps can also be used to identify signs of mental health disorders.
While this technology is still nascent, Voice AI is the way of the future. Soon, it will be embedded in people’s daily life tracking health and fitness, on mobile apps and wearables the same way as we track heart rates and sleep patterns today.
Today, the Voice User Interface (VUI) is on the precipice becoming just as vital as the Graphical User Interface (GUI). Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant have started to become ubiquitous to consumers. It is well known in the tech industry that it was Xerox who pioneered GUI at their Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) in the late 70’s. But it was actually Apple CEO, Steve Jobs who understood its immense potential after a visit to Xerox for a demonstration. Jobs then went on to pioneer the personal computer revolution with this technology.
In the same vein, voice interface solutions are redefining interactions in the automobile, logistics and biometrics industries. We, at Augnito, are excited to be at the forefront of this transformation in the Healthcare Industry.
(The author is Co-Founder & CEO of Augnito)