Covid-19 pandemic has majorly accelerated healthcare digitization in India. Rahul Sharma, president, public sector–Amazon Internet Services Private Ltd (AISPL), Amazon Web Services (AWS)-India and South Asia talked about patterns that have emerged in healthcare digitization, data, adoption of machine learning and artificial intelligence in India’s healthcare ecosystem. Edited excerpts from an interview:
How covid-19 pandemic brought digitization of healthcare to the fore?
There are broadly two patterns that have emerged in healthcare digitization since the start of the pandemic. The first is the adoption of digital technologies by the central and state governments to monitor and track the spread of the pandemic, connect with various authorities for decision-making, and provide healthcare services that can help citizens. The pandemic created the need for collaboration among various stakeholders at an unprecedented scale – multiple departments and decision-makers in governance at the ward, city, district, state and national level; administration and medical staff at hospitals; drug manufacturers and distributors; care-givers and health counselors; volunteers; and police and security personnel.
This meant a large volume of data flow, data storage, analytics, and visualization, necessitated the need for a robust, scalable, and secure cloud platform to deliver it. The second trend is how technology has been adopted by healthcare organizations and companies developing products and services for the healthcare sector. Biotechnology companies have accelerated their use of cloud computing, machine learning (ML), and analytics for advancing research and development. Startups and independent software vendors (ISVs) that are focusing on the healthcare sector are applying these technologies to develop telemedicine and remote patient monitoring solutions, as well as analyse lab and radiology tests at scale in minutes.
How does AWS empower healthcare service providers with data?
The largest healthcare providers, payers and IT vendors to the smallest ISVs and newest startups, across the globe are applying AWS ML services to store, transform, and analyse health data. For example, we’re seeing ML being used to derive important insights and trends from healthcare and patient data to help medical specialists make better and quicker decisions – be it precision diagnosis using genomic sequencing, early-stage cancer detection or advanced cardiac visualization. At the same time, healthcare and life science customers are using ML to uncover new insights from scientific research and data by enabling researchers to quickly and easily search thousands of research papers and documents using natural language questions.
Data has also played a critical role in government decision-making. As part of the NASSCOM task force, AWS helped enable a covid-19 data platform for the government of Telangana. The solution was deployed within five days to help the state tackle the pandemic. The solution deploys more than 100 dashboards using anonymized government and public datasets, with hundreds of thousands of covid-19 related data points. This platform features the covid-19 India Vulnerability Map, which provides anonymized mobility data at a district-level, to enable a holistic view of the pandemic within the Telangana state. It also offers more than 10 ML models for covid-19 response, which enables decision-making to manage the lockdown and sustainable recovery scenarios in the industry zones across the state, including disease transmission predictions, citizen mobility analytics, situational awareness of disease spread, and hospital care readiness.
How is the ML ecosystem evolving in India?
There is a lot of interest in ML. More than 100,000 customers use AWS for ML today, right from creating a more personalized customer experience to developing personalized pharmaceuticals. ML went from being an aspirational technology to mainstream extremely fast. For a long time, the technology was limited to a few major tech companies and hardcore academic researchers. Things began to change when cloud computing became widely used. Compute power and data became more available, and now, ML is now making an impact across every industry, moving from the peripheral to a core part of every business and industry.
India is a growing economy and the scope of ML applications and AI is broad, and our customers are using these technologies to reinvent entire areas of their business. The scope of ML is vast even in application areas such as drones. AWS is working with the Drone Federation of India (DFI) to support the adoption of ML and AI-driven drone solutions among startups. The Adopt Drones Program from DFI will recognize ML-based solutions by drone application developers to generate deep insights from the data collected using drones, with a focus on 20 sectors, including agriculture, infrastructure, healthcare, and rural development.
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