These Two Engineering Students from India Build AI Software That Helps Patients When Doctor Is Not Around

Indian medical industry is fostering and so is the Indian Population and poor health of the people. There are more patients on the hospital beds than the treatment capacity of doctors. As a result, thousands of people die every year because of the unavailability of affordable and appropriate treatment.

As per a study conducted in April-2019, India has a shortage of an estimated 600,000 doctors and 2 million nurses. This was discovered by scientists in Washington, who found that lack of staff that is properly trained in administering antibiotics is preventing patients from accessing life-saving drugs.

Source: Economic Times

Indian Healthcare industry and too many shortcomings of which, patient’s inability to afford treatment and medication due to poverty is currently being backed by the unavailability of skilled health professionals. However, a recent invention made by two Indian engineering students may become a milestone in Indian Healthcare industry.

Shivanshu Mathur and Raghav Jain, two students from Lovely Professional University, currently studying B.Tech in Computer Science Engineering have developed software called ‘Medicare’.

It is a type of artificial intelligence software which can help assist or may replace a doctor in the diagnosis phase. The software uses its machine learning algorithms to analyse the symptoms of a patient. Apart from this it also takes data inputs from any medical or experts report that the patient can provide. Then it runs a complete diagnosis on the state of the patient to figure out the problem, disorder or disease of the patient.

The machine acts as a replacement of a doctor performing initial diagnosis but does not necessarily provide conclusive evidence of the results generated. It means the final words shall come from a health professional only.

The developers believe that the software can be tweaked and perfected and it will be able to revolutionize the state of public healthcare in rural India. This is crucial because there is a crisis of appropriate healthcare facilities and personnel in rural India and hence, affected people have to face a lot of problem in getting timely and effective health treatments.

Shivanshu and Raghav have won 2nd prize at the ‘NEC India Hackathon 2019’ organized by HackerEarth for their work along with a cash prize of Rs. 1.5 lakh for developing this AI software.

Software like Medicare will yield a lot of benefits and can be proven real good in remote locations where there is a severe shortage of skilled doctors. The software would require a semi-skilled professional with basic knowledge of how to operate the system. Apart from this, developers are working on improving its design to make its use easy and understandable.

Not only will the software be rendered helpful in remote locations, where there is a shortage of doctors, but it can also help lessen the burden of medical professionals in major hospitals where there is a lot of workloads. The software, with the help of trained personnel, can run the initial diagnosis of the patient, helping the doctors to determine the real problem and disease, so the doctors get a head-start.

As the Logical Indian quoted Shivanshu Mathur, “The doctor-patient ratio in India is less than desired. On top of it, a considerable amount of a doctor’s time goes in basic diagnosis. With our solution, all this time can be saved and be used for treating more patients while the technology takes care of diagnosis. I would love to work towards building a solution like this.”

Also, since the software is an artificially intelligent one, it might objectively consider diseases, which a doctor may otherwise not have. This is because doctors might have a preconceived notion of what a patient is suffering from, but the AI software will consider all the factors.

Mathur and Jain were two of 731 contestants taking part in these two-month-long ‘Hackathon’, from some of India’s top universities. The competition was not only about conceptualising something. Participating teams also had to build a working prototype in the final round.

The co-developer of Medicare, Raghav said, “For a country like ours, marrying technology to medicine is imperative,” “What is also interesting is the role of data analytics and machine learning, a technology that in one instance can be used to sell more credit cards, while in the other instance can actually help save lives!”

This is a revolutionary technology, which would alter the way we diagnose diseases. It will change the doctor’s conventional way of dealing with patients and will give the medical industry another edge and space to improve and focus on bigger things. However, since the software is ultimately a machine, hence it is hard to say, how much believable the diagnosis would be and hence, a lot of individuals would still prefer consulting a human doctor than a machine one, even though it is initial examination only.

Author: Keshav Kothari

A young CA Aspirant who is a writer and a photographer with the zeal to convey a positive perception through his work.

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