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Taking a Winning Leap!

India finally seems to be on the path for universal healthcare. Ayushman Bharat, organized on a platform of health and wellness centers promises to cover primary, secondary, and tertiary healthcare to ensure that citizens of this country are able to access quality healthcare in an affordable manner.

No doubt, adequate funds need to be made available by the government, empanelment of hospitals needs to be speedily done under the NHPS, and standardization in cost of care put in place. It would also require a large partnership among various stakeholders.

On the implementation side, it would be prudent to take the winning leap into technology-enabled healthcare. Rapid developments in mobile technologies, cloud computing, digital imaging, machine learning, and 3D printing have paved the way for breakthroughs in the development and adoption of healthcare technologies – from telemedicine to nanotechnology, lab-grown 3D organs to internet of medical things, and EHR to AI.

AI, defined here as augmented intelligence, and not artificial intelligence will offer new doors into the healthcare system. It is poised to transform healthcare with examples ranging from supercomputers identifying hard-to-diagnose cancers; robots assisting surgeons with complex procedures; and chatbot therapists supporting patients with cognitive behavioral therapy. It will manage the information extracted in the clinical context of the patient and allow physicians to focus on the patient versus drowning in the data; assist caregivers in the early detection of diseases based on certain triggers in vitals; and elevate pathologists where algorithms process, match patterns, and flag likely diagnoses from scans and medical images far more quickly than any human could ever hope to.

Perhaps an advisory group focused on using AI and machines to revolutionize medicine could be formed. It could bring together technology stakeholders and patient advocates with member physicians from private practice, research, and education. The board would represent the diversity of patient experience with members from large and small practices; rural and urban settings; early and late-career professionals; and women and diversity specialists.

There is a window open to act right now; Modicare must not become the same nightmare that Obamacare was!!

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