Current healthcare systems are primarily focussed on having treatments and solutions that can treat large population with similar symptoms. It’s based on evidence and data which comes from a series of medical tests on a patient.
But soon, with genome sequencing and health sensors data coupled with the growing amount of Big Data patient data will create large data sets of valuable information which can start being used for more tailored treatments.
But as a single physician is not equipped to manually analyse this newly available data sets for insights, which is where advanced technologies such as AI come in.
Components of Precision Healthcare
Using AI to develop precision healthcare, doctors and researchers can accurately predict treatment and prevention strategies for a given disease for a group of people or individuals. AI and machine learning is used to identify patterns within high volume genome data sets.
The other key data elements of AI analysis are microbiome data, social and behavioural data, clinical tests data and already existing patients contributed data. Both in and out of the human body there is a huge array of micro-organisms such as bacteria, viruses and viruses that attack bacteria. Together these are called microbiomes. A plethora of conditions, from obesity to anxiety, appear to be linked to the microbes inside us.
Using some of the deep learning algorithms and techniques, AI is being used to identify patterns and correlation within genome and other data sets. The AI models built from these data sets can help identify affected genes and predict a probability of developing certain diseases for a sub-group of people or individual. This in turn helps define potential treatments and therapies for individuals and groups of patients. In turn this implements a patient- or population-specific treatment intervention instead of one-size-fits-all approach. Hence, precision healthcare.
The analysis can effectively be used by doctors to prevent and contain diseases in large populations.
Personal Data Privacy
Precision healthcare, however, raises the question of data privacy issues and concerns related to patient data. As a patient, are you comfortable with, or even aware of, where your personal data is being used? The data privacy issues will have to be addressed by precision healthcare providers within Government constituted legal framework. Precision healthcare and all the supporting data analysis using AI is designed to support doctors. Though AI technology is a core element of precision healthcare, Doctors will always have the final say in any healthcare decisions for an individual or group of people.
Healthcare insurance is key for any individual. The shift towards precision healthcare will in turn give rise to precision insurance. Precision insurance uses genome-based algorithmic insurance focused on susceptibility to areas such as physical diseases, mental health risks and the future cost of delayed-onset diseases.
Precision insurance relies on genetic testing data - a study and analysis of a person’s DNA to identify genetic differences or susceptibility to diseases or abnormalities. The cost of genetic testing has dropped drastically in the last 20 years. In the US, the cost per genome was US$100 million in 2001. That dropped to US$500,000 in 2008 and a remarkable US$200 in 2017.
As genetic testing has become affordable and accurate, insurance companies in some countries now offer multi-year agreements to offer genome sequencing for its customers and employees and requests the sharing of genetic data for additional benefits.
Under precision insurance, individuals once considered low-risk may be transitioned to high-risk categories based upon the discovery of genetic diseases that show up later in life. The inverse will also be true. Will precision insurance impact health insurance premiums you are paying? Well, it can go either way based on the analysis of genome and other data sets.
A Brave New World
AI technologies, precision healthcare and insurance are about to change the landscape of healthcare systems significantly.
The efficiency and effectiveness with precision healthcare is expected to relieve doctors from repetitive tasks. With precision healthcare, Doctors can develop targeted precise treatment and therapies for population as well as individuals. This can improve patient treatment to large populations in countries like India.
In India, forming a multi-disciplinary research body consisting of AI, human biology and medicine experts from IITs, NITs, AIIMS, renowned biology and other research institutes along with experts from IT and Healthcare Industry can help leapfrog the work in precision healthcare.
Abhay Pendse, Chief Architect, Persistent systems