India continues to experience 22-25 percent growth in the medical tourism sector and it is expected to be worth US$ 9 billion by 2020. The Government of India is also planning to intensify public health spending to 2.5 percent of the country’s GDP through 2025.
The country’s public health has undergone a lot of transformations during the past 10 years. Due to advancements across the health and development space, average life expectancy has gradually increased from 64 to 68 years between the period of 2005-2015.
At present, the union health ministry is exploring new ways to boost public health in India and is working towards utilizing Artificial Intelligence in a safe and productive manner.
On July 12, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said in Lok Sabha that to address gaps in India’s AI ecosystem and realise its economic impact, the central government has prioritised building AI technology capabilities.
He said during Question Hour, “The potential of AI in public health is being explored in our country. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) is working towards using AI in a safe and effective way in public health in India.”
Moreover, Vardhan emphasized a few of the initiatives undertaken by the central government to leverage AI in public health are imaging biobank for cancer. For that, the NITI Aayog along with Department of Biotechnology aims to create a database of cancer-related radiology and pathology images of over 20,000 profiles of cancer patients with a focus on major cancers prevalent in India.
NITI Aayog is working on using AI for early detection of diabetic retinopathy, according to him. “The NITI Aayog is currently in the process of developing an institutional mechanism, funding framework and other such steps to realise India’s AI aspirations. NITI Aayog, after consultation with various ministries and leading academicians, institutions, practitioners and industry players, released India’s National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence in June 2018. Through the strategy and subsequent initiatives, the key recommendations in AI are being pursued,” Vardhan added.
Healthcare Industry in India
Healthcare has become one of the largest sectors in India, both in terms of generating revenue and employment. The industry is expected to reach US$ 372 billion by 2022. The market growth is largely driven by growing incomes, health awareness on the larger way, lifestyle diseases and augmenting access to insurance.
Healthcare space involves hospitals, medical devices, outsourcing, clinical trials, telemedicine, medical tourism, health insurance, and medical equipment. The hospital industry is projected to worth US$ 132.84 billion by FY 2022. It’s rising from US$ 61.79 billion in FY 2017, with a growing CAGR of 16-17 percent.