Health / Pharma

Why investors are enamored by AI-based healthcare startups

There’s no such thing as enough innovation, definitely not in the turf of healthcare.  There is always a way to make healthcare delivery work faster, make patients’ lives easier and make a doctor’s job more efficient. That is why there’s always a place for a great idea, and innovative entrepreneurs wanting to improve lives with technology will always find an investor.

Yes, investors are positively enamored by AI-based healthcare startups.  CB Insights reported that AI startups have raised a massive$ 4.3 billion in funding since 2013, becoming the top industry investors are putting their money on. Another report by Signify Research reported that companies developing machine learning solutions for medical image analysis secured $522 million in funding in just the first half of 2018. Early reports coming in indicate that nearly 80 new healthcare AI startups raised their first round of equity in 2018.

As you may have noticed, interest in healthcare is soaring. When honchos like Apple CEO Tim Cook said that the healthcare market makes the Smartphone market look small, you know just where the money’s at. No wonder Apple has made massive investments in developing a special Apple Watch with ECG, as well as its signature HealthKit, CareKit, and ResearchKit. It also acquired the personal health data platform Gliimpse for $200 million in 2016.

With such enormous amounts of cash flow pouring into AI startups, investors are obviously seeing gold in the healthcare industry. And why wouldn’t they? There are plenty of reasons why artificial intelligence will see large scale adoption by hospitals, doctors, patients, care providers, big pharma, insurance companies and all other sects associated with the healthcare industry far and wide. That’s a very large target market and the social impact as well as revenue is more than promising.

AI and big data can dramatically improve healthcare services and reduce costs

A report from The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) says that AI can help save up to 10% of the total annual operating costs of the NHS in the UK. For those who like hard numbers, that’s about 12.5 Billion Great British Pounds or 16.3 Billion USD every year.

The real-world impact of that statement is phenomenal. Doctors could spend less time doing medical records and other paperwork, and spend that time treating patients. Nurses and paramedics could find patient info faster and provide better care.

One of the biggest costs the healthcare industry faces comes from the administrative burden. Going by a Consumer Union report, Americans spend an average of $9,700 on healthcare annually. An estimated $720 of that amount goes towards administration costs like paperwork and billing errors. To augment this finding, take a look at a February 2018 JAMA study saying that processing billing for an average primary care visit takes 13 minutes, incurring a $20 cost to the healthcare system. And this cost shoots up when it comes to the billing and paperwork required for an inpatient surgical procedure, taking 100 minutes and costing $210.

Artificial Intelligence can tackle this administrative burden effectively by completing these mundane and repetitive tasks in a matter of minutes, and at a fraction of the cost, while dramatically increasing accuracy. It can eliminate losses incurred due to billing errors and other mistakes.

AI combined with human skill can increase accuracy and improve treatment

Advanced artificial systems could take on challenging tasks like diagnostic image recognition. This means that AI could help pathologists, diagnosticians and doctors discover the problems sooner and treat them faster. Technology built to handle such advanced skills can revolutionize healthcare operations, allowing doctors to treat more patients with their time, ensure better care and facilitate faster results.

This might seem far-fetched to the uninitiated, but really, AI, big data and machine learning can be used to create solutions that can diagnose grave medical conditions as effectively, if not better, than humans. One of the most remarkable examples of this is the program developed at Beth Israel, by Andrew Beck, Director of Bioinformatics at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Cancer Research Institute, and his team. They built an ingenious AI system that could detect cancer cells with 92% accuracy, only 4% less than the accuracy rate for humans. When the AI system and human skill were combined, the accuracy rate rose to 99.5%.

With accuracy rates going up like this and the time took coming down, the future of diagnostics could be in for a radical improvement, thanks to AI.

Medical data is exploding and AI can transform it into breakthrough insights

“The cure for cancer is data – mountains of data”, screams the headline of a Wired article written by Mark Warren, appearing in a special edition of the magazine guest-edited by Barack Obama.

The medical details presented in the article are immaculate and will make you a believer when we say that data can truly unearth cures thus far unknown. Identifying patterns in cancerous cell progressions, genome mapping, gene sequencing and other advanced bio-technologies with the help of big data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning will lead us into a new future of medical science that has some convincing answers to difficult questions.

Consumer-facing healthcare tech is taking off like a rocket

Healthcare apps, wearable tech, tiny sensors on medical equipment like inhalers, smart pillboxes, medication adherence monitoring devices and a bouquet of other hi-tech solutions to help consumers take better control of their health and better manage any diseases. The consumption of this tech is only growing as more and more people become aware and sensitized towards health.

Coming back to investors…

What all of the above evidence indicates is that the global consumption of health-tech is on a phenomenal rise and investors clearly see the revenue potential of it. That is why generous bestowing of funds on AI startups in healthcare sounds like a great idea to the wise investors. Adding to the equation is the massive possibility of social impact. Everybody needs healthcare costs to go down, innovative solutions to go up, better drugs to be developed and incurable illnesses cured. An investment that will lead to better healthcare has a personal value to every investor out there.

So, the moral of the story is that a good AI platform to improve healthcare will always attract investors, and if you have a great idea, now is a great time to go for it.

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