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PPPs to maximize the AI role for Healthcare in rural areas


The quality of healthcare in rural areas among developing countries is relatively low. According to the International Labor Organization, the global Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR), which is commonly recognized as a general indicator of healthcare quality within certain areas, accounts for 29 deaths per 10,000 live births in rural areas. On the other hand, urban areas represent a comparatively lower rate of 11. Nowadays, emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning offer promising transformative forces to make healthcare more precise, accessible, and economically sustainable. However, critical actions are needed now to secure funding and implement creative ideas for the GREATer healthcare system of tomorrow.


AI, SUSTAINABILITY, AND CHALLENGES IN DEVELOPMENT AI and automation provide operational leverage for healthcare organizations, resulting in enhanced efficiency and overall improved payoffs. These technologies can alter healthcare delivery by advancing the supply and scalability of healthcare professionals. The development of technology can help speed up clinical trial timelines through faster searches for medical codes assigned to patient outcomes and detect early signs of diseases like breast cancer and other conditions. Even drug development cycles are becoming more efficient with the contribution of AI. Nonetheless, to effectively employ the implementation AI and machine learning in rural areas, clinicians require high-quality datasets for the clinical and technical validation of AI models. The lack of such data remains a challenge. Due to the dispersion of medical data across various electronic health records and software platforms, collecting patient information and photos for AI algorithm testing becomes complicated. Additionally, there is a need for more prospective studies and well-defined procedures for AI in healthcare, as the majority of existing research has relied on historical patient medical records and retrospective analyses. EMPOWERING BREAKTHOUGHS IN INNOVATION In rural areas where workforce and medical equipment support are required, the limited capabilities of healthcare organizations highlight the resistance to change and obstruct the seamless digital transformation of healthcare services. Standardizing medical data, increasing the availability of data for testing AI systems, and evaluating the accuracy of AI models can be accomplished through the collaboration between the public and private sectors. Government can take the lead by fostering innovation to further escalate the capability and accountability among machine learning and artificial intelligence, as well as assisting in the systematic sharing of information to drive real progress. To promote sustainable healthcare, they can also incentivize tax policy for businesses to conduct research and development with a balanced focus on long-term and short-term results. By working with healthcare institutions or providing direct support to healthcare innovation, both public and private sectors can address the problem of healthcare funding and elevate access to healthcare services in rural areas. Healthcare providers need to assess their specific contributions or roles in implementing AI in healthcare, aligning their ambitions with their strategic objectives. Moreover, firms should initiate projects to further refine the model, establish use cases that enable scalable AI solutions throughout the system, ensure these solutions deliver both clinical and operational outcomes, and rethink how to attract workforces such as data scientists or data engineers. Developing flexible and agile models to allocate and retain such talent will resonate effective usage of AI and become a key part of these organizations’ strategies. CHINA’S PATH TOWARD A TRANSFORMED FUTURE

China holds a significant data advantage in medical AI research due to its extensive access, allowing its researchers to train AI models on datasets that encompass entire provinces. In essence, this medical AI technology has led to numerous benefits for healthcare in China's rural areas. Funded by the national rural healthcare program, a portable all-in-one diagnostic station that can perform 11 tests, including electrocardiograms, routine urine, and blood pressure, has reportedly been employed in village healthcare settings. This device automatically uploads test results and medical records to an online data analysis system, generating a diagnosis that village health workers can review and use as a reference. Furthermore, several prominent Chinese technology enterprises are investing in AI-powered innovative clinics designed for rural areas. One such example is the AI-powered Chatbots that can interact with patients, offer medical advice, and deliver online training for rural health personnel. Many AI-driven solutions have been created to tackle specific diseases prevalent in rural areas. In addition to the use of AI technology in primary healthcare settings, the case of utilizing a low-cost swallowable endoscopic capsule with AI analytical technologies to replace costly standard cancer screening equipment can serve as a suitable demonstration. In rural regions where stomach cancer is prevailing, this example stands as the promising evidence that showcases the potential of AI in healthcare.


Public and private partnerships play an essential role in enhancing the performance of AI and machine learning models, as well as advancing the adoption of this technology to raise healthcare standards in rural areas. This collaboration can build more resilience and pave the road for sustainable healthcare practices in the future. While the public sector has a responsibility to support initiatives by endorsing funding for AI development and thriving the regulatory framework, the private sector needs to find ways in which they can contribute to this transformation. This entails evaluating their own abilities and attracting skilled workforces who can sharpen the GREATness of AI models in the future.



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