Driving behaviour change and achieving desired outcomes

New Delhi (IANSlife) This morning, I asked my colleague who is an expert in Artificial intelligence (AI), “Ammar, what is the future of doctors? Do you think AI will replace them?” Ammar thoughtfully responded, “Shailesh, people who use AI will replace people who don’t.”

I couldn’t agree more with this statement. AI is among one of the most impactful and transformational technologies of our time. It is now getting extensively integrated into almost all major domains.

Another friend of mine who works in one of the largest IT product companies tells me that they have an internal dictate to integrate AI into all of their product portfolios. Billions of dollars are being poured into developing AI further. I think it is very safe to say that the shape of AI today is very different from what it will be five years from now.

Despite the game-changing potential that AI offers in terms of speed, accuracy, automation, data analytics, etc., it must be acknowledged that these advancements are not a replacement for human expertise in the healthcare arena today. AI is only as good as the model that trained it. We have been working extensively to develop an AI model which would be able to mimic human expertise for chronic diseases. Today, we have reached a holistic combination of AI and human expertise that can work in a complementary framework to deliver personalized interventions that are trustworthy and consistent in achieving improved healthcare outcomes.

Solving chronic conditions like diabetes requires a very personalised approach. It should not be generalised by asking the person with Diabetes to stop all sweets, fruits, rice, and roti. Such diets are difficult if not impossible to maintain. People generally drop out of all such programmes which offer generic advice.

Connected devices like CGMS, wearable gadgets, blood pressure monitors, and weighing scales coupled with a manual entry for data into an app, lab reports, and camera vision provide rich insights into a person’s health makeup. AI can be used effectively to process massive data volumes, identify patterns, and generate actionable insights as well as complete therapy for individuals. For instance, while creating a personalized nutrition plan, experts can feed data gathered by observing the glycaemic value of meals consumed by an individual, and inputs related to sleep, pulse and heart rate, etc., gathered over several weeks. AI algorithms can analyse the data, and segregate meals which cause a high glycemic response in the individual and these foods can then be eliminated from the person’s diet.

However, behaviour change cannot be achieved merely through advice or insights. These personalized action plans need to be reviewed by healthcare professionals for accuracy and context. They need to be tweaked for conditions which have not yet been factored into the training model. Having worked with over 20,000 patients, we have realised the importance of a healthcare professional in achieving outcomes.

The role of the healthcare professional

Behaviour change involves breaking some undesirable habits and building new ones. To bring about effective behavioural changes, mere recommendations are not enough. It is important to establish an empathetic and trust-based rapport with the patients. Healthcare professionals can thus deeply understand the unique needs, circumstances, and compulsions of individuals. They use their emotional intelligence to carve compassionate behavioural change programmes that address individual concerns. Instead of spending time creating therapy, reports etc., they can now utilize their time more efficiently by working with the patient. Such a synergetic approach is a powerful combination that can help in the universal improvement of healthcare outcomes by making behavioural change more convenient and empowering.

The future of behavioural change interventions

AI technology is evolving rapidly with greater capabilities and accuracy being added with each new update. In such a scenario, this merger of AI and human intelligence can be a potent combination to drive behavioural change in individuals as well as entire communities. This digitally-driven therapeutic process can be transformative in early detection and intervention for individuals at risk, and facilitate timely as well as personalized care programmes. Devices such as wearable bands, monitors, and smartphone applications can constantly engage individuals alongside monitoring their performance to deliver constant support and improvement tips. It is this AI-driven human-delivered care framework that is going to shape the future of healthcare globally!

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