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Artificial Intelligence in healthcare: Interview with Nilesh Chandra

By Angela Scott-Briggs


17 March 2021

Nilesh Chandra, healthcare expert at PA Consulting, discusses the use of AI in healthcare.

Read the full TechBullion article

With the recent news that IBM is looking to sell Watson Health – the company’s interactive, AI platform that can answer human-posed questions in seconds – some think this might be indicative of a wider problem with the use of AI in healthcare. Nilesh Chandra, healthcare expert at PA Consulting, shares more details with us in this exclusive interview with TechBullion.

Please tell us a little more about yourself?

My name is Nilesh Chandra and I am a healthcare expert at PA Consulting. In a formal sense, I engage our healthcare clients and work with them on business transformation and growth strategies. My background, education and training (I have an MBA from Cornell with a focus on business operations, hold a Six Sigma Green Belt, am an accredited Lean expert from the Cardiff Business School and have a certification in Business and Enterprise Architecture for the Henley Business School) allow me to understand the business processes across functional areas. In today’s environment, I specifically help clients build data analytics operations and businesses in healthcare.

What is PA Consulting and who are your services?

PA Consulting is an innovation and transformation consultancy. In the healthcare sector, we work with both private and public healthcare systems in the US, UK and Europe, helping payers, providers, healthcare associations, regulators and governments.

PA Consulting believes in the power of ingenuity to build a positive human future in a technology-driven world. From a healthcare-specific perspective, we work with both private and public healthcare systems all over the world, helping payers, providers, healthcare associations, regulators, and governments. Myself and our team of experts, many of whom have diverse industry backgrounds, couple their deep knowledge with the company’s technological know-how to transform care systems and deliver tangible results. Areas of expertise include digital health, MedTech, workforce planning, care models, and more.

What are the global market size and level of demand for Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare and what challenges is this industry facing?

The market potential and demand for AI applications in healthcare is incredibly strong. This is particularly true since data is currently under-utilized, and so from an implementation perspective, the market has only begun to scratch the surface. For context, according to Dr Toby Cosgrove, former CEO of Cleveland Clinic, healthcare knowledge is doubling every 73-days. What this means is not only the data generated but the way it is thought about is ever-changing. To keep up with the sheer volume, AI is a tool that can deliver users tremendous value.

In what unique ways is PA Consulting responding to COVID-19?

The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed our personal and professional lives. While such change has been difficult, it has also created opportunities. We’ve seen that we can unlock ingenuity to accelerate life-changing innovation, build organizations that evolve with a changing world, positively impact the environment, and improve our ways of working. As we move forward, we can’t go back to the old business as usual. We must continue to harness ingenuity to build a positive human future. A few recent healthcare examples:

  • CHEST – Improving COVID-19 patient care by matching doctors to hospitals.
  • UK Government Ventilator Challenge – With the coronavirus pandemic escalating and the country fast running out of life-saving ventilators, the UK Government asked PA to lead one of the largest mobilizations of innovation, science and engineering since the Second World War. Against all odds, the UK Ventilator Challenge made sure that everyone in the UK who needed a ventilator got one.
  • HealthFirst – Providing millions of New Yorkers with health insurance enrollment information during a global health emergency.

What type of AI tools and applications are required in Healthcare for attacking problems like COVID-19?

The best use of artificial intelligence in healthcare relates to the identification of patterns in data that are not intuitive or obvious. For example, over the past year, we have been constantly surprised by the long-lasting and far-reaching impacts of COVID-19 in patients. Long-haulers have not just dealt with lasting respiratory issues, but neurological, gastrointestinal and inflammatory problems that could not have been predicted. AI is a tool to help unlock these mysteries.

While AI is a tool meant to drive efficiency, human oversight cannot be forgotten, where is the boundary between AI diagnosis and diagnosis from humans?

AI has not yet advanced to where it could be used for diagnosis. Beyond potential capability issues, the biggest questions currently are regulatory. First, the FDA has not approved such tools, and so from that perspective, we still have a hurdle to clear. In addition, in cases of malpractice liability, there are still many questions that must be answered. In the immediate future, AI will likely augment human diagnosis to improve efficiency. These tools will not, however, make clinical decisions. I would project we are still a couple of years away in terms of diagnosis capabilities.

As a Healthcare expert, where do you see the future of AI in healthcare and what is PA Consulting doing to embrace this future?

At PA Consulting we think the most immediate AI opportunity lies with curating, cleansing, and structuring healthcare data to improve operational efficiency, financial performance, and patient outcomes. We assist our clients to think through their data strategy and the technical aspects of leveraging AI to maximize value and insights that can be extracted from the data.

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