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AI in Healthcare on the Rise

April 16, 2020

The Coronavirus outbreak has proven that healthcare institutions can no longer ignore the role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in their daily workflow. AI spending in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries is expected to increase from US$463 million in 2019 to more than US$2 billion over the next 5 years, states global tech market advisory firm, ABI Research.

“Artificial Intelligence is playing a key role in responding to the pandemic,” says Lian Jye Su, Principal Analyst at ABI Research. Several companies, including Alibaba, YITU, Graphen, and Google DeepMind, are already developing AI tools to help detect the virus, diagnose its evolution, track its geographical footprint, project its future, and even predict its potential protein structure to find a vaccine for it.

Aside from viral detection, AI will be adopted in the field of bioinformatics, where the Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) sequence of COVID-19 can be thoroughly analyzed to develop the right antiviral drugs. “Now, no single drug can combat the virus effectively. In order to get ahead of the ever-evolving virus and to save as many lives as possible, new drug discovery, development, and testing processes need to be set up, as the conventional method is no longer suitable,” Su explains. Tools from established companies like Google DeepMind, startups like Graphen, and AI chipsets from vendors like NVIDIA and Intel will help accelerate the speed of drug discovery, development, and testing, allowing pharmaceutical companies and healthcare authorities to combat the pandemic.

Pharmaceutical companies and healthcare authorities will take lessons from the current chaotic situation, and anticipate universal programs and frameworks to better manage pandemic situations, predict the emergence and the spread of viruses, and, most importantly, find a cure for them in a timely fashion. The situation will encourage healthcare agencies, pharmaceutical vendors, and webscale companies to enhance their Research and Development (R&D) investments in AI as a core technology for enabling these initiatives.

Global R&D expenditures for the pharmaceutical industry are estimated to be between US$180 billion and US$195 billion in 2022. AI spending in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries is expected to increase from US$463 million in 2019 to more than US$2 billion by 2025. “The pharmaceutical industry is a significant market that AI hardware and software vendors should target,” Su advises.

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