The Wuhan Virus or Coronavirus causes deadly pneumonia and kidney failure. What originated in Wuhan, China has now spread to various parts of the world. On 9th Jan, WHO (World Health Organization) issued a public notice notifying the outbreak of the flu in China, that may have originated from the live animals market in Wuhan. So far, nearly 3000 people have contracted the virus and 81 deaths have been recorded from the same. While there have been reported cases of the virus in other parts of the world, no deaths have been reported outside China so far.
BlueDot and how it works
While the announcement by WHO came in 9th Jan, an AI startup from Canada had already sent a word of caution about the outbreak to its customers on 31st December. BlueDot is a health monitoring platform that analyses billions of data available online and crunches this data to assess public health threats. The AI-tool processes natural-language and machine-learning techniques to filter through international news reports, airlines data, and reports of animal-related s outbreaks. Their team of highly trained epidemiologists scan the automated results, and if everything checks out, the company then sends alerts to its clients and customers warning them. The company predicted not just the virus but where it will spread to outside of Wuhan- Bangkok, Seoul, Taipei, and Tokyo, and interestingly BlueDot predicted this spread by being able to accurately track airline data.
According to the company, it “uses big data analytics to track and anticipate the spread of the world’s most dangerous infectious diseases.” Last August it announced an investment round that brought its total funding to about $10 million.
The company has earlier successfully predicted other outbreaks as well, such as the location of the Zika outbreak in South Florida.
AI is the future of healthcare
It’s evident that AI and the Machine Learning techniques will undoubtedly be the future of healthcare and may disrupt the industry for good. According to Frost & Sullivan, AI systems are projected to be a $6 billion dollar industry by 2021. A recent McKinsey study predicted healthcare as one of the top 5 industries with more than 50 use cases that would involve AI, and over $1bn USD already raised in start-up equity.
AI in healthcare will essentially impact the 3 major aspects of healthcare- Patients, Doctors and Administration/Operations. While AI tools and bots will be implemented at every level of a patient’s medical journey, it is the overall impact it will make that truly will disrupt the industry. AI will seamlessly bring together all past records of a patient, along with insights, use that data for diagnoses, in turn for treatment and eventually for maintenance of health.
As the world changes rapidly, these diseases are emerging and spreading at a fast pace. However, with AI tools and various software in place, the increased access to data can be put to good use. The substantial increase in data can be used to generate important insights and in turn act on them thereby spreading news earlier and faster than the disease can spread itself.