Health informatics

Kiran Raju, Health News, ET HealthWorld

Shahid Akhter, editor, ETHealthworld spoke to Kiran Raju, Founder and CEO, Grene Robotics, to know more about the advent of robots in healthcare and how responsive healthcare is taking shape.

Robots in Healthcare
I think today the mix of autonomy and robots is going to change every industry, and Covid has accelerated that, I would say, by 7 – 8 years. Because of this acceleration, now suddenly we are forced to think about autonomy, we are forced to think about robots. We are forced to look at efficiency as a parameter.

So now when we apply this, I mean, we can talk about every industry. But I think when we apply this in the healthcare industry, we have to understand, typically, you take a hospital. It runs on the resources that are working in the hospital and the processes that make a patient better. So if every process in a hospital has a certain time duration to it, now, if we can do something better, there are something that can take five minutes. If we can do it in one minute, something that takes over a day, can we do it in five minutes? And if a robot is able to do that and be more precise, then it has immediate applicability in various of these processes. So I think that’s at a high level. Now, let us take a simple example of a patient coming into a hospital.

If I walk into a hospital, I would be greeted. I would have to first stand in queue. So this itself solves the base principle. The same thing – If I had a digital assistant, probably it can answer even 100 visitors at the same time, whereas a human being can only do one at a time. Hence the queue. So that I think, is those subtle areas of efficiency where digital and even humanoids are going to play a role in the future.

Healthcare monitoring in future
I think one of the key things we will see, maybe, in the next few years and Apple has already started this journey is the ability for AI to touch you in a healthcare standpoint. And I think one of the key elements that we are forgetting is the most important computer or or how a doctor would come to you is in your pocket, which is your smartphone. So the fact that this is in your pocket and it has the power to connect to the Internet, it has battery power to last one or 2 days, and it has the ability to sense pretty much more than any other. I would say the smartphone is really today the biggest sensor in such a small space available. So it has today rather LiDAR sensor. It has your heartbeat sensor. And with that, combined with a little bit of wearable tech, you’re automatically continuously being monitored. So I think the I-watch does a lot of that today. It monitors everything about you.

So this is what I would expect coming into large scale deployment where your health is continuously monitored. It is no more monitored only when you are in the ICU or only when you’re in the hospital. So as long as you can monitor your health continuously, you are free to step out of the hospitals. So I would say in the future, a lot of the services that a hospital is providing will come directly to your smartphone and through the smartphone to you. So that way, you are not compelled to go to a medical facility unless you’re trying to buy medicine, which also, I would say, is going to take the Swiggy model. I think today we can very clearly say that the amount of time we are going to avoid a visit to medical store is going to reduce. And once drone deliveries or something of that sort comes into play, you can imagine it’s reduced to minutes. So this is what we are continuously solving at Grene Robotics, we are saying that how can I reduce this time – the time of commute to the hospital, time of sitting in the hospital, time of explaining to the doctor and then getting a medicine or a prescription, whereas the system, you can actually be continuously monitored and you can get that prescription immediately from a medical standpoint.

I mean, I understand the Privacy issues this raises, but I don’t think my 70 year old grand dad cares about that about Privacy issues today. Maybe for younger adults like myself, but somebody who really needs to be monitored, telemedicine is going to take leaps and bounds going forward.

Responsive Healthcare
So I think some of the what we like, I said, we’re looking at responsive healthcare. So responsive health care is when I request for something that it is answered immediately. And within minutes, I get an answer. We are looking at such mass scale implementations at entire citywide responsive healthcare. Anybody who’s part of the city, who’s paying taxes can actually request for healthcare services and it can come directly through their smartphone.

So that’s how I would say you look at this industry.

Robots: Healthcare
I think the healthcare infrastructure today, I would say there are enough hospitals, there are enough hospital beds, there are enough facilities, but how about the connection between them ? We have to understand that me, as an employee of Grene Robotics, I have a different health plan. Me, personally, I have a different health plan and insurance. Apart from that, me being on board of XYZ Company, I have an insurance plan. Me being part of American Express have an insurance plan. So how do we bring all these together? How do we bring that to one healthcare ID?

And how do I raise my problem with the government to use government resources or private resources? Right. So we are building this responsive healthcare system. And we are doing pilot projects on this. I think this is going to enable remote healthcare in the future. I think one thing we can assume very clearly is that how easy Swiggy is. That’s how easy healthcare will be in the coming future.

Robots in India & Abroad
So what all robots we see? Why are there more robots abroad than they are in India?
I think this is a very interesting question. I always have a lot of people tell me like, no, Indians are not cool enough to have robots. Like, it’s not a matter of cool, it’s a matter of cost.

Does it make sense to have robots? So India is a place where the population is very high, you have a lot of people to employ. So robots will only come in places which are beyond human capability, where a human being cannot do something like, a human being cannot be in a hot furnace changing a bolt. So that’s where robots will come in. But otherwise there are human beings to actually do it and its fair that human beings should do this because when we come as Robots As A Service, we have to understand that we are competing with humans to bring robots into the workforce and if the human man-hour is cheaper there the why should we not use it. We should use humans. Robot is only when human man-hour has exceeded that of a robot, is where the challenge is.

Today, think of Solar Power 15 years back. We would say 15 rs a unit and everybody made their business plans expecting 15 rs a unit and today it is at 2rs a unit or less than 2rs a unit. So that’s why you have to think about Robots because as time goes on, they will become cheaper and cheaper and eventually they will somewhere cross the barrier. If I want to mop the lobby of my hotel floor, the robot will do it for 5,000 rs a month whereas if I have to hire a human being, it takes 10,000rs a month. That is where the cross over will happen and Robots as a service will come to play.

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