24 Oct Emerging Markets: Healthcare Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Four of the worlds seven billion people live in emerging markets. That’s a lot of people who need access to quality, affordable healthcare to help them get or stay healthy. Artificial Intelligence (AI)-enabled technologies have a huge untapped potential to make an impact in emerging economies as healthcare needs change in emerging markets.
Healthcare AI startups across North America and developed nations see the potential of improved performance in healthcare systems by implementing AI technologies. However, there is a significant untapped potential in thinking of emerging markets such as India and the Middle East as significant users of healthcare-specific applications.
Many business leaders have taken too narrow a view of the potential for the AI marketplace. To be leaders in tech and to maximize the potential of healthcare AI, entrepreneurs and business leaders need to see how AI-enabled technology will have a place in emerging markets.
It’s no challenge that AI has the potential to address long term health challenges in emerging markets. According to a report published by Allied Market Research, the global AI healthcare market is estimated to reach a value of $22,790 million by 2023.
AI-enabled technology adoption in emerging markets such as India and the Middle East may yield higher results than solely focusing on the North American market. Some markets such as South Korea may be more open to using autonomous devices and robots. For example, in 2016, South Korea sold more than 41,000 robots, the second highest amount of robots sold in any country. With faster adoption rates, it may be easier to penetrate the market with a public that is willing to embrace AI-enabled technologies in healthcare.
Healthcare in emerging markets
Emerging markets are seeing aging populations, a rapidly expanding middle class, and growing incomes. With increasingly sedentary lifestyles, people living in emerging economies are also plagued by chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease. With the increasing demands on healthcare in emerging markets, there is great potential for people to embrace AI-enabled healthcare technologies.
Rise in Chronic Disease
Chronic diseases such as diabetes are rising in emerging economies. For example, the International Diabetes Federation forecasts that the number of Indian adults with diabetes will rise by 63% since 2014, to 109 million people, by 2035.
Several AI-enabled technologies being developed today work to help prevent or manage chronic diseases such as diabetes. As chronic diseases rapidly increase in emerging markets, delivering cost-effective AI solutions is a great opportunity to help bring affordable and quality technologies to the people that need it most.
Before medicines can be sold, countries like the U.S. have strict regulations that need to be met before medications can enter the market. In developing nations, regulations can vary or develop at different rates. For example, in some emerging economies, there may be 50 companies producing medicines with the same molecule with varying levels of quality. As a result, patients look for trusted companies and brands that deliver consistent quality.
Because of weaknesses in regulation and healthcare infrastructure in developing economies, entrepreneurs and businesses face fewer constraints when it comes to innovation or technology adoption. They may be able to pass Western healthcare models and find new solutions with the implementation of AI-enabled technologies.
People in emerging markets may have more choice when it comes to making decisions about their healthcare. As the middle class grows, more people will be empowered to make informed choices about their healthcare options. Three out of four households in China will be considered middle class by 2022. As the middle class increases, people will be willing to pay a small premium for quality AI-enabled technologies if it means that it will provide quality healthcare.
Patient choice will be very important as people afford to choose health options that will likely provide the best outcomes for them. They will have the freedom to choose health options that they can trust and that provide value. If an AI-enabled application provides value in the form of user-friendliness, better packaging, ongoing support, and added convenience, while remaining affordable, people will be likely to choose that application.
Rising GDP growth in emerging economies has big implications for healthcare. Rising GDP growth comes with an impact on the consumer’s spending power, which in turn, has an impact on the growth of the healthcare sector.
Additional opportunities include rising government enthusiasm for innovation in emerging markets such as India and the fact that people in developing economies have embraced smartphones and internet connectivity which may make it easier to implement AI solutions.
As AI-enabled technologies will help grant better access to effective and quality healthcare at significantly lower costs, big opportunities exist for existing healthcare AI providers and entrepreneurs to innovate with the emerging market in mind.
Flexibility is crucial for healthcare companies that are looking to operate in emerging markets. In order to provide solutions that meet the needs of the people, a local approach may be needed. Having an insight-driven approach to meet the needs of patients, doctors, and pharmacists can help provide a better match with available and upcoming AI-enabled healthcare applications and technologies.
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