AI, short for Artificial Intelligence, has received wide support regarding the potential it holds in easing processes in businesses, manufacturing, and technology. Machine learning has been widely touted as having the potential to take over supply chain management. One such arena that requires the urgent usage of supply chain management is the hospital sector.
When covid-19 began to spread across the world into the pandemic, it is now, and the health sector started to look into means by which they could accurately predict the number of patients that would need hospitalization. This also involved calculating the number of beds, ventilators, ICU units, and protective equipment or PPE kits for the staff.
Healthcare is an arena that is more often than not woefully underfunded, and this was thrown into stark relief when the pandemic struck. The lack of oxygen cylinders, life-saving medicines, beds, and space became obvious with how quickly hospitals were overwhelmed with sick patients and started recommending that patients stay at home until the symptoms became unbearable.
The Even worse hit was the staff. With the lack of protective gear, many doctors, nurses, and the hospital staff was exposed to and thus lost their lives to the Coronavirus. The hellish images have emblazoned themselves into the public’s eye, and there have been widespread calls for improvement in funding and research to improve healthcare and its supply chain management better.
Not just supply chains need AI. Drug development has also been in the fall, and AI might be needed to improve drug development and better diagnose patients. This article discusses some of the areas that AI can help improve in the healthcare sector.
Areas that can use AI
The healthcare industry has been long in need of innovation. While there have been many discussions on the returns on investment in AI, what’s missing is a substantive discussion on the implications of using AI, such as making sure it delivers the results it promises and how governments and hospital boards will need to manage their data well. There are also fewer conversations regarding the help that AI can give for developing a better and stronger supply chain, whether it’s drugs, PPE kits, oxygen tanks, or any other life-saving product.
We need to start seeing avenues that AI can play a huge role in improving, some of which have been discussed below:
• Supply continuity
What the pandemic has thrown into stark relief is how woefully underfunded and unprepared the supply chain management in the healthcare sector is. With rapid disruptions to supply continuity, items that were desperately needed were often sent off to the wrong areas or arrived too late.
In a natural disaster or a pandemic like the present situation, this can bring even more heartbreak and grave consequences for the patients and injured folk. AI can be employed to take over the management of supplies by acting as a PPE estimator, oxygen tank predictor, ordering medicines, IV bags, and beds when and where needed. The algorithm can quickly adapt to the pressing needs and remodel itself to send supplies to areas that need it the most.
Manufacturers can employ AI to gather data from the complex webs of the supply chains and better predict disruptions and prepare courses of alternative action. Potential shortages can be stocked up or informed ahead of time, saving a lot more lives.
• Disease prediction
The most exciting and promising aspect of using AI is predictive analysis. When considering the data of a population, inputting factors such as clinical, social, and behavioural factors, the machine learning algorithm can predict the onset of illness in patients. Maybe this might not be accurate for individual patients. Still, for a population at large, it reveals any predispositions towards sickness or factors that can thus be influenced to ensure the longevity of life.
Provided it is managed well by an accountable team of caregivers or an organization, it can also alert suppliers and manufacturers towards demands that need to be met for medicines and other healthcare equipment. Distributors can focus on providing the area with the help it needs, ensuring that the patients are not left adrift.
Artificial Intelligence has started to become a growing presence in the supply chain management of the healthcare sector. Restructuring and optimizing supply chains to meet the needs of the future better has become the top priority on the agenda of healthcare manufacturers, producers, and distributors. One of the best ways to do this is to increase efficiency and decrease time wasted on manual processes by employing AI in supply chain management. If successfully implemented, the AI algorithm will learn to predict natural disasters and pandemics, leaving us better prepared to anticipate such events and face them with minimal loss of lives.