Artificial Intelligence for Healthcare Insights from India

This paper examines the opportunities and risks of using AI in healthcare, with a particular focus on India.


  • AI, the use of coded computer software routines with specific instructions to perform tasks for which a human brain is considered necessary, is providing the healthcare sector with new advances that are being hailed as game changers.
  • The risk and challenges of integrating AI into healthcare are closely related to the use
    of the data needed to feed AI systems. Issues around quality, safety, governance, privacy, consent and ownership must all be properly addressed. A lack of explainability, as it is almost impossible to understand how AI arrived at a specific decision, also points to a potential lack of trust in AI systems.
  • India provides a case study of how a country is actively promoting the use of AI to address healthcare needs. However, the deployment of AI in India is still at a very nascent stage, particularly for clinical interventions.
  • The challenge of delivering quality healthcare at scale presents a strong case for developing AI-based solutions for healthcare in India. However, a complex health landscape involving numerous stakeholders, competing priorities, entrenched incentive systems and institutional cultures give rise to a range of challenges and risks across the stages of development, adoption and deployment.
  • The quality of digital infrastructure, affordability, and variable capacity among states and medical professionals are together likely to result in adoption of AI applications primarily by India’s well-established private hospitals. This in turn could result in new inequities in access to quality healthcare.
  • The effectiveness of AI systems will depend on accurate problem identification and solution matching. Currently, there is a risk that solutions are being technology-led rather than problem-led, and as a result are often blind to particular contextual needs or constraints.


AI & Society


Claire Muñoz Parry

Claire works on a range of projects relating to global health security, universal health coverage and healthy societies, and has a particular interest in developing conferences and other high-level events to stimulate dialogue among experts and stakeholders.

Urvashi Aneja

Urvashi Aneja is Founding Director of Tandem Research. Her work examines the ways in which digital technologies are restructuring political, economic, and social relations in India, and the global south. She has written extensively on the ethics and governance of artificial intelligence, labor wellbeing and rights in a gig economy, and the politics of international aid and civil society networks. Urvashi is also Associate Fellow at Chatham House and has served on government committees on artificial intelligence and frontier technologies. She has a PhD from the Department of Politics & International Relations, University of Oxford. Previously, she was Associate Professor of International Relations at the OP Jindal Global University and Research Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation.


Jun 9, 2020

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