How AI is Transforming Health in Emerging Markets

Across many emerging markets, there is a lack of basic health data due to low adoption of electronic medical records and inefficient data collection. Indeed, too much data is being gathered manually, which is not only costly and time-consuming, but also fails to capture the entire picture.

However, the introduction of Artificial Intelligence (AI) into the medical world offers the opportunity to see health and epidemiological trends with greater precision and revolutionize the way that data is collected and used.

AI helps to gather information about the true burden of disease

mClinica developed SnapRx – a platform that uses mobile phone cameras and artificial intelligence to digitize prescriptions in order to see the type and quantity of medicines that are being dispensed in both public and private pharmacies. This allows ministries of health to monitor local pharmacies, improve supply chain visibility, and to create national data sets that have never existed before.

It is currently unknown how many patients in the Philippines are taking drugs for hypertension, for example. However, it was recently mandated that all pharmacies in the country use a version of SnapRx developed for the Philippines FDA called the Electronic Drug Safety System (eDSS), which will help bring to light the total number of patients being treated for hypertension among other disease areas.

Data collected with AI can be studied by epidemiologists to curtail disease outbreaks

Epidemiologists can study the data gathered by AI platforms, like SnapRx, to assess the magnitude of the burden of different diseases in a country— and even to predict disease outbreaks and to prevent them from spreading in the first place. For instance, if the flu was starting to spread in a given area, data scientists would quickly be able to notice an increase in the number of prescriptions for flu medicine. Those data scientists can then alert health officials to take the necessary public health precautions for a potential flu outbreak.  

In sum in emerging markets, too much money and resources are being spent collecting health data manually, infrequently, and at a great cost. With the help of AI data collection platforms, like SnapRx, we can secure far more information in real time, and at a significantly lower cost. Digitizing health data will also help to uncover national data sets on pharmaceuticals and medicine usage that have never before been recorded, and will assist public health officials in the first line of defense against the spread of diseases.