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Healthcare Leader: Dr Subhrojyoti Bhowmick

Clinical Director, Academics and Research,Peerless Hospital

Looking back on the eve of December 31, 2019, I remember how excited we were to welcome a new decade of hope and prosperity, where we had no clue of the unprecedented crisis we have to face in 2020 – how it holds the capability to have changed all of our lives forever. 2020 has taught us many lessons and given us many wake up calls. Millions of people around the world have died during the pandemic. Millions in India alone have lost their jobs. Though China was struggling with this deadly virus since the end of 2019 not all of their struggling moments were clear to us at the time.

China’s decision to shut down cities of millions of people in early January was staggering, however to most Indians; this new coronavirus 2019 (COVID19) remained a distant nightmare, not something that would demand our version of a lockdown. However, amid the virus spreading news from China, France and Italy, the coronavirus outbreak was declared a pandemic on March 11, 2019, by the World Health Organization (WHO) and many of us are already feeling nostalgic for our lives by the time it went global. Slowly yet steadily we were into this biggest crisis of humankind ever thought of.Every person around the globe has had their taste of fear, anxiety, and uncertainty to face from March 2020. All the blessings we enjoyed and have taken for granted since our childhood have suddenly started taking a toll.

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Many families are infected in front of our eyes. Some are moving on with caution and care, however, those who are reckless are endangering their lives as well as others. In the middle of all this uncertainty and losing lives, all we are left with is hope. People were looking with all their hopes for frontline warriors. Praying day and night to receive the “magic vaccine” from the healthcare industry.2020 made us focus on infection control practices like hand washing and wearing masks as the way of life to beat the virus. Never have neither the healthcare professionals nor the common people have fully complied with these infection control practices. This year the major emphasis was on vaccine clinical trials and media coverage of phases of clinical trials made these topics a household story.

The year saw telemedicine practice guidelines come into existence in India and teleconsultation for patients is here to stay even in absence of the pandemic. On the same line, Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven technology enhancement is happening in the field of radio-diagnosis and laboratory medicine in much higher healthcare centres of the country. AI is not only assisting children to learn better by enlisting tailored teaching assistants but also by helping with smarter energy consuming like the US and the UK AI is analysing and uncovering patterns in huge swathes of medical data and this makes it the perfect tool for modelling and tracking COVID19 outcomes. AI utilises deep learning models, which has also been deployed to support drug discovery that can combat the virus.Over this year, AI has been continuously used to solve some of healthcare’s most pressing issues – from reporting the power of medical records, to relieving doctors and nurses from contact-tasks, to enhancing surgical precision to a great extent, yet much more is yet to come in the next few years.

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