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Artificial intelligence: breathing new life into the healthcare industry and marketing

Artificial Intelligence: Breathing new life into the Healthcare Industry and Marketing


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Dr. Mallika Shetty, Head of the Department of Management Studies (UG)(BMS)

St. Francis College for Women, Hyderabad

Ms. Nikita Aleti

BMS III, Department of Management Studies

St. Francis College for Women, Hyderabad

January 2019


The implementation of Artificial Intelligence has disrupted the healthcare industry. One can chat with an AI-powered chatbot for medical diagnosis as against waiting for days for a 5 minutes doctor’s appointment. At a larger scale, AI is being used extensively in pathology, neurology and cardiology to detect and treat diseases at an early stage. Personalised healthcare, another significant milestone in the healthcare industry, is soon predicted to become a reality with AI’s backing. The paper also discusses the role Marketing plays in healthcare. Various applications of AI within the healthcare industry and marketing are discussed. The paper concludes by discussing the future predictions for the healthcare industry and marketing.

Keywords: Artificial Intelligence, Healthcare Industry, Marketing, Healthcare Marketing, E-Healthcare, Segmentation, Targeting, Positioning.


The world is moving past what is known as the ‘Information Age’. It is welcoming what some may call as the ‘Automation’ age, some the ‘Experience’ age and others the ‘Maker’ age. Whichever label one may identify it with, the progression of the human race towards an interconnected world is not something one would debate against. The world is becoming more and more of a Global Village day-by-day, rather minute-by-minute, in this accelerated era; which is our new reality.

Over the years, developments in the technology space have skyrocketed. The human race is now witnessing, experiencing and dealing with technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, and the Internet of Things to name a few. The purpose of technology has always, more or less, been to support the operations and growth of other industries. If one flips the angle of perspective, one would notice that advancement in technology is excessively sought after with the sole aim of enabling advancement in other sectors. Thus, like all the previous technologies which were created to better the operations of various industries in the past, new developments in the field have been provoking profound effects across various other fields and industries globally.

Healthcare industry is one such industry undergoing immense progress due to its integration with Artificial Intelligence. Statistically, a CAGR of 40% is predicted for the healthcare AI market by 2021 along with a 50% reduction in treatment costs. (Frost & Sullivan, 2018) Understandably, AI is the predominant element behind the substantial growth rate of 40%. So, what exactly is Artificial Intelligence? Is it “a technology mimicking human beings”? “An artificial imitation of human cognitive functions”? “A problem-solving tool”? When one tries to box the definition of AI, one cannot fully understand what AI can do. By calling it a problem-solving tool, one would be missing out on AI’s capability of performing predictions. To call AI “A system programmed to perform any required function with minimal human involvement” would be ideal as this definition does not deprive AI of its flexibility in terms of performance and application. Artificial Intelligence has remained the buzz word for years now. Every time it’s in the news for something new, the world says, “Woah! AI could do that?”. This can be attributed to AI’s flexibility in terms of application which spurs creativity and innovation.

Another field that has been integrated with AI in recent times is Marketing. Various divisions like market research, market analytics, sales activities, and promotional activities are now implementing AI technology for efficiency.

With time, AI will continue to gain perpetual relevance in the healthcare industry and marketing by seamlessly integrating itself. It will help companies survive competition while spurring the growth of the industry. The healthcare industry and the field of marketing will witness tremendous shifts in their functionalities and capabilities by virtue of their inevitable integration with Artificial Intelligence.

This research paper intends to further analyse some of the key areas of relevance as stated below.


1. To understand the role of AI in the Healthcare Industry.

2. To analyse AI’s influence on Healthcare Marketing.

3. To briefly understand the future of Healthcare Industry and Marketing.


This research work encapsulates primary and secondary data. Industry insights were gathered through the form of in-depth interviews. Dr. Ranadheer Kumar – Strategy Consultant at Apollo Hospitals, Ms. Kainat Panjwani – Assistant Professor in Pharmacotherapeutics, and Mr. Mohammad Mukram – Marketing Manager at Lifetime Wellness Rx International Ltd. were interviewed. Journals, books, web posts and blogs were sourced as a form of secondary data. Infographics – Fig. 1, Fig. 2, Fig. 3, and Fig. 4 – have been designed by the authors based on secondary data sources.


By virtue of increasing availability of data, AI is able to transform the healthcare industry with advanced analytics. Cancer, cardiology, and neurology are the most prominent areas of medicine in which AI is being implemented extensively. (Fei Jiang et al., 2017) Owing to the availability of large datasets and AI’s ability to make good use of the same, an immense change in the methods of patient treatment is predicted. (Sumi, 2018) AI is an effective tool for Marketing and its prominence is increasing in the area of market research. (Greg, 2018) Marketing plays an irreplaceable role in the financial survival of healthcare organisations in the present competitive economy. With an increase in patients’ involvement and escalating healthcare costs, physicians and healthcare organisations are forced to implement marketing strategies to increase customer retention and loyalty. (Christopher and Richard 2001) Health and Marketing are gaining a firm ground as a new research field. The number of papers on Health and Marketing submitted to marketing journals has been increasing rapidly over the last five years. Mainstream marketing conferences feature special sessions on health marketing. (Stefan, 2008)

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Owing the exploding popularity growth of AI to its cost and quality advantages, the health AI market is projected to grow more than 10×2 by 2021. (Accenture) People commonly associate the healthcare industry with ‘hospitals’, overlooking nursing homes, hospices, physician practices, managed care organizations, rehabilitation centres, and other healthcare organisations. AI is not exclusively influencing ‘hospitals’, but the entire healthcare ecosystem by seeping into each one of the mentioned types of players in the industry. In view of the fact of AI’s sophisticated performance and ability to strengthen efficiency, there is an increase in the implementation of it within the healthcare ecosystem. (PwC)

All this literature advocating that AI has a positive influence in healthcare, leaves one asking ‘how is AI doing this?’ To understand ‘how’ AI is revolutionising the healthcare industry, one should understand ‘what’ it is revolutionising. Therefore, the obvious question – “What do doctors do?”

Fig. 1

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Recent developments in AI-healthcare:

Previously, the trial and error method was the norm in the healthcare industry to study the effects of a drug. However, with Reverse Engineering & Forward Simulation (REFS) offered by GNS Healthcare, a patient’s response to drug treatments can be forecasted by considering factors which influence the effects. The software refers to the database to find information and patterns in genomics and genetics found in medical claims, lab results, and electronic health records, among others. By understanding disease pathways better, new treatments can be devised. (GNS Healthcare)

The project, launched by Insilico Medicine, employs generative adversarial networks (GAN), a branch of AI, along with reinforcement learning algorithms to discover a disease’s biological origin. This AI method is implemented in areas of oncology, ageing, dermatology and, fibrosis. (Ayn, 2018)

Fig. 2

AI is being used to identify what script a physician writes, which physician has the highest potential number of patients and even which physician is a priority to see this week. With every contact, direct or indirect, patients have with an organisation, opportunities arise to understand customers in a holistic way.

Rare diseases are those which affect fewer than 1 in 2000. Majority of the 7000+ rare diseases, many of which are from childhood, are not curable.

· AI makes more use of existing data, which is impossible for humans to process effectively, to target therapies for rare diseases with faster speed than ever before. If it takes a year for an average researcher to read 270 articles, AI can scan 50 million in minutes.

· Implementing AI for identifying patients for clinical trials, automating data collection and compilation of the Clinical Study Reports reduces the time for completing each CSR by 4-6 weeks and internal resource utilization costs by around 250 hours. (Dr. Andree 2018)


Preconceived notions don’t allow the human brain to view data as it exists. Moreover, a human brain functions within a set of limitations which result in decreased efficiency. At this point, Artificial Intelligence and Marketing fit like a puzzle. Primarily, AI does a better job than a human by saving time and secondly, it performs without bias. This means that by utilizing AI, marketers can make use of a more accurate representation of information.

While 51% of marketers have already begun using AI, 27% intend to in the year 2019. AI has the highest expected growth amongst emerging technologies which marketers are adopting. (Adext, 2018) Interestingly, AI is considered the most disruptive technology compared to other technologies even in the healthcare industry. This disruption profoundly affects how marketing functions within the industry as well. (Brian, 2017)

Due to the prevailing conditions in the economy with rising insurance premiums and increasing medical expenses, patients are seeking lesser healthcare services. (Emma) They are highly watchful of their healthcare choices. (Carl, 2012) Furthermore, the proliferation of new organisations makes survival tougher in this tightened market. Therefore, to earn patient satisfaction and loyalty, and to remain competitive, healthcare organisations should implement marketing processes at the core of their operations.[image: ]

Segmentation, Targeting and Position in Healthcare

Segmentation – In the healthcare industry, organisations need to be consumer driven for survival. Priori and post hoc are two methods of segmentation; while the former is structured before collecting data, the latter gains a structure from the data collected based on similarities in responses. (John, 2003) By integrating AI within post hoc method, the process of discovering patterns within responses to create homogenous groups speeds up. These groups can be based on geographic, demographic, attitudinal, product usage, decision process, or needs differences. Choosing a basis of segmentation, or merging two or more, is at a marketer’s discretion. Older age group of patients as a segment offer new market opportunities but need-based segmentation has been picking up importance lately, to discover micro-segments. (Rizal, 2003) Organisations selling generic medicines should be mindful of the disparities in awareness and usage habits of the same in urban and rural areas. (Kuberudu, 2013) This is an example of geographic and product usage segmentation. By implementing AI, it is possible to map the journey of each customer’s segment movement. Micro-segments and future migration from one segment to another can be predicted. Micro-segmentation helps organisations provide personalised care to patients. (Philip, 2018)

Targeting – Market research helps organisations understand which segments they want to serve. Application of data mining techniques on existing data about each segment will give them deep insights. By integrating AI with these techniques, automation of routine tasks is possible and marketers can benefit from efficient real-time analysis of customers. AI digs new information by asking intelligent questions as a response to the responses received to previous questions. (Amanda, 2017) The purpose of implementing AI in market research is to ensure efficiency, effectiveness, and enhanced results. (Absolutdata, 2017)

Positioning – Increasing regulations, mergers and acquisitions, and the proliferation of new products and brands are a few reasons why healthcare organisations need to differentiate themselves from other players. Today, the positioning of a healthcare brand determines its success. AI assists marketers to analyze the market’s intricacies and potential, discovering loopholes and helping them strategize accordingly. It can also assess competitors’ positions in the market and their potential future strategies. By understanding market needs, brand strengths, and competitors’ weaknesses and possible actions, marketers can design strategies that drive results. (Mitch Duckler)

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There was a time when advertising took organisations to the market, but with AI, potential customers are drawn towards the advertisements based on their actions online. Digital advertising has adopted AI completely; it can analyse users based on factors like their demographics and interests, and identify the most suitable audience for the brand.

Active patients have begun reading health based journals and blogs to keep themselves updated. A lot of healthcare organisations are creating content online to capitalise on this opportunity and increase brand awareness. An AI-based software can write reports and news based on data and information, saving the organisation time and resources. AI also attracts readers, increasing traffic on websites. Organisations create online communities for their patients to maintain customer engagement and loyalty.

[image: ]Fig. 3


Dr. Ranadheer Kumar, Strategy Consultant at Apollo Hospitals –

Patient Body Analysis, an AI-powered tool, is a testing procedure which understands a patient’s body thoroughly, identifying what medicine and which level of dosage would be ideal making personalised medicine a reality. By implementing AI, the Apollo Life Studio, a medical gym, focuses on improving health holistically at an individual level by making personalised diet and exercise plans. ‘Ask Apollo’ is an AI-powered application which allows patients to book appointments or have an online doctor consultation. This option works brilliantly for those with busy schedules or those who frequently travel. A 24/7 access to professional help reduces the risks that come with self-medication. Internal market research identifies the most selling products along with those which are receiving positive feedback. Data about each drug and its effect on customers is also identified. AI discovers patterns in this data, converting it into useful information for both Apollo Pharmacy and Apollo Hospitals. The pharmacy is able to manage its inventory more efficiently by understanding the demand for products. Doctors are equipped with real-time knowledge of drugs’ effects on patients and are able to prescribe the best medicine to their patients.

Ms. Kainat Panjwani, Assistant Professor in Pharmacotherapeutics –

Ideally, doctors and clinical pharmacists should work together on creating a treatment plan for a patient. This ensures a collaboration of expertise with regard to the diagnosis of illnesses and determining the right medication for each of those, which comes from the doctors and the clinical pharmacists, respectively. Owing to the restrictive Indian Laws in the space of clinical pharmacy over the years, the healthcare industry overlooked pharmacists’ proficiency in understanding the effects and prescribing the right dosage of drugs. Personalised medication, a predicted possibility with Artificial Intelligence, is forecasted to pave way for discovering new and more efficient drugs. Apart from this, integrating AI with individual therapy can result in effective dosage monitoring, thereby reducing dosing errors. That said, patients will persistently be exposed to the risk of system errors, increasing the chances of misunderstanding an illness, which may result in defective treatment and life-threatening consequences. Patients fear being treated by machines to varying extents by virtue of the lack of an emotional connection. AI may be trained to understand human emotions but it still has a long way to go before it is able to empathize with patients. One of the most influential factors in a patient’s recovery is feeling positive and human interaction can impact a patient’s mind and feelings, which a machine cannot replace, at least in the near future.

Mr. Muhammad Mukram, Marketing Manager at Lifetime Wellness Rx International Ltd. –

In the business of retail pharmacy, understanding consumer behaviour is crucial. Discounts influence the purchase choices of customers to a large extent. Some customers are rigid with their brand choices when it comes to prescribed medication. But in case of an emergency, customers would prefer proximity of a medical store over discounts and formulation of a tablet over a brand name. AI aids the process of understanding consumer behaviour by identifying patterns like these. Using AI in market research helps marketers gather market insights and understand the demand and supply levels, helping them with designing strategies to influence either of them to maintain balance. AI also influences the process of decision making by providing clarity and a variety of possible scenarios, helping the decision maker take calculated risks.

Marketing plays a more prominent role in preventive healthcare products than in curative products, i.e. prescribed medicines. About 60% of marketing efforts go towards the former, commonly referred to as generalised products.

If data is the new fuel, then customer delight is the new currency. One of the results from marketers’ efforts to make profits is ‘personalisation’. With customer information recorded on the systems, pharmacists are able to remind customers to refill their medication, offering to deliver medicines at their doorstep. While it helps in customer retention, it also helps in maintaining healthy customer relationships.

AI enabled Health Risk Analysis questionnaire is used to understand customers’ mindsets and disposable income. AI detects the factors influencing customers’ answers, giving more information than visible to the human eye. The same questionnaire which is filled by a single person can give two different perspectives, one to the healthcare professional and second to the marketer. If a customer responds to ‘How many times do you eat outside?’ with ‘Almost every day’, a doctor would take note of it in terms of bad eating habits or lifestyle choices, whereas a marketer would understand that this person could be a hostelite having comparatively less disposable income. This understanding helps a marketer identify the target customers more accurately and channel promotional strategies towards them.

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A combination of genomic data and AI for personalised medication can be witnessed in the coming years. Connected intelligence, IoT, smart homes with AI will make personalised care a reality. Widespread adoption of AI is forecasted after 2025, with cognitive applications integrated into nearly all processes. (PwC)

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Marketing is now ensuring that every individual is receiving what they want, when they want, and in which channel they want by using AI to uncover individual content preferences, channels and timing of information. This will help personalised medication and automation of distribution of services. Adherence to medication is crucial for a patient’s recovery. Though patients are aware of this, many still do not finish their medication course. AI will aid the process of understanding the personal reasons of individual patients for stopping medication and addressing those concerns. With the help of AI, along with

Fig. 4

Big Data, it will be easier for marketers to identify physicians, whose drug requirements are in accordance with the marketers’ supply and all their promotional activities, such as customised messaging, will become more effective by reaching the right audience. (Dr. Andree, 2018)


1. Irrespective of the magnitude of changes, the underlying job of healthcare is to save lives and in such a job, precision and accuracy have to be ingrained in every task. There is a possibility for a wrong prediction by an algorithm, wherein AI fails at accuracy. Doctors should, therefore, make sure there are safety features and quality check measures to address such a scenario.

2. Statistically, a large percentage of people are not comfortable with the idea of being medically treated by machines. Neither are all doctors comfortable with consulting a machine before taking an action. While patients feel intimidated and doctors feel threatened, everyone loses focus on the fact that AI’s abilities strictly function to the extent of the data provided. For that reason, there is always a possibility of an exceptional case which AI cannot solve and only medical experts can.

3. The rate at which AI is growing and improving people’s lives is applaudable, but a very little percentage of people have the skill to use and benefit from these applications. Educational institutions should implement these ‘soon-going-to-be-life-skills’ within their syllabi. Healthcare organisations, themselves, can collaborate with educational institutions to organise conferences and workshops for all age-groups. More the number of people who know how to apply AI, faster its absorption and higher the profit figures for corporations.

4. ‘Easy data access’ – a boon and bane of AI. However safe a system might be, hackers might find a way to get around it. Patients’ data is always exposed to the risk of alteration and removal. Organisations should implement strong cybersecurity systems to protect patients’ lives. Cybersecurity systems should also be integrated into marketing processes to avoid data breach and manipulation.

5. Healthcare industry is one of the most regulated and these governing laws might go through tremendous changes as a result of AI’s implementation in the industry.

6. AI-powered chatbots are programmed to give medical advice about common ailments based on the information provided by patients. Patients are not experts in the field of medicine, so there is a chance of misrepresentation and misinterpretation of information. Educating patients and setting strict standards can solve this issue to an extent.


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