‘Artificial intelligence has the potential to change healthcare’

‘Artificial intelligence has the potential to change healthcare’
Nagaraj Bhat, VP & MD of Cardinal Health International IndiaBusiness Insider India

  • Nagaraj Bhat, VP & MD of Cardinal Health International India, talks about what’s fuelling digital transformation in the healthcare sector.
  • The market for global augmented reality in healthcare is expected to grow to $1.9 billion in 2022, from $1.4 billion last year.
  • By 2050, one in every four individuals in Europe and North America will be beyond the age of 65, putting more patients with complicated requirements on the healthcare system's plate.
Cardinal Health, the $165-billion global healthcare distributor and manufacturer, opened its global tech hub in Bengaluru in April this year. The launch of Cardinal Health International India (CHII) as a new global capability centre, according to the company, is a step towards providing more innovative healthcare solutions and enabling digital transformation.

Cardinal Health has invested $8 million in CHII, which plans to acquire local talent and function as a global hub for digital skills and delivery. The firm currently has around 400 employees and plans to expand to over 600 by the end of this year.

CHII will also support enterprise-level digital transformation initiatives across Cardinal Health.
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With its core focus on technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), automation and analytics, CHII has been instrumental in helping Cardinal Health develop robust healthcare systems in terms of delivery, outcomes and reduced costs.

Business Insider India caught up with Nagaraj Bhat, VP & MD, CHII, to talk about digital transformation in the healthcare sector, how the industry can address the digital talent gap and the potential of AI in healthcare.

Is there a talent supply and demand gap that impedes digital transformation and innovation in the healthcare sector? How can we address this?

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rate of digital transformation has increased rapidly in every sector, and it is expected to continue long after it is over. As companies seek to embrace more digital ways of doing business, there is a swelling need for employees with digital and technology skill sets. Certainly, the demand for talent is higher than the supply. And the only way to work around this is by reskilling and upskilling your current employees.

If we take Cardinal Health as an example, we provide our employees access to learning programmes anytime and anywhere. We believe that easy access to learning modules helps improve employee efficiency significantly. We have used gamification methods to drive greater engagement in learning modules. The game mechanics to reward learners with points and badges, coupled with publishing leaderboards, have made learning very competitive and engaging.

At CHII, we continually assess skill gaps through surveys and expressions of interest in various areas. This data has helped us proactively address skill gaps, hence encouraging a culture of continuous learning. The disruptive challenges created during the pandemic must be converted into opportunities that require organisations to equip the existing workforce to solve.

CHII’s focus here is on the 3A’s - artificial intelligence, automation and analytics. Tells us how augmented intelligence will shape the healthcare sector globally. What are some of the immediate use cases of the technology?


According to reportlinker.com and their report on "Augmented Reality In Health Care Global Market Report 2022," the global augmented reality in healthcare market is expected to grow from $1,415.23 million in 2021 to $1,862.37 million in 2022. This growth is driven largely due to the demand that grew exponentially during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021. The market is expected to reach $5,503.95 million in 2026.

With a large ageing population and increased strain from the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare systems face increasing demand, rising expenses and a staff that is straining to meet the needs of their patients. Population ageing, changing patient expectations, a shift in lifestyle choices and the never-ending cycle of innovation are just a few of the relentless forces driving demand. The ramifications of an ageing population stand out among these. By 2050, one in every four individuals in Europe and North America will be beyond the age of 65, putting more patients with complicated requirements on the healthcare system's plate.

Managing such patients is costly, and it necessitates a change in thinking – away from episodic treatment toward one that is more proactive and focused on long-term care management. Imagine having an automated way to predict the surges in healthcare and inform the providers to be prepared for those surges in terms of when and what to purchase. That is just a fraction of what AI can offer. Artificial intelligence (AI), which is based on automation, has the potential to change healthcare and help address some of the issues mentioned above.

The pandemic had caused great disruptions in healthcare supply chains globally. How are digital technologies and innovations helping firms modernise supply chains?

Digital technology is playing a vital role in helping supply chains to operate more efficiently, which is critical given the lack of supply and the need to move items quickly in a global marketplace. From predicting where inventory is most needed to plotting the most efficient route from manufacturer to patient, digital technologies are helping healthcare deliver (the) needed medicines and products to those who need them most.

We have expanded our warehouse footprint that optimises our distribution network and enhances our customer service levels, while positioning us for sustained growth in an area of patient care. We recently launched the tenth US distribution centre for Cardinal Health at-Home Solutions. The new facility will integrate logistics technology, including robotic storage capabilities, conveyance and an AI-driven platform to optimise digital supply chain planning.