‘AI will revolutionize diagnostics’: Medtech expert Mir Imran at EPPICON 23

Ritu Jha–

Medtech veteran Mir Imran, executive chairman at Rani Therapeutics, a robotic capsule says AI will have a massive impact on diagnostics; it will have a big impact on drug discovery and AI will not put doctors out of their jobs instead AI will help them make more important decisions.

Mir Imran

Imran was the opening keynote speaker at the EPPIC (Entrepreneurs and Professionals in Partnership for Innovation in Healthcare) annual conference EPPICON 2023 held Sept. 9 in Foster City,, California, where he talked on “diagnosis and devices with healthcare.”

Speaking to indica on the sidelines of the conference Imran said, “In the next ten years, the biologics, base drugs, cell therapies, Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR), all these things are going to revolutionize how we treat and cure diseases. In the next
10-15 years amazing changes are coming for the better.”

Imran in 1995 founded InCube Labs, and his mission at Rani Therapeutics is to improve the lives of patients suffering from chronic conditions by replacing painful injections with a pill designed to minimize GI discomfort.

When indica asked about Artificial Intelligence and the role that it is likely to play in the healthcare industry, he said: “Large language models of AI are going to revolutionize a lot of business processes. In the healthcare industry, ChatGPT-based models will have a profound impact on the delivery of healthcare during patient interactions. And it will also have a big impact on drug discovery and make those processes more efficient.

He added, “Pretty soon AI will become invisible. When people stop talking about AI, that’s when you know that AI is now part of life. The pace of innovation continues to increase and biologic cancer therapeutics are coming.”

Will AI put doctors out of their jobs? “No. They’ll make more important decisions. They’ll see more patients because AI will save time. We’ll always need physicians for intervention for any therapeutic decision.”

Speaking about the contributions of AI in healthcare moderated by Anurag Mairal, Chairman, EPPIC, as well as Director, Global Outreach Programs at Stanford Byers Center for Biodesign, Imran said that if you talk about medical devices and diagnostics or in drug discovery or drug development, there are just boundless applications, especially on the drug side.

“On the device side, I was just looking through what kind of approvals there have been from the FDA and it looks like until last year there were more than 500 applications and 80% of them were in radiology imaging. So, clearly, imaging is going to be a massive application. Even in CT scans taken after a stroke, AI analysis is being used,” Imran said.

Imran believes that AI will have a massive impact on diagnostics. “In robotic surgery imaging is involved and that requires a lot of automated identification. That’s where some of the biggest AI applications are going to be — in diagnostics, imaging, and robotic surgery. In therapy delivery, we are seeing wearable CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitoring) devices being hooked up to pumps in a closed loop and delivering insulin to patients.”

Replying to a question about commoners’ accessibility to AI-driven diagnosis and healthcare facilities, Imran said: “Healthcare facilities and its availability for all has improved already because of wireless technologies. Smartphones have reached every village in India. The villages may not have electricity but they have solar panels and smartphones. There’s a physician called Devi Shetty who has done an amazing job of connecting to a whole bunch of villages. He has set up a hut with a couple of instruments and people go there and get themselves checked. That data reaches him and he can actually see patients over the phone.”

About risks, Imran said, “Only when there’s too much dependence on AI. The nature of mistakes AI will make will be very different from a human’s. At least we know what kind of mistakes that humans make and you can go sue them and get some relief. But completely autonomous therapies are going to take longer to come to.”

What’s the corrective mechanism that will snuff out risks associated with the use of AI in the healthcare sector?

“Currently you have lots of healthcare products. And if there is a problem like the patient gets compromised, the physician pulls the plug on it and there’s the FDA which will trigger a recall. The likelihood of massive damage to people is low. Because we have our corrective or regulatory framework within which healthcare operates, not outside of that,” he added.