Interview: The Indian American cardiologist who wants to dream big in health-tech

Ritu Jha–

Silicon Valley-based Indian American Dr. Anjali Gulati, an invasive cardiologist, is current president of American Association Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPIO) in Northern California. She recently ventured into health tech, too, and is currently Founder-CEO of Intuitive Medical Documents.

In an interview with indica, Dr Gulati spoke about how tech is transforming healthcare, how AI cannot offer empathy and how blockchain is helping in documentation. Besides, she said, women in 21st century still have to work extra hard to prove themselves.

On Artificial Intelligence and Doctors:
“We are in an age where healthcare delivery has changed rapidly in just the last decade. AI will change the way doctors treat patients. The potential is mindboggling. New algorithms are speeding up diagnosis and treatment plans, all extremely exciting.”

“Healthcare has always been moving forward with new discoveries, new diagnosis, new cures, new techniques, new therapeutics, new machines, and new drugs. Patients need a diagnosis and treatment. AI can help formulate plans for early diagnosis and rapid treatment. The real patient is a human being and not a computer. You cannot treat a patient on a computer, you must go to the bedside and treat the patient.”

“At this point, despite all the available AI, you still need an experienced doctor to use the available AI for the potential benefit of the patient. Doctors go through years of training and practice. There are things that they can pick up that the machine, at this point, may not be able to pick up. Machines can see, machines can watch, machines can do some techniques, but we need a doctor to oversee everything.”

“Other than diagnosis and treatment, a patient needs empathy. This is something a machine cannot provide. This comes from the human touch, can come from a doctor, a nurse, or other healthcare personnel.

If somebody says that technology is so advanced that doctors are not needed today, then they should go and shadow a doctor on call for a day. In the 24 hours of call the doctors are using all the technology available to them and yet, there is so much more that needs to get be done for the patient.

A good analogy would be the cars, trains, planes, etc. Despite all the advances, they still need a driver, a pilot.

The future lies in collaboration of doctors and engineers in improving AI to make it easier for doctors to deliver care.

On Health care documentation and security
Dr. Gulati founded Intuitive Medical Documents (IMD), an electronic medical record documentation. which she designed to make her daily charting intuitive, accurate, easy and fast.

She said she wanted to make her records as secure as possible and so has developed a unique blockchain on which she can store her records with all the security associated with the blockchain technology. This unique blockchain has a faster TPS(transactions per second) than any other blockchain in the market.

In addition, it has an associated database. This allows them to develop software on it. Dr. Gulati said that she has a patent pending on it.

On Women and the workplace in the 21st Century
“Women in the 21st century still have glass ceilings and have a long way to go, however we should stay positive and see the glass half full, acknowledge and appreciate all the incredible progress made by women.”

“It does not matter which century, there is always something that is lacking in society, and we can always improve upon it, we are always evolving,” Dr. Gulati said. Even though we say that women are not where they should be, you must look back and see, where are we coming from.

“If we look at our Indian Mythology and Indian history, women were very empowered. And then down the centuries, things changed. Somewhere along the line, women became second class citizens. Now in the last 50-60 years, once again, women are getting empowered in India.”

“Our Indian society, the government, the media, and at the grassroots levels, the families, are all educating their daughters. They are all encouraging their girls to go forward and conquer the world in all fields, whether it’s medicine, engineering, army, air force, politics, or any walk of life.

“Women in India are doing phenomenally well. Women in the United States and all over the world, they too are getting support from the media. The buzzword is “Women empowerment”. We are in wonderful times because we are already getting a leg up from everybody who realizes that it is important to empower women. We are at a very good stage in history right now. We must work hard and ensure this momentum doesn’t. stop.”

On women’s role in politics
“I come from India, where we have had women political leaders forever,” she said. “But in the US, there are lots of fields that are male dominated. Politics is one of them. On the national stage, this too is getting better for women. We have had powerful women leaders in the democratic as well as republican parties. Hillary Clinton, powerful and popular! Unfortunately, it did not go her way. Now we have Kamala Harris as the vice president. Recently we had Nikki Haley challenging Trump.”

“These are some examples of women who have been on the national stage, however luck, which is a key factor in politics, has not favored them. It’s not like they are not there and not trying. Given time, there will be a woman president! Hopefully in our lifetime.”

“We just have to keep a push at it and not lose momentum as women and as a society. The moment you lose conviction in yourself, you have lost half the battle. The moment you believe in yourself, you have won the battle.”

Adding on she said, “Women have always had to work extra hard to prove themselves. Anybody who wants to excel in their field must work extra hard, meritocracy still exists, and society must not give up; we should continue to work hard and empower all our women.”

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