India’s healthcare system is a collection of paradoxes – with advanced medical technologies and devices continuously developed at one end and a severe lack of accessible, affordable healthcare at the other. However, backed by positive government reforms, there has been a greater adoption of digital solutions in the last mile delivery of healthcare; increasing capacity, efficiency and aiding better clinical outcomes for patients. The onset of Covid-19 amplified this adoption phenomenally. According to Teladoc Health Survey, approximately 60% patients took to online consultation via virtual clinics, accessing critical clinical and diagnostic care remotely over the previous year. This has led to better digital tech adoption in healthcare paving the way for further penetration.
The pandemic effect: Accelerated Digital Adoption
There are key trends in the healthcare ecosystem that any country witnesses, however at varied levels due to socio-economic disparity.
- Capacity: Healthcare demand has been rising in Asia due to the rapidly growing population with a propensity to pay, however hospital systems need to match this demand effectively
- Productivity: 20% of healthcare spend in OECD countries is wasted. Some deliberate and others a result of inefficient systems or lack of knowledge.
- Patient Outcomes: Medical errors are estimated to be the 3rd leading cause of death.
There are several examples where the use of digital solutions can address and manage challenges of capacity, efficiency, and patient outcomes. Remote critical patient monitoring has been made possible with Tele-ICU solution. 10 to 15 patients were cared for daily, however with this digital intervention, the number has gone up to 80 to 100! Yet another example from, a research centre in Nagpur proved that optimal use of their newly procured medical equipment can be relayed through digital intervention, the Digital Expert, saving time, cost, and access to experts to learn from. Digital solutions can also improve clinical outcomes for patients, the Critical Care Suite AI embedded in an X-ray can flag a suspected collapsed lung bumping the x-ray report up in the queue, thereby allowing the radiologist to see it faster for diagnosis and treatment.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was no doubt that healthcare was already embracing digital and associated technologies. A study conducted prior to the pandemic found that nearly half (45%) of healthcare professionals in the US and UK said AI was already helping minimize administrative burden and staff burnout while boosting their ability to spend time with and provide care to patients.
The post-pandemic world looks poised to adopt digitization into every area of the healthcare ecosystem. I believe the emergence of digital healthcare such as virtual care solutions, remote patient monitoring, smarter AI integrated medtech devices will allow for better and more purposeful treatment outcomes. We need to work towards a complete modernization of the current infrastructure to make healthcare more intelligence-based, giving us the learnings, we need from the data we’re generating. Ultimately, more intelligent healthcare will be more efficient.
Collaboration is key here – no one company or stakeholder can do this alone. The India EdisonTM Accelerator program harnesses the brainpower of the start-up ecosystem to solve for some of the toughest healthcare challenges by making the EdisonTM, our intelligence platform richer and robust. For example, one the start-ups we worked with 5C Network is solving the fundamental problem of lack of access to specialists for quality diagnosis, especially in non-urban areas.
With the government’s focus on healthcare with programs such as Ayushman Bharat and National Digital Health Blueprint, Universal Healthcare is fast becoming a reality. And now with the extensive focus on digitization, India will be positioned well to mitigate its age-old problems of accessibility and affordability of quality healthcare to a great extent.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
END OF ARTICLE