The digital healthcare in India is on the cusp of a revolution. The country booming with population faces some unique challenges. The paradox is that while almost 70% of the population live in the villages, India has 80% of its healthcare infrastructure in the cities. Moreover, city-bred doctors do not relocate to rural areas, and young professionals from villages who become doctors move to the cities for better opportunities. This vast gap can only be cemented with new technologies reaching the grass-root levels. This is only possible by digitalizing the entire healthcare delivery system. Healthcare is transforming the whole ecosystem from ‘paper-based system’ to ‘electronic health record systems’. This new digital infrastructure will ensure more efficient service delivery.
Benefits of digitalization
The chances of human errors on medical records of the patients can be reduced with a centralized database containing all aspects of patients’ health. In fact, the Government of India has taken an ambitious initiative of digitalization in healthcare by introducing eHealth, which is a part of Digital India program. eHealth is the enterprise of Healthcare that promises to increase efficiency in health care, thereby decreasing costs. This portal also covers other activities including case studies, research papers, policy briefs, articles, executive interviews, industry trends and market update.
Digitalisation can not only create new care models but also can create better patient engagement and clinical efficiency. It can provide a solution by leveraging technologies like analytics, cloud, social, mobile and the internet of things (IoT).
Tele-medicine, Remote ICU, and big data-like advanced technologies are being leveraged to find solutions that can change the way health care is delivered in the country. With concepts like ePharmacy, eDiagnostics, eInsurance, eReferrals, digitalization will certainly foster a robust ecosystem. Truly, digitalizing is reshaping the healthcare delivery system in India towards greater accessibility.
More on the Current Scenario In India
Headlines in Economic Times, a leading daily read, “Digital healthcare in India – on the cusp of a revolution”
Venkatadri Bobba, General Partner of Ventureast (also the writer of the report) commented,
“The Indian Healthcare market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 23% to USD 280bn by 2020 from USD 100bn in 2015. This growth is being driven by lifestyle diseases, an aging population, rising income levels, increasing access to insurance and growing health awareness. This rapidly increasing need and demand for healthcare services puts immense pressure on various stakeholders to efficiently manage the scarce human resources and inadequate infrastructure while controlling the increasing cost burden on consumers and simultaneously providing better quality care and increased accessibility.”
Experts have seconded this growth analysis.
Of course, there are challenges, but also many opportunities, in the age of smartphones. With its teeming population of over 600 million young people, it is very important to be part of this global digital push. There is enormous potential to improve many aspects of health and social care with digitalization.
Shibasish Pramanik, Associate Director- Healthcare, PwC India asserts, “Technology has extensively and intensely impacted healthcare today and is already shaping how it will look in the future. Creating awareness and developing incentives for the use of technology is key to ensuring the investment in technology yields higher returns”.
Tools of Digital India
Smartphones have become the biggest tool for the global digital push. Traditional challenges can be appropriately addressed by introducing innovative technologies and streamlining the processes. Industry experts can revolutionize the entire healthcare ecosystem by outreaching the market to share the concepts and ideas.
Technology is creating bridges for different aspects of healthcare as tablets and iPads are being used to access patients’ records. Smartphones have opened the gates for doctors and patients to connect virtually and collaborate in real time.
Many online portals allow individuals to take advice online or consult doctors round-the-clock over the phone and through HD video consultation if they have an urgent health concern that requires immediate consultation.
DawaiBox is one such app that helps to digitally store an individual’s/family’s complete health records right from prescriptions to report. The platform provides services to save a patient’s medical records in a digital format online which makes them easily accessible anytime from anywhere. By making records of the dates, one can never miss the date for vaccination for their kids and gets the reminders as well telephonically. It also makes it easy for an individual’s physician to access the prescription even if the patient is traveling.
Telemedicine is another marvelous invention that has opened new avenues for rural healthcare. It is being used to expand the reach to rural communities. It has considerably reduced consultation time by cutting wait times through optimal utilization of physicians and by avoiding the requirement to travel to a hospital.
An interesting example is that of market leader Sharda Hospital. The hospital provides telemedicine through the transfer of medical information, medical transcription in all forms of audios, videos, motion pictures, still, images, graphics, CDs, emails, Internet are other forms of electronic methods.
Similarly, another portal allows patients to connect with doctors using mobile devices and video chat. In both rural and urban areas, Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) can digitalize patient’s information coming from various sources at one place. The enables the doctor to make an accurate prognosis faster.
Cloud umbrella is another buzzword as well. About 90% of the caregivers are now storing all their patient records in digital format and then moving them to the cloud. This ensures complete access to the entire information at one point itself.
Big Data and predictive algorithms are being increasingly applied to diagnose patients more accurately by relying on analytics-based solutions for more rapid and accurate detection, diagnosis, and treatment.
Healthcare fraternity can reap huge benefits by taking advantage of the healthcare policy environment mushrooming through the internet. While focusing on the capacity creation and hard infrastructure development for reducing the imbalances, the need of the hour is a ‘digital explosion’ moment in Indian healthcare. New technologies and innovations need to be optimally harnessed to provide quality health care for over a billion Indians.
The ambition of Digital India is to offer healthcare access to every Indian. There should be no need to travel beyond 100km, by the year 2030. India stands at the crossroads where it can offer its technology and manpower to build Global Telemedicine companies that would solve the healthcare problems for both the developed and emerging worlds.
“The investment in healthcare and technology should reap the digital dividend for all Indians.” – Business Line