“Digitising healthcare is the key enabler for expanding precision medicine, transforming care delivery, and improving patient experience.”Dileep Mangsuli, Siemens Healthineers
According to the Government of India, the doctor-patient ratio is 1:1445, which is lower than what is prescribed by the WHO. India accounts for more than 1.3 billion population with only 2.4% of the world geographical area, the concept of ‘social distancing’ goes for a toss. Rising cases, alarming positivity rate and extended lockdowns have made many health services inaccessible. Digitisation of healthcare has been sort of a reprieve in these troubled times. Announcing a complete digital health ecosystem, PM introduced the National Digital Health Mission comprising health ID, personal health records, Digi Doctor, and health facility registry as key features. Additionally, in contrast to the previous fiscal year, the Finance Minister has raised healthcare spending by nearly 137 per cent in the Union Budget 2021-22 – signalling the shift.
“The future of healthcare will be digital. Digitising healthcare is the key enabler for expanding precision medicine, transforming care delivery, and improving patient experience, allowing healthcare providers to increase value through better outcomes,” said Dileep Mangsuli of Siemens Healthineers talking to Analytics India Magazine.
People are much more familiar with technology than ever before. Pandemic has changed the traditional lifestyle, and the pattern seems set for the future, with people preferring to receive healthcare services at their doorsteps. “Virtual access, telemedicine, and secure knowledge exchange will strengthen bonds between patients and care teams. Globally, the pandemic has driven the adoption of telemedicine, which is the case in India. A cultural shift to a digital mindset, coupled with new technology, will enable developing learning health systems that improve continually,” explained Dileep.
According to Ranganath Jagannath, Director of Growth, Agora, India & SAARC, bringing doctors and patients together in real-time is a big game-changer in healthcare. Using real-time engagement (RTE), medical consultation apps that allow patients and doctors to engage via text, voice and video chat are significantly easing the load on existing infrastructure. “Low-latency, high-quality experience of RTE allows caregivers and patients to not only conduct secure, remote voice and video consultations but also facilitates the transfer of medical data and records,” he added.
As the pandemic sets in, the demand for fitness and online wellness sessions to stay fit witnesses tremendous growth. “We expect virtual sessions for mental wellbeing and fitness to be redefined considerably now as well as post-pandemic. For example, MixPose, a streaming platform for yoga instructors and fitness professionals, uses real-time engagement to build interactive live streaming into its platform, allowing instructors and viewers to capture the experience of a guided session,” said Ranganath.
Nupur Khandelwal, Co-Founder, Navia Life Care believes that the Covid-19 pandemic has turned our health care system upside down and challenged consumers’ sense of wellbeing. One of the most significant impacts that the industry witnessed is the shift from hospital-based services to telemedicine and virtual care. Consumers are now using virtual visits more than ever before. “The crisis has accelerated the already planned shift in the healthcare continuum with the adoption of virtual and AI-driven tools. Post-crisis, AI and IoT embedded solutions will rule the healthcare industry. Post-crisis, AI and IoT embedded solutions will rule the healthcare industry. Smart healthcare will change our approach from patient-centric prevention to person-centric prevention,” she said.
By seamlessly transmitting data into a patient’s electronic health record, the requirement for efficiency and touch-free interactions has the potential to expand clinical use of natural language processing — a branch of AI that allows computers to interpret spoken statements. Strong data analytics, record-keeping and real-time tracking platforms are key for health organisations to adopt.
However, lack of proper data governance policies still continues to create roadblocks for widespread adoption of cutting edge services. The combined expenditure by the Centre and States on health accounts for about 1.5 per cent of India’s GDP or Rs 3 per person per day. It falls well short of the 2.5 percent goal set by the National Health Policy of 2017. The health infrastructure has crumbled, medical staff fall short, spending on R&D is a mere 0.65% of the GDP and whatnot. The pandemic has proved that it is important to rethink healthcare strategies of the country and AI empowered digitisation can be the torchbearer.