Digital technologies data are bringing quality healthcare within reach for all Indians. Serving a Digital-first India eBook by AWS Serving a Digital-first India eBook by AWS is a tribute to how startups are enabling innovation and showcases trends that are currently disrupting the industry.
A government-led push to healthcare providers to go digital coupled with other factors like the gaining popularity of telemedicine, increasing instances of lifestyle diseases and an increased investment flow from public as well as private investors is all set to change the very shape of the Indian healthcare space.
The sector is projected to more than double, from a valuation of $61.79 billion in 2017 to $132.84 billion in 2023, according to data released by India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF). In the backdrop of the pandemic, a robust healthcare sector can lead future economic growth and offer avenues for employment and also help protect the health of the nation as a whole.
With the launch of the Government of India’s National Health Protection Mission, the Ayushman Bharat Yojana, the government aims to bring healthcare within reach of everyone by providing about 100 million poor and vulnerable families a health insurance coverage of up to ₹5,00,000 for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization.
Riding on this wave are a host of healthtech startups that are mushrooming all over the country in the recent past, which are using technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and blockchain to change the very way we perceive healthcare. The process has only got accelerated with push to technology from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Healthcare is fast shifting from the clinic to the mobile phone, with teleconsultations with doctors, online pharmacies, use of Cloud to collate hospital data at a unified place becoming commonplace. A Serving a Digital-first India eBook by AWS is a tribute to how startups are enabling innovation and showcases some of these trends that are currently disrupting the industry.
The increasing penetration of smartphones and mobile internet in India is using modern-day technologies to bring the best doctors and facilities closer to patients remotely. While on one hand online portals and apps are allowing doctor consultations over video calls, big data and analytics and AI are offering higher accuracy in diagnostics, eliminating human error and speeding up the process of cure.
A McKinsey report reveals India could save about $10 million by 2025 by using telemedicine instead of in person doctor consultations. Another area that is fast gaining popularity is the use of wearables, which are essentially devices that can be attached to the body to monitor metrics such as blood pressure, breathing patterns and sleep data.
They monitor the vitals for the stipulated time and share a constant flow of data in the form of real-time health records with healthcare practitioners for faster and more effective diagnosis.
Another big driver of change in the landscape of home-based healthcare solutions is blockchain technology, which is expected to gain acceptance beyond cryptocurrency. Using tech, critical patient data will be shared in real-time to improve the quality of treatment and bring about greater levels of transparency in the process of treatment.
Improving the reach
A significant part of India’s population is underserved by the traditional healthcare system that exists. A majority of this is ‘private’ healthcare which is within reach of only a select few, and we need many more doctors and paramedics than what we currently have to serve the entire population.
With these challenges, data will prove to be the real game changer. Technologies like AI are being used to improve both the speed and accuracy of diagnostics. Imaging technology has reduced the time to diagnosis from days to seconds as cutting-edge technologies interpret imagine and throw up near-instant results.
But, for a country like ours, any process of transformation needs to take into account local factors. While the healthcare sector has undergone a sea change in the past few years, an important consideration is cost and affordability. Any of these new technologies need to be designed and more importantly priced for the country to gain universal acceptance and make an impact.
Another area where AI can play a pivotal role is in the field of drug research and discovery, which takes about 12 years on an average to move from the lab to the patient. The vast sea of data available in India can be shared with the rest of the world to help build progression models that can put us at the forefront of a healthcare revolution.
The Government’s role
While India battles issues like a low doctor to patient ratio, lack of database and proper healthcare infrastructure, the government’s boost towards digital technologies and the increased penetration of telecom bandwidth even in remote areas will give the sector the much-needed fillip.
The Union budget 2018 allocated a sum of ₹3,073 crore under the government’s NITI Aayog scheme towards development of emerging technologies like AI, IoT, Blockchain and 3D Printing. On March 25, 2020, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare came out with the Telemedicine Practice Guidelines 2020 under the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 providing detailed guidelines on teleconsultation between doctors and patients.
The idea is to use digital technologies in healthcare and the availability of mobile internet data to bring quality healthcare within reach for all Indians, even those living in remote areas that don’t have access to proper hospitals. Telemedicine has a very important role to play in the delivery of healthcare services and in using technology not just for diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases but also for research and development in the field of medicine.
The government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative is another step in this direction as India looks at domestic manufacture of medical devices, thereby bringing down the cost of treatment.
In a post pandemic world, healthcare will continue to remain a focus area the world over and India is no exception there. With our competitive advantage increasing and with increased government spending, introducing new technologies and innovating will become easier than it has ever been in the past. It is time for India to embrace the change and make healthcare more accessible, effective and affordable for all.
If you wish to know more about how technology is restructuring India’s healthcare sector, you can read the eBook Serving a Digital-first India by AWS. Click here to download your copy.