With the stabilisation of the technological backbone whereby almost all media of content – image, videos, sound, text – can be transmitted and acted upon in real time, telemedicine is emerging as the frontier for ensuring the inclusiveness of quality healthcare services to the entire population base. Heart and blood pressure monitors can now wirelessly transmit the patient’s data to mobile phones or a central online database accessed by telemedicine centres. Healthcare chains are increasing their services footprints by expanding their telemedicine base. A wider spectrum of healthcare innovations are taking shape to facilitate anytime anywhere quality healthcare consultations.
We at eHEALTH chose to talk to some of the finest adopters of this mode of extending their reach and impact which encompasses the conventional telemedicine suites, video conferencing applications, mobile healthcare apps and other health devices.
Telemedicine started in a static way with primary healthcare (PHC) got connected to speciality hospitals. Static because people still had to travel to telemedicine enabled PHCs. Even these centres had limited bandwidth. The first revolution happened when the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) started their telemedicine programme in 2001 with their mobile healthcare units connecting remote areas to speciality hospitals. State governments started using ISRO’s mobile units for their telemedicine programme. However, the growth was limited, as it was taken up only by state governments and as a corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity.
India’s healthcare sector is poised to grow to $280 billion by 2020 while it is expected to be a leader in e-health by 2019. It is said that even though Indian telemedicine, is in its nascent stage, it is showing robust growth at approximately 20 per cent and is projected to grow from $8 million in 2012 to approximately $19 million by 2017. The launch of Social Endeavour for Health and Telemedicine (SEHAT) by Government of India bolsters the sentiment of the industry considering the fact that Government is equally committed to the segment and intends to empower it in times to come.
The take of various healthcare organisations on the spread and expanse of telemedicine as an extension service to their brick & mortar establishments; ways and means of juxtaposed the two set-ups; revenue targets through these expansion services; policy hurdles faced; envisaged support from the Government; technological limitation posed and the general response and comfort of the patients when it comes to telemedicine solutions were some of our key asks on the subject which were responded quite enthusiastically by the fraternity. Here we present some of the refined extracts from these elaborate interactions.
Founder & CEO of iCliniq
“At iCliniq, we have noticed that 80% of health issues can be solved online provided a proper process is followed to evaluate patients. We were the first to have a moderation team to devise this process. We discovered that the best medical outcomes happen when ‘doctors ask the right questions to patients’ and not the contrary. Thanks to this approach, we have successfully consulted more than 1,30,000 health issues and are the first platform to have query, phone and video consults”
Founder & CEO, eClinic247
“As a relatively new concept for both the consumers (patients) and the providers (doctors) in India, Telemedicine faces multiple challenges. Patients seek trust and service credibility from a new, unfamiliar online healthcare medium. Eclinic247 is establishing this by having transparent processes, clear information and top-notch customer service to help customers at every step of the way, as they try out this new way of getting on-demand consultations. On the provider side, the challenges are in adoption of the Electronic Health Record (EHR) system and a nuanced understanding of how the medium can be productively harnessed. We have worked very closely with physicians as we designed the product for improved ease of use, innovative features and being very mobile friendly for our doctor-facing platform/application.”
Mobility Solution is the most inexpensive way to provide quality healthcare
We feel mobility is the way to go and it is the inexpensive way to provide quality healthcare. Today, a mobile comes with all the elements required for audio/ visual communication and transmission. It is expected that all mobile phones manufactured and released in early 2017 onwards must have an SOS alert system and GPS tracking. Indian telemedicine is demanding light weight smart healthcare devices which can be carried anywhere and can be easily used by village entrepreneurs or health workers. Mobile penetration in India is very high and it is across the country. Slowly smartphone penetration is also increasing.
The ‘Make in India’ initiative has helped companies like us to get an extra edge in the challenging Indian healthcare device market. With government initiatives of fibreconnectivity across villages is going to help India digitally connected and aid digital revolution. Hence, connectivity and reach would become a mute issue. However, the last mile of collecting the right data and sharing with the quality care providers has become the need of the day. The latest generation medical equipment with sophisticated system has supported physicians to diagnose and cure patients from critical and life threatening diseases. Technological advancements in video/ audio conferencing, picture archiving and communication systems (PACS) and healthcare information systems (HIS) have made significant inroads in providing better system for patient care. All the notable advancements made in IT are oriented towards sick care.
CEO & Director, American Megatrends India
“Our motto is to empower every common man on the planet with the right to know his/her vitals or the family’s health conditions without the dependency a physician unless there is a real need for it”
AMI has entered into a strategic partnership with HealthNet Global Limited (HNG), an affiliate of Apollo Hospitals, aimed at delivering global digital health solutions for Rural Health Connect, Home Health Monitoring and Tele-health Services. Through this partnership HNG will launch a new set of digital health care solutions under the “Control-H” brand. The Control-H Health Monitoring Device is a fully integrated solution that combines handheld medical device technology developed by AMI with the total remote healthcare solution technology developed by HealthNet Global. Control-H provides the user with essential health information at any time and place by collecting key vital data such as non-invasive blood pressure (NiBP), pulse, blood oxygen level, body temperature, blood glucose, hemoglobin and cholesterol levels via a compact and portable device and sending the data to the HNG Health Cloud. The HNG Health Cloud then connects to the Apollo network of doctors, physicians, consultants and specialists to provide quality healthcare to individual patients – anytime, anywhere.
Companion portable devices like AMI B.O.L.T and AMI VitalsFit (Engineered by Top7 company in QTXP global competition) extends the value of the smartphone by taking the quality healthcare to doorsteps of the individuals. The health parameters are not only accurately collected but it is instantaneously transmitted to the caregiver for quality care.