The use of technology in clinical practice in India is primarily limited to the front office activities such as appointment scheduling and billing, while to prevent chronic diseases it is mostly limited to health checks, says Krishna Ulagaratchagan, Co-Founder and CEO of healthi — a preventive healthcare company using analytics and advanced technology to serve people in more than 130 cities and towns across India — in an email interaction with Elets News Network (ENN).
How is the Indian healthcare sector is getting transformed?
Two significant transformations are currently under way in the Indian healthcare sector: the increasing adoption of technology in clinical practice and a systematic effort to prevent chronic diseases. However, both these efforts are in their infancy. For technology, its use in clinical practice in India is primarily limited to the front office activities such as appointment scheduling and billing. For the latter, it is mostly limited to health checks. Though people are more aware and go for regular health checkups, there is still a bit of disconnect.
While preventive health is one of the fastest growing segments in healthcare, India is also the chronic disease capital of the world, necessitating a greater emphasis and a maniacal drive for outcomes in prevention. Indians have a genetic disposition towards heart disease and diabetes and, therefore, it is important to be extra vigilant and aware.
“A healthcare scenario where wellness behavioral data and historical health data is accurately recorded, owned, and managed by the patient and shared with the healthcare professionals is the need of the hour. “
What role technology is playing to improve delivery of health services in India?
For the individual, technology has revolutionized the healthcare domain and enabled better access to medical facilities and virtual consultations. It has also led to better awareness among people about the importance of taking care of your own health.
For the healthcare practitioner, technology has made it easy for medical faculties to mine disease-related trends, identify epidemics early, highlight the genetic predisposition of contracting a certain disease, and suggest preventive measures and diagnosis for the same with increased efficiency. It has also paved way for the medical fraternity to enable cost-effective treatment programmes, testing procedures, and diagnosis through online and mobile-based applications. Technology has made it easier for medical practitioners to do a check and assess a patient’s treatment and recovery virtually without meeting them in person.
Enabling cloud-based medical records has helped both the medical fraternity and the patients alike in managing, tracking, and accessing their medical records effectively without having to carry them around everywhere. This saves a lot of time and resources which would otherwise be required to manage such huge chunks of data.
“Technology has made data collection, and mining and analysis of huge chunks of raw data easier, making it easier for researchers and surveyors to identify trends and risk factors for a particular region, race, and geography.”
Which key trends you see have the potential to change the public healthcare delivery system?
Some key trends with the potential to change healthcare delivery are as follows:
Focus on prevention: Preventive healthcare is the fastest growing segment of healthcare and is expected to double by 2020. The increased adoption of preventive healthcare, will hopefully slow the advance of the number of adults in India who are expected to contract a chronic condition in the near future.
Within preventive healthcare, the increased use of technology enables medical practitioners to identify trends earlier and create more effective care pathways for the customer.
Improved research: Technology has made data collection, and mining and analysis of huge chunks of raw data easier, making it easier for researchers and surveyors to identify trends and risk factors for a particular region, race, and geography. They can now collect data for a certain community and find links to specific diseases, genetic mutations, and geography-based disorders.
Public-Private partnerships: Over the past few years various state governments have launched public-private initiatives in healthcare delivery which have the potential to be wildly successful.
For example, the initiative by the Andhra government, amongst others, to partner with private entities to establish a network of diagnostics centres across the state have gone a long way in delivering quality healthcare affordably. This has also significantly improved accountability in healthcare delivery and through it better outcomes.
Which innovative ideas or products have you introduced to improve healthcare outcomes?
healthi plans to empower 1.5 million users to make smart choices about their health by 2018. To do so, healthi intends to continue to invest in improving the efficacy of the our AI based predictive analytics engine, and to empower better connectivity and communication between the healthcare provider and the customer through technology.
healthi also intends to double down on its research partnerships to improve efficacy of chronic disease prediction and management in India. Outputs from research and product development would build on healthi’s personalized and easy-to- understand approach to preventive health, thus further empowering users to make healthy lifestyle choices.
Please share your views on the way forward for the Indian healthcare sector.
A healthcare scenario where wellness behavioral data and historical health data is accurately recorded, owned, and managed by the patient and shared with the healthcare professionals is the need of the hour. There is a need to make the process of identifying the right preventive health exercise unintimidating; provide choices that factor in the user’s unique needs; and present easy-to- understand results that answer 3 simple questions: how healthy am I? What do
I continue/change in order to get and stay healthy? and Who can help?A combination of scientifically validated predictive analytics, machine learning technology, user-friendly design, strong partnerships with healthcare majors and cutting-edge research can make the preventive health journey personalized and “one-size- fit-one”, and thereby insightful, engaging, and effective.