Dr Biren Chauhan, Group COO, Sunshine Global Hospitals, Gujarat shares how technology in healthcare will contribute to bridge gaps and will make healthcare more accessible and available. Edited excerpts:
Has India’s health care system embarked on a purely digital journey?
From the policy decisions taken around digital health in the last few years, it seems that the government is committed to transforming the healthcare space with great focus. ABDM (Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission) is an attempt to future ready Indian Healthcare Ecosystem with digital push being the core theme. Agile India Enterprise Architecture (IndEA) Framework is an attempt by the Government to create an interactive standard digital framework for various departments and ministries at central and state level. Same IndEA framework will become the backbone on which ABDM will get its wings. At present, as these reforms are in its nascent stage of implementation and that is why initial challenges will be there. In the long term, this is going to be the foundation on which the Indian healthcare system will flourish.
How do you see the role of technology in pre and postCovid healthcare?
Pre-Covid, the role of technology was limited to medical equipments and pharmaceutical innovations. Penetration was not that great as compared to other industries. Covid-19 pandemic forced healthcare providers to adopt technology in a patient and employee centric manner. Patients are now able to find healthcare services near to them and at their fingertips. Lots of hospital visits are now avoided thanks to the technology and its impact on patients.
Post Covid-19 new normal cannot be envisioned without technology being there. Technology will have significant impact be it OPD or IPD care, Acute or Chronic Care, Preventive or Curative care, Mega City or Rural Areas, etc.
Technology in healthcare will definitely contribute to bridge gaps and will make healthcare more accessible and available.
What are the various technologies and tools you see making a difference in the healthcare segment in the coming times?
There are few promising technologies which have shaped other industries and are expected to do the same in the Healthcare Domain. Wearables are going to be one such impactful tool around healthcare. 3D Printing, Digital Diagnostics, Home based care through digital medium etc will impact care and outcomes of patients significantly. Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Cloud based services and software-as-aservice (SaaS) will act as catalyst for healthcare.
How can technology be used to strengthen the health infrastructure in a country like ours?
Digital solutions which are need based, low cost and have high value impact will strengthen the healthcare infrastructure of our country. One such example is in front of us in the form of the CoWin portal for vaccinating at unprecedented scale in India. It has been successful as it was a need base, low cost and high impact and user friendly. Such solutions are bound to strengthen the Indian Healthcare Ecosystem. AtmaNirbhar Bharat initiative of GoI will have positive impact in Healthcare.
What are the policy initiatives you foresee in the Health IT space that will create a healthcare system of the future?
Building blocks of ABDM like Unique Health ID for every citizen, Health Facility registry (HFR), Healthcare Professionals Registry (HPR) and Digitally Stored Patient Health Records (PHR) will be such initiatives which will make the Indian healthcare system future ready. Integrated and interoperable standardized digital platforms will go great lengths to strengthen the futuristic healthcare system of our country. Drafting Healthcare Policy with a long term vision and supporting it with the right kind of programs and initiatives will be critical to the success of ABDM and such initiatives.