Digitally Empowering Healthcare Enterprises – The Road Ahead

Technology has the potential to be the primary enabler to address the gaps present in the healthcare industry wherein the need for innovation and technology-driven change has become crucial now explains Kaanchi Chawla of Elets News Network (ENN).

Digital health is a cornerstone of developed health systems all over the world. Over the last decade, the digital health industry has been increasing significantly. In 2020, over $21 billion were invested in the industry, compared to around one billion U.S. dollars in 2010. The biggest digital health trend in the coming years will be patient-centric. However, funding and cost will be a big challenge.

The healthcare industry has seen a paradigm shift toward technology after the pandemic. The usage of machine learning (ML) with electronic health records (EHR) is expanding in popularity as a mechanism to extract knowledge that can enhance the decision making process in healthcare.

The prompt swiftness of development in India has resulted in a change in the sort and extent of diseases and healthcare needs. People’s lifestyles have changed immensely because of widespread urbanisation and modernisation, and technology has given rise to many new, cost-effective treatments that have changed how healthcare is provided.

With the evolution of digitisation in healthcare, blockchain and cloud computing technologies have recreated a significant part in clinical data collection, storage, and exchange. The adoption of artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things (IoT), and data management practices has made hospitals smarter and enhanced the workflow and staff scheduling of hospitals, by accelerating impartial and authentic treatment.

The refinements in the healthcare industry range from e-consultations, telemedicine, and real-time diagnosis to accessing digital therapeutics fed by immersion technology tools. Genetic analysis, big data, and analytics clinical data storage allow the development of precise treatments. Outcomes in genomics, nano medicine, and regenerative medicine are providing personalised healthcare.

Adding to this, Dr K Madangopal, Senior Consultant, NITI Aayog articulated his thoughts on the new innovations and technology adopted in the healthcare industry at the Elets Healthcare Innovation Summit. He expressed, “Technology and innovation are the keys to digital innovation. Digital health, mHealth, and other technologies have evolved in the country. In fact, the entire health system has evolved.”

The private sector claims that they are providing healthcare but if we look at the footfalls in the private and public sectors, it is more or less 50 per cent, while there is more expenditure in the private sector. 70 per cent of healthcare expenditure happens in the private sector and most of it is financed by out-of pocket expenses, which means 1.4 billion people are chasing around a million healthcare providers for seeking their care, he further added.

The healthcare industry in India is expanding at a rapid pace. We already acquired the technology, but its applications and adaptations emerged during the epidemic era. With the Ayushman Bharat program, the Indian government established free, adequate healthcare for the most vulnerable members of society.

The Government of India has furthermore developed Sustainable Development Goals that are to be accomplished within 2030. This is ensured as an endeavor to defeat poverty and ensure health and peace among the people. It aims at providing restorative living for people belonging to all age groups by eradicating and eliminating malnutrition and providing access to hygiene, sanitation, and safe drinking water.

The healthcare system is in a crisis where there are many opportunities as well as obstacles. With the assistance of governments promoting cognition, understanding, and knowledge through various initiatives, it has a bright and optimistic future.

In context with the adoption of technology, Manisha Kumar, Chief Operating Officer, HCG Hospitals, stated “During covid, we have seen an enormous disruption, especially in healthcare delivery. Doctors and patients adopted digital technologies and overcame the disruption by providing virtual consultations or teleconsultations. In the last decade, there has been an entry of a lot of technology intervention enablements in healthcare delivery such as teleconsultations, virtual consultations, telemedicine, teleradiology, but the adoption has been reluctant.”

Digital health solutions have grown in number significantly. Following the pandemic, the country’s healthcare ecosystem has gained momentum. Technology can significantly contribute to achieving resource sharing and equality between public and private players.

New technologies drive future technological innovation, which alters healthcare, but human factors continue to be a major barrier to progress.

Technology drives the healthcare industry through various innovations with the tech-enabled industry. Artificial Intelligence, digitisation of healthcare worker enhances the efficiency of hospitals and assists in the smooth decision-making process.

Although the pandemic posed an unprecedented threat to the nation’s public health, it also coincided with the creation and expansion of a number of cutting-edge health technology companies, many of which were founded during the pandemic itself. Dr Charu Dutt Arora, Founder Member, and Head Consultant, Asian Institute of Medical Science stated, “The future of healthcare is at home because the primordial focus is on preventive wellness. It’s from cure to care. The senior care or the home healthcare market grew at a compound interest rate of almost 19.5 per cent in 2021. With the augmentation of AI, big data, and machine learning software, it becomes more seamless, and proactive rather than less reactive.

The healthcare industry has driven innovation into everything from healthcare delivery strategies to the production of technologies and equipment. The adoption of telemedicine and online pharmacies has increased at the same time that healthcare is shifting from hospitals to homes to 24/7 virtual care.

To implement technologies within individuals, it is necessary to build up awareness and train people. The new technologies are going to stay. It is essential for people to start adapting to these technologies.

It will not only enhance them in the growth but will also keep their health data secured and optimised.

Technology has the potential to accelerate access, and enhance equity in coverage of health services by reaching the unreached. Technology interventions like IVRS and Telemedicine can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the healthcare value chain, shared Arun Kumar Singh, Additional Chief Secretary (H&FW), Government of Jharkhand. Further, technological advancements and adoption enable the expansion of transparency into every step of the medical life cycle for patients. It can help in bridging the gap, providing patients with straightforward and easy access to critical details and information from anywhere.

According to IBEF, the Indian healthcare enterprise accounting for 80 per cent of the total healthcare market is anticipated to touch US$132 billion by 2023. The healthcare market in India is expected to reach US$372 billion by 2022, driven by rising income, better health awareness, lifestyle diseases, and increasing access to insurance. As of 2021, the Indian healthcare sector is one of India’s largest employers as it employs a total of 4.7 million people.

In the Union Budget 2022-23, Rs. 86,200.65 crores (US$11.28 billion) was allocated to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW). The Indian government is intending to present a credit incentive programme worth Rs. 500 billion (US$6.8 billion) to boost the country’s healthcare infrastructure.

The government has taken several initiatives in strengthening the healthcare infrastructure. The Indian healthcare sector is expanding at a swift rate due to its strengthening range, benefits, and rising expenses by the public as well as private players. In the Economic Survey of 2022, India’s public expenditure on healthcare stood at 2.1 per cent of GDP in 2021-22 against 1.8 per cent in 2020-21 and 1.3 per cent in 2019- 20. The healthcare industry in India is highly varied, with numerous opportunities in each area, including providers, payers, and medical technology. Businesses are looking at the most significant characteristics and trends that will benefit their organisation in light of the growing competition. By 2025, the Indian government wants to increase public health spending to 2.5 per cent of GDP.

Digital technology delivers hope for improving and enhancing healthcare access and quality. It is crucial to comprehend that in India it still has a long way to go. The necessity to adopt technology to stay apt in the rapidly evolving healthcare scenario has become pertinent. Technology led innovations will be the fortress on which future healthcare will evolve. The global pandemic has accelerated tech adoption in the healthcare sector and carries the potential to recast unsustainable healthcare systems into sustainable ones. Technology will also demonstrate to be an enabler in providing cost-effective, quicker, and more effective solutions for diseases.

It is clearly evident that now is the time for healthcare technology organisations to invest in the real, long-lasting transformation that will benefit patients and providers across the country. The expansion of a mobile workforce combined with the continued acceptance of cutting-edge technologies will make the transformation possible. Looking ahead, it’s crucial that the healthcare sector stays focused on a single objective: ensuring that everyone has access to high quality, extremely affordable treatment, regardless of their personal circumstances.

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