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The 12th Elets Healthcare Innovation Summit & Awards, held on 22nd February 2024 at The Lalit Ashok in Bengaluru, showcased the latest advancements and initiatives in the healthcare sector, with a special focus on Karnataka’s pioneering efforts in innovation and medical education. Organised by Elets Technomedia, with knowledge partner eHealth, the event brought together healthcare professionals, policymakers, industry leaders, and innovators to exchange ideas, share best practices, and recognize outstanding contributions to the field.

The discussion on revolutionising healthcare through digital initiatives in India was enriched by insights from key speakers in the government and healthcare sector. Taking place at a significant event focused on digital health advancements, the conversation aimed to shed light on the transformative steps being taken to integrate technology into healthcare services.

Participants were Himanshu Burad, Officer on Special Duty, ABDM National Health Authority, Government of India and B Sundar, IFS, Special Secretary, Information Technology Electronics and Communications Department, Government of Andhra Pradesh and the session was moderated by Dr. Asawari Savant, Sr. Sub Editor, Elets Technomedia.

On the advancing technologies for Indian Public Health, Mr. Himanshu Burad shared, “Initiatives such as Electronic Health Records (EHRs) adoption and telehealth consultations have reduced administrative costs by 30% and increased accessibility and patient satisfaction. Moreover, advancements in AI achieving up to 90% diagnostic accuracy in specific diseases and blockchain cutting data breaches by 40% were highlighted, showcasing significant efficiency gains and improvements in patient care and security facilitated by these digital initiatives”.

“eHealth encompasses the utilisation of computers, electronics, and telecommunication technologies for healthcare services. Despite increased life expectancy, lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure contribute to 60% of deaths. There’s vast potential in leveraging IT for ancillary healthcare services. Initially, our focus wasn’t on AI & ML; we began with basic technologies. We aimed to address accessibility issues, particularly for disadvantaged individuals like those earning minimum wages or with disabilities. For instance, we allocated significant government resources to display specialists’ availability schedules on electronic screens, enabling online booking for medical visits. It’s crucial for the state to understand these challenges and utilise resources effectively to enhance healthcare accessibility. Technology, particularly AI, holds promise in various applications such as predictive analysis through machine learning and many more”, shared Mr. B Sundar, during the discussion.

The key takeaways from the talk centred around the strides India has made in digital health, from policy formulation to the execution of nationwide digital health missions, and the pivotal role these initiatives play in improving healthcare accessibility, efficiency, and patient outcomes.

Some of the emerging themes during the discussion were:

1- National Digital Health Ecosystem:

  • Evolution from Policy to Action: The journey began with the National Health Policy in 2017, emphasising digital health, which led to the formulation of the National Digital Health Blueprint and the eventual rollout of the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM).
  • Impact of Digital Initiatives: Examples include the e-Sanjivini platform, delivering over 20 crore consultations, and the CoWIN platform, which managed over 200 crore vaccinations.
  • Creating Interoperability in Healthcare: Efforts are underway to develop a unified health interface, akin to the UPI for healthcare, facilitating seamless health data exchange and service delivery.

2- Digital Infrastructure and Privacy:

  • Building a Federated Architecture: The design ensures that healthcare data remains decentralised, bolstering data security and privacy.
  • Consent-Based Data Sharing: Data sharing across healthcare providers only occurs with explicit patient consent, aligning with India’s digital health mission and privacy laws.

3- Empowering Remote and Underserved Areas:

Overcoming Infrastructure Challenges: Strategies for enhancing telehealth accessibility in remote regions, including overcoming barriers like internet connectivity and ensuring data collection and sharing.

4- Future of Healthcare Technology:

Adoption of AI and IoT: The potential of artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things in transforming healthcare delivery, with examples from Andhra Pradesh’s innovative approaches to health data management and service provision.

The speakers highlighted the critical role of technological innovations in addressing current healthcare challenges, emphasising the need for continued collaboration between government, healthcare providers, and technology partners. They stressed the importance of embracing digital health solutions to enhance healthcare accessibility and efficiency, especially in remote and underserved areas.

The discussion underscored the significant progress and potential of digital health initiatives in revolutionising healthcare in India. The key message was clear: embracing digital transformation in healthcare is not just an option but a necessity for improving health outcomes and ensuring equitable access to healthcare services for all. Participants were encouraged to actively engage with and support these initiatives to realise their full potential.

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