According to an Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and Praxis report, the Indian Healthtech industry is expected to reach USD 5 billion by 2023 at the compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 39 per cent.
In today’s rapidly changing healthcare landscape, the need for fast, digital transformation is crucial in driving operational efficiencies, clinical care delivery and enhancing patient care while keeping costs at an optimal level . The current pandemic has pushed the Digital transformation as a top priority for healthcare establishments to the next level, to have executed a full digital strategy to enable safety , next generation care and outcomes
In the current era Digital Health transformation has been seen across the healthcare ecosystem and fostering innovations across the healthcare value-chain be it patients inside and outside of the hospital or at the clinician office. The HealthTech ecosystem that drives the care delivery are HIS, EMR, LIS , RIS more recently e-pharmacy, e-diagnostics, teleconsultation, B2B HealthTech, B2B medical supplies, and other healthcare solutions like personal health management and online home healthcare.
We are seeing the adoption of the Cloud, Analytics, AI, ML, Robotics, IoT, Automation, Blockchain, AR/VR, 3D Bioprinting, etc. to improve access and quality of their services delivery.
While the Covid-19 pandemic has placed unprecedented demands on the global healthcare sector, it also helped accelerate innovation in the industry. With international collaboration to fight the pandemic, healthcare innovations that would have traditionally taken years took just weeks or days. We made many advancements in the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) which has improved the healthcare systems and delivery. We are also seeing the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), a connected infrastructure of medical devices, software applications, and health systems and services that allows real-time monitoring and notification, play a significant role in personalized healthcare.
It is a new era in the Healthtech industry — a time of intelligent healthcare. According to an Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and Praxis report, the Indian Healthtech industry is expected to reach USD 5 billion by 2023 at the compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 39 per cent. With healthcare poised for a big jump, let us outline the key technologies that can help transform India’s healthcare for the better.
Virtual care bridges the gap
Virtual care has gained prominence, especially during the lockdowns, where in-person interactions were not possible. With digital and remote consultations, patients could get required care “virtually” using communication technologies such as telemedicine and video consultations. With promising future ahead, reports have projected that the Indian telemedicine market is expected to touch USD 5.4 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 31 per cent.
To assist in virtual care that bridges accessibility gap in healthcare, IoMT is a critical technology that can assist medical personnel by remotely monitoring patients. There have been many innovations in this space not only by enabling the on demand healthcare but also remote consultation care delivery by use of connected medical devices. Hitachi, for instance, is working on multiple Digital Health engagements that will not only augment India’s IoMT capabilities but also deliver care at remotest of the location.
Next-gen tech streamlines operations
The advances in artificial intelligence (AI) have revolutionized the healthcare sector, with intelligent AI programs having been applied to clinical practice including making diagnoses, developing personalized treatment and drugs, assisting in patient monitoring, automating administrative tasks and reducing operational costs. The use of AI and machine learning techniques in the ever-increasing quantity of healthcare data presents a variety of opportunities, but also a number of challenges like limited interpretability, privacy and security issues and the lack of data standardization. Many health-tech providers are using next gen technology such as radiation-free, non-invasive methods of thermal imaging to detect early-stage diseases such as breast cancer.
AI and ML also improve healthcare delivery and customer experience. Technologies such as Image-guided surgery and AI-assisted robotic surgery have seen advancements due to AI and ML. Hospitals are also using chatbots to do the initial screening of patients, collect preliminary information and schedule appointments with the doctor. ML plays an important role in streamlining hospital administrative operations and workflows by maintaining documents, storing health records and processing insurance claims. It assists hospitals in optimising their resources, such as the availability of beds.
Hence, AI and ML applications collect accurate data and reduce turn-around time making healthcare delivery efficient and smoother.
Northern Care Alliance NHS Group and Hitachi have a partnership to deliver the UK’s first fully integrated digital transformation of care processes. Known as the Digital Control Centre, the project will revolutionise the organisation of care across its acute and integrated services. It will build on Salford’s existing digital excellence to utilise advanced analytics and the Internet of Things to support staff in making the best of their talents and the resources they have.
Personalised health planning enhances patient care
The applications of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in healthcare are endless. When researchers, doctors and scientists are able to leverage the vast amount of patient data they have through AI they create exponential improvements in diagnosis and personalised treatment/outcomes.
Today AI is already being used in many areas of Health from Drug discovery to Clinical Trials to Improving patient outcomes.
There is a colossal amount of healthcare-related data churned out every year – patient history, test results, latest research and more. Using natural language processing, AI can sift through these documents, analyse large data sets and accurately chart a patient’s treatment options and possible outcomes. AI can also predict a patient’s chances of having certain diseases based on specific genetic and environmental markers. This in-depth understanding gives early warning to medical professionals, even before diseases show symptoms. Evaluating patients for the risk of disease will be revolutionary for healthcare and save the lives of many.
Precision medicine aids in the development of personalised treatment plans for each patient based on their unique genetic, environmental, and behavioural conditions. For this, cloud-based digital solutions are important. One such example is The American Heart Association’s Precision Medicine Platform (Hitachi Vantara provided a foundation for AHA’s platform) which provides doctors, physicians, and researchers with access to data about cardiovascular and stroke, helping them improve the care of those at risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Such platforms also reduce the cost of healthcare delivery as they harness the potential of technology.
Reimagining Indian healthcare in the new normal
With over 1.3 billion people, India’s healthcare system caters to one of the largest populations in the world. The doctor to patient ratio is also skewed with one doctor for at least 1,511 people, much higher than WHO’s norm of one doctor for every 1,000 people. This is where Healthtech can step in to reduce the load and improve the quality. We have already seen the digital health market grew due to COVID-19, so the stage is set. We just need to keep this momentum going and adapt to the new norm of care collaboration. With this intelligent healthcare model, doctors can make accurate and timely decisions about diagnosis and treatment methods for patients, irrespective of their geographical location. Healthtech has the ability to transform India’s health industry post COVID-19 and the lay the foundation of a new-age of healthcare for all.
India needs to focus on three key areas- building digital health infrastructure, e-governance, and skilling/public awareness, advised Shishir Kumar, of Hitachi Vantara India. But most importantly, it requires more active collaboration and partnership between patients, healthcare providers and facilities, pharma, academia, MedTech manufacturers and HealthTech providers to drive more tangible reforms and sustainable development in healthcare with Health technologies.