In 2018, the Indian healthcare industry was valued at INR 116.61 billion and, it is projected to reach INR 485.43 billion by 2024.
These figures provide a good estimate of the size of this much-neglected industry. But does the size of the industry translate to quality of care as well? Or does our country need a digital transformation to tap into its maximum potential and offer quality healthcare to all its citizens?
India Needs A Digital Revolution In Healthcare: Here’s Why
The steady expansion of the ageing population and increasing prevalence of chronic diseases calls for a digital revolution in our country’s healthcare industry to meet the rising healthcare needs of its citizens. Here are all the reasons why a digital intervention is necessary:
The elderly tend to require more attention and on-going care than their younger counterparts. Digital technologies like wearable technology and monitors will help the aged population maintain good health by providing them with deeper insights into their health metrics and the ability to decide when medical assistance is required.
Lack Of Healthcare Facilities In Rural Areas
Rural areas in India have the majority of the country’s population. Yet, most parts of rural India lack essential healthcare amenities and infrastructure that are prerequisite of a good healthcare system.
Bridging the rural-urban divide of healthcare is the need of the hour as it directly translates to the welfare of a large fraction of the population that resides in rural areas.
In such a scenario, telemedicine will improve connectivity and can help the rural population get in touch with the best doctors and surgeons in the country. Even better, it makes treatments more cost-effective.
India greatly lags behind when it comes to meeting the minimum requirements of the workforce in the healthcare sector as laid down by WHO.
The advent of advanced digital technologies like robotics in the healthcare system will help bridge the workforce gap by automating certain tasks such as surgeries, paperwork, etc. Additionally, it will also ensure speedy care deliverance, improved quality of care and improved regulatory compliance as all steps are tracked and documented.
Disease Burden Shift Management
Currently, the Indian healthcare system lacks a centralized and integrated system for storing medical records of patients. Hospitals and healthcare providers store most patient data and information on paper. This outdated method is cumbersome, inefficient and time-consuming.
Investing in a centralized system of storing population health metrics will help healthcare providers immediately identify patient groups that require care. Furthermore, EMRs and other digital analytics tools help store valuable patient data and provide faster, holistic, and accurate treatment by eliminating unnecessary paperwork and tests.
Getting Ready For The Digital Era
The digital transformation of the Indian healthcare system has already begun. The government is promoting digitization with initiatives like the National Digital Health Mission. The three digital technology segments that are transforming the Indian healthcare industry are:
- M-Health — Short for Mobile Health, M-Health refers to the practice of medicine and healthcare through mobile devices, PDAs, tablets, and computers. It involves functions like disease surveillance, tracking epidemic outbreaks, enabling remote exams, and delivering information to doctors on portable devices. Thanks to the widespread accessibility to mobile technology in developing nations, the M-Health field is witnessing exponential growth.
- Remote Monitoring — Remote patient monitoring or RPM uses digital technologies to monitor the health of patients outside healthcare centres or collect medical/ health data from individuals in one location and electronically transmit it to health care providers in a different location for analysis.
- Telemedicine — Telemedicine involves caring for patients remotely when the provider and patient are not physically present in the same location. It is a tool that makes healthcare more accessible, cost-effective, and that increases patient engagement through virtually remote diagnosis, consultation, and health monitoring without requiring the patients to come in for an in-house visit.
The Future Of Indian Healthcare Ecosystem
The digital transformation of the Indian healthcare industry is already underway but it does need a lot of strategizing and planning. The healthcare industry will have to embrace open systems that allow for refined analysis of various streams of data while offering customer-centric services.
The winners in the Indian healthcare industry will be those who are quick on their feet to initiate the changes and invest in early promising technologies. Healthcare organizations should embrace new development and operating models and rely on more data-driven strategies to keep pace with changes in the marketplace. This will help them execute their transformation programmes successfully to craft better patient outcomes and add more value to stakeholders.