The Indian healthcare sector majorly lags behind in terms of adoption of advanced technology. Several inadequacies plague the sector’s infrastructure such as restricted access, poor quality medical care, insufficient capacity, and less affordability for the poor population. As a result, majority citizens have to manage with less than average healthcare services.
The outbreak of the global pandemic has further exposed these gaps. There is a dire need of more investments to improve and enhance physical infrastructure like medical equipment, hospitals and clinics, and the capacity of the medical staff.
However, the situation is gradually changing. Post lockdown, digital technology is gaining prominence in the healthcare industry. Advanced digital tech has significantly disrupted medical care by changing the approach towards tackling the prevailing issues. Digital solutions can help create a comprehensive and well-integrated healthcare ecosystem pan India and support the patients in acquiring access to high-quality and cost-effective care.
Digital solutions to address healthcare challenges in India
Despite digitization making way into healthcare, there are certain challenges that continue to plague the sector. Some of the major shortcomings are:
1. Remote Access
As the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic led to minimal face-to-face human interaction, it became difficult for patients to visit their doctors. Thus, there was a need to devise ways to access medical care remotely. This is where telehealth and telemedicine come in. Telemedicine services ensure communication between patients and therapists from a distance, hence extending the healthcare services to a greater number of people. Developments in the telehealth have made healthcare affordable & accessible to all. According to a report by McKinsey, consumer adoption of telehealth rose from 11% in 2019 to 46% in 2020. Moreover, 76% of people say that they are more likely to avail telemedicine in the near future.
2. Early-Stage Disease Detection
Early and accurate diagnosis of health ailments is essential as that is what influences the efficiency of treatment to be given and prevents long-term complications for the patient. Factors like inadequate diagnostic processes, poor communication between medical practitioners & patients or their families, and weak health information systems can lead to serious diagnostic errors. Machine learning (ML) algorithms can offer a sophisticated and automatic method for analysing multi-dimensional biomedical data which in turn can expedite and significantly improve medical diagnostics.
There are helpful devices in the market like Kribado which is a hand-held non-invasive screening device that assists healthcare practitioners in treating patients by implementing a pre-admission level. The device right-away analyses the patient condition and provides a risk score while the patient is in the waiting room. Clinics as well as hospitals are using this screening machine to triage the patients to the relevant procedures or treatments by early identification of risk as well as the degree of risk.
3. Online Patient Education
Patient education is sharing medical information with patients to make them aware of their own health condition which is an essential part of patient care. Medical apps that educate patients about drugs, diseases, treatments and testing services have come up to ensure seamless online education of patients. Also, digital devices like Kanopi, which is an easy-to-use Wi-Fi enabled patient education device designed to send customized high quality educational video, audio, images & text to the patients, make it easier for doctors to explain or educate the patients.
4. Solving Personalised Patient Queries
Due to COVID-19, some medical organizations witnessed a spike in user requests for support & information. As the number of queries increased, the healthcare companies received thousands of calls and emails every day. Providing personalized response manually to each one of them is a task. Incorporating an artificial intelligence based chatbot into the system can enhance customer service and automate request processing.
With the adoption of Electronic Health Record (EHR) technology, interoperability is proving to be a challenge. Patient identification isn't standardized, making it impossible to match a person with their records. Nearly anyone can input information into a patient's EHR, but withdrawing data is still not easy. An effective solution here will be to implement cloud-based EHRs, which centralize the database while still providing the necessary security.
In future, an amalgamation of digital and medical care services will provide an extensive personalised healthcare approach that will empower individuals to make informed decisions. These changes have the potential to lead to superior health care, improved customer satisfaction, and cost-effectiveness.