It is time for the healthcare industry to embrace the hightech and deeptech technologies to bring in the much needed transformation and make way for disruption.
The last couple of years have seen massive disruption in the healthcare and healthcare technology space. As we inspect the recent occurrences in the healthcare ecosystem closely, we can derive that there are essentially four core aspects of healthcare - costs, quality, access and patient satisfaction. All of these aspects impact both the providers as well as the patients through their healthcare journeys. Each country develops their focal areas for their healthcare agendas based on the economic development in the respective countries. All these aspects need to work in tandem for the seamless functioning of an effective and efficient healthcare system.
We will explore each of these aspects to discern how we could find a solution that aids a determinative transformation of healthcare:
Quality of care: Statistics reveal that the global life expectancy has consistently increased in the past years, and stands at 73.3 years (2019) and the healthy life expectancy is at 63.7 years (2019) . Globally, the share of the population 65 years and above has increased from 6 per cent in 1990 to 9 per cent in 2019, estimating the number of older persons at 1.5 billion by 2050. As the age of the population increases, patients with chronic conditions tend to increase, this puts a lot of pressure on the healthcare systems to cater to the growing need for population health. Healthcare systems need to develop plans and team based care strategies where physicians and clinicians are focused on direct patient care as opposed to being burdened by the excessive administrative chores.
Cost of healthcare: The United Nations has set the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) as one of the targets globally during the United Nations General Assembly High Level Meeting on UHC in 2019. The UHC aims at providing health services to all individuals and communities without suffering financial hardship. The cost of healthcare is rising steadily across the world. In the US cost is the biggest issue currently. The cost of US healthcare has steadily increased from 6 per cent in 1970 to 18 per cent in 2018 relative to the GDP. Modern medicine and consumer behaviors have driven costs higher in a system focused on fee for service. Different strategies are in play with a move to value based care where physician practices take more financial risk to incent them to keep patients healthier. Higher costs are also reflective of the higher administrative costs that hospitals carry to run the healthcare services and there are many strategies in play from process re-engineering to specialists leveraging high-tech solutions, wearables and apps to manage chronically ill patient behaviors for better outcomes.
Access to healthcare: Number of persons per physician in the Americas is at a rate of 353 while in Europe is at 253 and in South East Asia at 1147, which also points at the disparity of quality of care that individual’s would receive depending on the geographic region they belong to. In many developing countries, like India, there is a stark difference in the access to healthcare one has in the urban settings versus in the rural geographies. A high functioning healthcare system would provide its population with coverage, services, timeliness and workforce to provide complete access to healthcare. The ongoing pandemic has caused a surge in telemedicine technologies and associated regulations to allow patients to reach physicians comfortably.
Patient satisfaction: Patient experience is a measure for how well a healthcare system operates from the first patient touchpoint to the value of care that the patient receives through their care lifecycle. These measure the points of interaction for the patients that are important to them as opposed to looking at only the final outcome of care delivered. Many countries are now focused on improving patient experience scores, which would also allow them to monitor care and move towards more patient-centered solutions. This also opens up avenues for healthcare organizations and providers to deliver a more authentic and customized experience for each patient. Understanding each patient’s need for specific conditions, historic data, reports and resources, is the key to improve patient experience. These can be achieved by adopting IoT, high tech and deeptech already available as part of many solutions.
Technology is enabling transformation for the entire globe - whether its precision medicine, genome sequencing, quality drugs and therapeutics, longer life spans and so on. The opportunities to transform healthcare from the very core right upto the consumer are innumerable. The time for all parties in the healthcare system to embrace the change is now.