Is Technology Redefining The Healthcare Industry In India?
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It is not surprising to walk into a doctor’s office and be encountered with new-age record keeping and the most advanced of tools to match the changing scenario. The fast changing and advancing medical technology, availability of technologically advanced diagnostic and therapeutic equipment together with changing patterns of the doctors’ practice has brought in almost a revolution in the way healthcare is being delivered today.
This revolutionary change has also changed the way doctors and patients interact with each other, altering the nature of their relationship as well. Information technology coupled with a robust network is at the epicentre of this digital era in healthcare industry and today the human and digital aspects are both instrumental in quality experience for the patients.
Use of Technology to Maintain Patient Records
The healthcare industry is getting a lot more organized and becoming largely patient-centric, keeping their experience at the institution at the apex. As per recent research, India’s healthcare information technology market is expected to hit $1.45 billion in 2018, which is more than three times the figures in 2012 ($381.3 million).
Use of technology for maintaining patient records has come as a blessing especially in case of people suffering from rapidly progressive diseases where scans, test reports or any other parameters need to be compared frequently and the future plan of treatment depends on it.
Challenges of the Healthcare Sector
One of the key reasons of increased technological intervention in the healthcare sector is its ability to address multiple issues in the sector. Currently the ratio of doctors to patients in India stands at 1:1,700, which is considerably worse than the recommended 1:1000 set forth by World Health Organization. Apart from that, as per the figures by Union Health Ministry, there are about 6-6.5 lakh doctors in the country and by the year 2020 we would need another 4 lakh doctors.
Another challenge in the sector is inaccessibility of healthcare information to citizens or patients in particular who do not have a clear picture about the availability of beds, blood, drugs, and equipment.
There is a lack of an effective grievance redressal system which widens the gaps in the Indian healthcare scenario.
The traditional healthcare system relies heavily on paper-based record-keeping system, which leads to delay in accessing records, further delaying the diagnosis and impacting the quality of treatment delivered to the patients.
Technology is used to streamline processes and address the challenges of the traditional systems by bringing in revolutionary changes across all verticals and healthcare sector is definitely not an exception. Some of the technologies that would shape the future of healthcare industry in India may be defined as :
Smartphones have penetrated the Indian market extensively and has become accessible and affordable for the population at large. It is this device and allied technology that has made healthcare mobile and accessible to even the remote areas. The new age apps on the smartphones enable the doctors to deliver consultation, advice, and prescriptions online making healthcare available in time to anyone irrespective of their location.
Concepts like ePharmacy, eDiagnostics, eInsurance, eReferrals etc are helping strengthen the healthcare industry and creating an accessible pool of data or a centralized database which would ensure more efficient service delivery and reduction in the risk of medical errors.
For every industry that is digitally active, cloud storage has come as a boon and eased out all their storage worries. The doctors have started storing the patients’ records digitally and then move it to cloud for ease of access as and when required. The patients’ history is now available to the doctors at the touch of a screen.
4. Big Data Analytics
Predictive algorithms and big data analytics can help accurate diagnostics of patients. Telemedicine can become a reality with well designed solutions by building data repositories and using big data analytics to deliver rapid and accurate diagnostics to the patients.
In the past, healthcare industry in India saw little to no digital or technological disruption, but that trend is changing rapidly. The hesitation to allow digitisation of the healthcare sector is slowly dissolving providing a rich arena to the digital and technological innovative advancements.
There has been a rollout of numerous initiatives in the past where the implementation might have been incomplete or faulty, but the future of these looks bright and promising as the industry is more receptive to the changes and the investors are taking active interest too.