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Women: The Future of A Tech-Driven Healthcare Industry In India Using technology to engage more and more women in the industry is the way ahead

By Agamoni Ghosh

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Healthcare has become one of India's largest sectors both in terms of revenue & employment, with the industry growing at a tremendous pace owing to its strengthening coverage. A study by Deloitte indicates the size of the industry will reach $280 bn by 2020.

Despite this growth, access to affordable healthcare amidst the rise in communicable diseases and a spurt in non-communicable or "lifestyle" diseases, poses a great challenge. India has a ratio of 0.7 doctors and 1.5 nurses per 1,000 people compared to the WHO's ideal average of 2.5 doctors and nurses per 1,000 people, which has resulted in the industry filing to effectively serve its 1.3 billion population.

Dr Devi Shetty, the world-renowned heart surgeon, who many refer to as God for his pioneering venture of Narayana Hrudalya hospitals, that serve people from all strata of society, has a futuristic yet inclusive solution for the industry. Its adaption of technology not just for medical procedures but for the ecosystem as a whole and using that technology to engage more and more women in the industry to fulfill the skill gap in supplying the adequate number of health care professionals, like nurses, medical laboratory professionals, nurses, paramedics as well technologists

"Technology will transform and bring women to the active healthcare services sector and millions of job opportunities can be created through such technology," he said at a NITI Ayog organized event in Bengaluru recently.

Remote Health Monitoring

One of the biggest challenges the Indian healthcare industry faces is reaching out to the patient, or the patient being able to access an affordable medical centre within their reach. While for critical illness and surgical procedures physical access to patients is still the way to go, Shetty feels the bulk of everyday diseases and regular health checks can be conducted remotely.

"The aim is to get every person past the age of 30 to have their medical records on phone, which should become conduit of medical delivery, in the years to come," he said.

To use this remote technology, he feels women, especially those not having collegiate or higher education should be employed, by skilling them with the right computational skills to operate such technology. The healthcare veteran says he has plans to develop a rail network model based on the remote diagnosis mechanism, for which he has had discussions with the rail ministry to deploy skilled healthcare professionals in as many stations possible in India.

"The idea is to not have any area not covered by a healthcare professional, as filling the doctor to patient ratio is going to take its time, until which we should be able to depend on technology to take precautionary measures," he said.

Voicing a similar trend, Sunita Maheshwari, a paediatric cardiologist, and the founder of Teleradio systems, who has invited to meet former US President Barack Obama for innovations in health-tech feels much of the healthcare revolution has already started, and women are contributing significantly to the same everyday.

"It's unfortunate that a large part of qualified healthcare professionals who are women have had to give up on their practice or work due to personal obligations, mostly related to child-care. That talent can now be tapped upon with the help of technology, and women sitting at home or remote locations can become an active part of this industry with the right moves.

Adopting the No Capital Model

The last decade has seen some revolutionary ideas in terms of businesses, where without any significant capital investments, companies have been able to create billion dollars valuations and industries that never existed before.

"Uber, Facebook, Alibaba, Airbnb are all shining example of ventures that have no or minimum capital creation of their own, and yet are serving billions, thanks to the technology. I see healthcare heading in a similar direction where technology and software will drive the industry," concludes Dr Shetty.

Agamoni Ghosh

Former Staff, Entrepreneur India

She was generating stories out of Bengaluru for Entrepreneur India. She has worked with leading national and international business publications, including Newsweek, Business Standard, and CNBC in the past. 

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