By Runam Mehta
New Delhi: India’s healthcare landscape has undergone a major transformation in the last three years. Technology has transformed the way this industry interacts with its consumers and disrupted numerous existing models. Apart from private entities and healthcare startups that emerged as problem solvers in the face of the exigency, the government provided ample backing in the form of initiatives like the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) fuelling the transition further. It has also put renewed focus on achieving universal health care through Ayushman Bharat, digitizing health records, and Mission Indradhanush. India’s healthcare system is going to be largely defined by technological advancements and digital care. Given this context, significant aspects of Medical Affairs need to be reformed to maximize the impact of medical activities.
The much-needed push
India eradicated polio years ago by launching an aggressive polio immunization campaign; and once again, India has created history by delivering two billion COVID vaccines within a very short timeframe. Similarly, the country also has the capability to lead the development of quality healthcare at scale and therefore revolutionize this segment for the world.
If 2022 was high on intent, 2023 will prove to be the year of action. In the year ahead, stalwarts in the healthcare industry will need to execute the plans outlined recently. There is an overwhelming need to embrace the power of digital healthcare. Healthtech start-ups today are bringing a deep domain understanding of the challenges to access and affordability to innovate and create new business models and partnerships.
This is where we look forward with a renewed focus, on digital platforms and emerging technologies with the idea of bringing the best quality, affordable preventive healthcare in rural and semi-urban areas. We anticipate increased investment in public-private partnerships. The convergence of different healthcare segments will enable the creation of a patient-centric model which is preventive and not curative. This will also push traditional health institutions to explore newer care models such as point-of-care diagnostics in rural areas.
The role of technology – a bolder vision
As per a survey conducted by McKinsey & Company, approximately 90 per cent of health executives believe that organizations need to elevate their relationships with customers as partners to compete in a post-digital world. This is where technology will become the panacea in terms of providing the easiest solutions and ensuring patient-centric care.
Technologies such as remote monitoring, AI and ML, data analytics, and point-of-care diagnostics will make more headway. To achieve this, the industry needs to undergo a significant transformation over the next five to ten years. -India needs more sustainable public-private partnerships that leverage the know-how and innovation from the private sector and the reach and distribution of the public sector to multiply impact. For instance, with point-of-care diagnostics, it is possible to reach out to remote areas and test for several health markers and vitals at once to diagnose underlying health conditions like heart disease. This will ensure that people do not have to travel large distances for basic health check-ups.
The way forward
The Make in India movement started by the government has been a landmark moment in the country’s history. Going digital in healthcare, as with other industries, was always on the agenda and is already panning out well. We are also inching towards achieving self-reliance in diagnostics provided there is an adequate policy-level impetus on this front as well. Healthtech players are bringing in solutions like point-of-care diagnostics. Leveraging digital systems can aid in better decision-making by improving manual interpretation and reducing the chances of errors is important. This can be done by optimizing financial incentives for domestic players to innovate and undertake further research and development. This will be the way forward in reimagining India’s healthcare landscape.
Runam Mehta, CEO, HealthCube
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