Tech Edge to Healthcare

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In India, locally manufactured medical devices are helping increase general access to healthcare with screening and early detection. Through this prevention is achieved which further makes healthcare cost effective.

Technological advancements are slowly but steadily creating a mark in the healthcare industry. Mobile applications use the cloud to remotely keep tabs on patients, medical data can be used to leverage predictive analysis, and through these practices, there is a decreased chance of error due to optimised processes.

Smart Choices

The healthcare market in India is expected to growth at a CAGR of 22% and likely to touch $372 billion by year 2022. With the rampant increase in lifestyle conditions like diabetes, cholesterol, infertility, lack of Vitamin D etc. regular monitoring and changing your lifestyle in accordance with body parameters is very important. “Smartphone connected devices like Inito that enable users to test for your body parameters with lab grade accuracy and at a lower cost will play a very important role in managing chronic conditions. Moreover, being connected to the smartphone allows Inito to suggest personalized lifestyle changes based on the individual’s body parameters to lead a healthier and happier life,” says Aayush Rai, Co-Founder, Inito (a medical diagnostic firm based out of Bangalore). The Internet of Things (IoT) in healthcare has transformed the medical fraternity completely. It basically means the inter-networking of smart and physical devices implanted with software, sensors and electronics. For example, remote monitoring of patient’s health statistics, data analytics for doctors and patients, predictive device management and the like. Dr. Mousumi Ghosh, Founder Director of Team Future explains, “Clinical patient accessing solutions have proved to be a boon for healthcare industry. Various software applications have now streamlined patient referral process between doctors. The primary aim is to streamline communication between healthcare providers involved in patients care.”

Making the Difference

Tech innovations are dependent on one another for a smoother transition and implementation across the sector. Birth asphyxia or hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy (HIE) is one of the leading causes of neonatal mortality and morbidity in survivors in India. Until a few years ago we did not have answers to treat this condition. “Thanks to some of the largest multi-centric trials in the world, we now have a therapy called ‘therapeutic hypothermia’ where we cool the baby down to 33.5 deg C for three days and slowly rewarm over next 12 hours. This therapy is achieved using servo-controlled machines which maintains the temperature without fluctuations and has shown to reduce the mortality as well as gives better neurodevelopment outcome in the babies with moderate HIE. India has contributed a low-cost indigenously manufactured equipment using ‘phase-changing’ material, which does the similar job,” says Dr. Prathap Chandra, Consultant Chief Neonatologist and Pediatrician, Motherhood Hospitals, Bangalore. The combination of Ubiquitous computing (Connectivity and Computing available anytime and everywhere) and increased clinical accuracy of healthcare equipment is opening up exciting opportunities in healthcare. “The ability to provide constant clinical care at home for Elderly with co-morbid conditions within acceptable cost is a major opportunity.  Constant care can potentially avoid emergencies and in the case of emergency provide a baseline from which Clinicians can work off.  Additionally, analysis of the longitudinal data collected from the Patient will definitely drive strong actionable tasks specific to that Patient. The cost part will be affordable as the service is provided at home and the equipment used are available off the shelf,” opines Gowtham Jayaram, Chief Technology Officer, Nightingales Home Health Services, Bangalore.

Record Keeping

Electronic Health Record (EHR) for instance is a collection of multiple medical records that are generated during multiple clinical visits. Gauri Angrish, Founder & CEO, Caredose, New Delhi says, “the solution to our country’s healthcare woes and also broad-basing healthcare paradigm lies in simultaneously strengthening primary healthcare, as also secondary and tertiary system, and the role of health-tech startups in this cannot be underestimated right now. While in recent years private hospitals have simplified record keeping with the introduction of e-billing, and also revolutionized diagnostics with advanced tools and high-end equipment, there is a long way to go.” Juhi Bhandari, Assistant Director, Administration, P. D. Hinduja Hospital & MRC adds, “electronic Medical Record keeping is the trend of today which is easier for accessing medical records of patients but for those hospitals finding it difficult in shifting to electronic record, options like digitization are available.  Recently, the concept of using Digital pens that allow real time scanning of the record is a new innovation.  Records are now also available on the customized mobile app and TABs which allows easy access to the patient.”

Rural healthcare

Rural healthcare has long been affected by factors like affordability, accessibility, awareness and quality of healthcare services. “Other challenges that include are distribution and reach of medicines, skilled manpower to treat the patients and understand their needs, and the need to create awareness among rural consumers along with changing the mind-set of the rural people. With time, there has been a significant development in the rural healthcare model with technologies like Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and telemedicine playing a key role to reach out to wider geographical areas,” says V Thiyagarajan, MD, India Home Health Care. Telemedicine has been successfully able to combine state-of-the art electronics, ICT and other key communication applications to build awareness among patients and healthcare professionals. Amit Munjal Founder and CEO, Doctor Insta, Gurgaon says, “the telemedicine market in India is one of the most thriving markets. With growing linkages between internet and delivery of healthcare services, the concept of telemedicine has gained larger importance in working professionals in urban cities who have time shortage due to their busy professional life as well as in rural areas where the population is deprived of expert medical advice.” In India, healthcare investment trends have swayed from urban to rural inclusion with government initiatives like community health centers (CHCs) which are transforming the need for quality medicine being administered to the required patient even in remote areas. “Technology as acted a major catalyst in rehashing the roots of healthcare to segments of 3000-5000 population pockets. There is a lack in the national health insurance scheme in India; however, technology has enabled affordable medicine for all with quality health services being provided via nursing and medical staff that are trained on clinical needs of telemedication,” says Vandana Nanda, President Specialty Certified Medical Assistant (SCMA).

Tech Matters

According to a Garnter report, Indian healthcare providers are expected to spend around $1.2 billion on I.T products and services in the healthcare sector. Shitalkumar Joshi, Manager, Healthcare, ANSYS Inc., Pune explains, “new technology innovations are driven from P4 medicines, need for affordable treatment and in-silico evolution. P4 medicines means Predictive, Preventive, Participatory and Personalized medical treatment. This requires continuous monitoring of patients which is done through IoT enabled devices. Also treatment is customized specific to patients, which includes patient specific implants, devices and surgery. Medical research has entered the ‘in-silico’ era, where CM&S methodology will ensure high quality devices meeting the highest safety standards available at the lowest possible cost. This will help in achieving the dream of providing high quality healthcare to everyone on this planet.” One new innovation is cloud monitoring technology that is reducing the cost of healthcare through the proactive care approach. “This approach believes in the idea that prevention is better than cure and through this, patients are able to receive the same quality of care and monitoring without being in a critical condition or in the ICU ward. Added to this, is the fact that the expenditure of both the patient and the hospital is reduced due to quicker discharge of non-critical patients and space for critical patients. Problems with insufficient ICU beds and shortages of manpower to track and monitor patients are also resolved through continuous monitoring,” says Dinesh Seemakurty, Co-founder and CEO, Stasis Labs, Bengaluru.

Reaching Out

Rahul Bojalwar, CEO, Medipta Solutions Pvt. Ltd. Pune, says, India’s first ever ‘Air Dispensary’, which is based in a helicopter, will be launched in the Northeast and the Ministry of Development of Northeast Region (DONER) has already contributed Rs. 25 crore (US$ 3.82 million) for its funding. The Government of India aims to increase the total health expenditure to 2.5 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2025 from the current 1.15 per cent.” With increasing internet penetration, cloud connected devices and mobile apps can be set up in tier 2 and tier 3 cities effectively. However, once the technology reaches a mass scale, cutting edge products will be accessible to cost sensitive markets. “The most efficient and affordable way to do this is by building platforms that focus on preventive health, early diagnosis and platforms that connect people to doctors; thus improving healthcare delivery. Nowadays, we have data science and AI technology that reads medical records, predicts risks and provide timely recommendations on how to beat those risks. This helps people stay ahead of future illness, and live a long and healthy life,” says Kiran Kalakuntla, Founder and CEO, eKincare, Hyderabad. Bridging the gap between the quality of healthcare delivery between tier 1 cities and others by targeting various aspects is a key factor too. “We at Curofy are trying to redefine communication among doctors. With better communication, we believe we can bridge the serious shortage of doctors in the country. On the surface a social network, the advantages can be felt patients ultimately. And the best part, with smartphones being a household commodity, information and people are closer than ever. Geography can become irrelevant. Today we have more than 1/3 of our users from tier 3 and beyond,” says Nipun Goyal, Co-founder, Curofy. India is on a cusp of major healthcare transformation. Technology is bridging the gap and becoming an enabler between services and products. Increased awareness, availability, accessibility and affordability would reduce pressure on healthcare system and will have a positive impact on the economic and social structure of the country.

This story first appeared in Smartlife June 2019 issue here:

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