The global healthcare system is under unprecedented stress amid the Coronavirus pandemic. Some expect the world to witness more outbreaks owing to climate change, which creates an environment more hospitable for viruses and bacteria. It is, therefore, inevitable that there will be an immense burden on healthcare resources, leading to an urgency for the development of health-tech tools for efficient delivery of healthcare.
Technological innovations such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Internet of Things (IoT), big data, and 3D printing are not only paving the way for Industry 4.0 but also bringing about fundamental changes in the healthcare sector. The generation of vast amounts of medical data, coupled with the insights derived through predictive analytics, and mHealth (using mobile devices and other wireless devices) tools and health wearables are rapidly changing the healthcare industry across the globe.
The Indian healthcare sector is considered a key pillar in boosting the growth of the Indian economy. And as the number of mobile internet users in India rises to the expected 800 million by 2023, it offers a tremendous opportunity for the healthcare industry to address the accessibility challenge. Integrating data with healthcare delivery can lead to providing effective healthcare delivery along with generating valuable insights for the business.
The virtualisation of healthcare, which allows for cutting down of infrastructure costs, is made possible by technological breakthroughs. It is erasing boundaries and enabling care through mHealth devices. Technological advancements are also changing the dynamics of the delivery of health services and can minimise the health divide between urban and rural citizens of India.
Smartphone adoption and improved internet connectivity have infact led to the rapid expansion of the mHealth services market in India. Patients now avail of medical services, diagnostics, and preventive care measures using mobile apps that connect patients with doctors at the click of a button. This eventually reduces the time spent in-clinic and money spent in-transit.
There is also increasing usage of technology in point and care diagnostic devices to provide a quick diagnosis. Innovative ideas such as smart bandages, 3D printers for organs, bluetooth enabled inhalers, etc. are some of the prime examples of the application of technology in the medical devices segment.
The National Health Policy (NHP) 2017 has specified goals for the adoption of digital technologies in healthcare namely, interoperable Electronic Health Record (EHR), creation of district-level electronic databases, registries of all diseases of public importance, and linking systems across health providers to envisage a health eco-system as a Federal National Health Information Architecture. There is a plan to have digital health records for all Indian citizens by 2022 which will further facilitate telemedicine and e-health.
The healthcare industry in India is projected to reach $372 billion by 2022. The private players in the healthcare industry are the major drivers of the adoption of technology in healthcare. Hospitals across India are using or planning to use cost-effective cloud-based solutions to modernise their existing IT infrastructure and leveraging the cloud for health management information systems (HMIS) and electronic medical records (EMRs).
CII has been working very closely with the healthcare industry and has been promoting technology in healthcare to make India a health-tech hub.
The integration of technology with healthcare will lead to better delivery of healthcare services across the globe.