Technology andhealthcare has always been a “cat and mouse” game. It has been observed that healthcare providers have generally been less open to adopt to technology and technology solution providers are not able to give the right solutions to doctors. Although if the two work together, it’s an entirely different ball-game.
Which patient wouldn’t like to consult a doctor at the click of the button without spending time in the waiting area? Which doctor wouldn’t like to broaden their spheres and consult patients anywhere in the world? Theoretically, technology can do a lot in the healthcare space but the space is sensitive, built on trust and personal touch and prone for a lot of legal liabilities.
So, as technologists are building solutions for doctors, they need to keep these factors in mind. As we progress towards 2050, solutions in the healthcare space which are transparent, efficient, trustworthy, high on quality content will stand the test of time. India is rapidly progressing in that direction. At the click of a button, we are getting connected to online health apps which map how many calories you burn. At the click of a button, we are connected to advanced search engines which will guide a patient towards the appropriate specialty doctor. Patients can order medicines online, see their reports, ask for home visits and probably much more.
But technology to make a meaningful impact in the healthcare space has to do much more than this. These are all ancillary tools which inspire our healthcare entrepreneurs but real value building will start when we scratching two important surfaces: Healthcare ecosystems and Data generation, analysis and effective execution.
Developed nations have understood the importance of these two parameters way back and it’s not surprising, that many nations have made electronic health records (EHR)s and electronic medical records (EMR) mandatory. These nations chose to invest in them, although in the short term, these systems faced a lot of resistance due to cost, implementation and other issues.
India, as a country is slowly catching that path as by 2050, we will be facing an entirely different demographic and epidemiological profile. India’s population is expected to shoot up to being about 1.7 billion in 2050 with majority of people falling under the working age group of 15 to 64 years. The percentage of senior citizens is expected to escalate by 14 percent thus emphasizing on the development of geriatric health care specialized services like dietary services, dementia and home care services. Infectious illnesses will go down dramatically and replaced by chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart ailments, etc.
So, for rapid traction in this space our healthcare entrepreneur community needs to focus on primarily two things:
• Creating healthy ecosystems
• Data analysis and implementation
Healthcare ecosystems: Unlike other startups which are usually vertical in nature, healthcare startups, are usually broader in nature. If they focus on creating meaningful solutions to all partners in a particular space, then only will they be able to create an impact. It’s like an icing on the cake, if they understand the knack of clubbing knowledge with technology. Healthcare highly depends on content to be credible and successful. And content in healthcare has to be scientifically correct without being too overwhelming or confusing. So, getting right and highly skilled doctors on board along with technologists is paramount to create an efficient healthy ecosystem.
Data generation, analysis and effective execution:
India, as a nation is rich with data. Imagine what can happen when all doctors in the country start creating EHRs. Huge clinical data will be generated which will help of the following:
• detect disease outbreaks in the infantile stages
• enforce standard guidelines
• put up efficient referral systems
• track critically ill patients and redirect resources accordingly
• track clinical outcomes of drugs
• prevent abuse and misuse of antibiotics
This requires vision, huge teamwork and a lot of Government policy decisions. This further calls for all the clinicians, medical researchers, coders, data scientists, technologists with experience in artificial intelligence and machine learning to work together. The government healthcare spending will reduce and become much more efficient. Although we are trying to take giant steps in technology innovations like mobile healthcare devices, telemedicine strategies, etc. focusing more on concept innovations and understanding what will work better in the Indian scenario is surely going to shower us with the benefits of online healthcare for the coming years.
Huge data will help our doctors to build algorithms to help in their day-to-day practice. The doctor presently uses his/her clinical skills to come to a diagnosis, supported by laboratory tests. Data will be able to predict simple things like a patient coming to a doctor in the month of April with fever will respond to which drugs to complicated stuff like which aneurysm in the brain is likely to bleed. Nevertheless, technology as a tool will prove to be helpful only when doctors are a part of it.
Technology cannot replace the role of history taking and clinical examination to come to a diagnosis. But it will help doctors by adding another dimension in treating their patients, precision.
To sum it up, the wave of healthcare inventions in the future all narrows down to one principle “Keep it simple”. Focus on these two parameters, create value and then all your effective innovations will follow. India will be able to become a power hub in technology and healthcare as data driven technology will create artificial intelligence which will help robots to assist more effectively in surgeries, drones to monitor epidemics, drug delivery devices to deliver minimum dose possible for effective cure and so on. And why not, we have one of the most intelligent bench strength that any country would envy waiting on the sidelines.