The healthcare sector in India is growing at a tremendous pace, with the industry poised to touch $280 billion by the end of 2020. Health care is one of India’s largest sectors and has contributed to the nation’s revenue through proliferating doctors, hospitals, clinics, labs, medical tourism, and employment opportunities.
Technology can fundamentally shift the manner in which health care is delivered and accessed in India by making it more convenient, efficient and affordable for the masses. No wonder, multiple stakeholders are eager to embrace strategies that can reshape the healthcare landscape in India.
However, the road to technology adoption in the Indian healthcare sector is not devoid of hurdles, with the majority of hospitals planning less than 10% of their annual budget for IT initiatives. This needs to change.
Here are five ways to change the face of the Indian healthcare sector to make it more tech-savvy and offer improved medical facilities to every citizen of this country.
Though the Indian healthcare sector is brimming with opportunities, the Indian government spends merely 30% of its total health care budget on primary health care. The health care system in India comprises of the public sector and the private sector, with the latter largely responsible for driving the adoption of new technology in the country.
Quite a few government health insurance and care programs exist, yet a dearth of these initiatives for rural and below-poverty-line citizens leads to inefficient and expensive medical facilities for these strata.
Technology can help make health care cheaper. The Indian government can open dialogues with and engage private sector stakeholders in overcoming the common challenges faced by health care consumers.
Moreover, the public health care policies and projects introduced by the regulatory authorities can be made more efficient and cheaper if digital technologies are applied to them.
Tech-savvy doctors can change the healthcare sector as they are the trendsetters in this segment. Patients and caregivers trust their opinions for the best care and advice. Moreover, pharmaceuticals, medical devices companies, and other healthcare professionals customise their products, services and marketing strategies to suit the doctors’ requirements.
Indian doctors must use technology and stay up-to-date with the latest trends, mobile applications, and gadgets to improve patients’ overall healthcare experience.
Managing a vast patient data system can be made easy using electronic health record (EHR) that gives doctors access to their patients’ medical history.
Over 60% of the Indian population lives in villages with limited access to hospitals, qualified doctors, and healthcare facilities. Telemedicine can offer long-distance and quality health education and real-time consultation at a reasonable cost to people in different regions.
With increasing smartphone penetration in India, WhatsApp, text messages, apps, and emails can be used by physicians and patients for consultation. Online bank transfer or mobile wallets can be employed to pay for availing the various health care services.
Medical gadgets like infrared thermometers and digital stethoscopes can accurately determine the health of the patient within a few seconds.
Healthcare mobile applications like Practo help doctors grow their digital presence, connect with patients and manage their schedule effectively. PEPID offers continuing medical education to doctors and keeps them updated on the various disease conditions and their management.
Once doctors are convinced about going the digital way, the entire industry will follow suit. When they mentor healthcare start-ups, they learn how technology can help them offer the best care to their patients. In return, health care start-ups get insights related to the field and can innovate to offer better tech-savvy healthcare solutions.
Healthcare is an incredibly personal affair, and hence, doctors and patients do not want to compromise on their privacy. Trust is the most important factor that influences technology adoption in the healthcare sector. Start-ups introducing products, applications, and software must guarantee their customers that their personal information will be secure.
Start-ups should work in close collaboration with doctors, involve them in their marketing campaigns, and modify their products and services to meet customer requirements. Physicians help validate the relevance of any technology to the healthcare segment, leading to an increased use of such digital applications and services.
Patients trust their doctors’ opinions when it comes to using health-tech products or services. Being new to the latest healthcare technology, patients can be apprehensive about using the application, confidentiality of their data, and technical failures. These factors can prove to be significant barriers to the large-scale adoption of new healthcare technology. Therefore, efforts must be made to ease their anxieties and to enable them to adjust to this change.
Patients should be educated on how technology can make their lives easier and reduce their overall health care costs. For instance, a patient with diabetes can benefit from a mobile application that offers round-the-clock monitoring of their glucose levels, is easy-to-carry, and offers accurate and quick results.
Similarly, a patient suffering from early stages of dementia will benefit from a device/mobile application that reminds their to take the prescribed medications on time and schedule timely doctor appointments.
Pharmaceutical and healthcare companies inform and educate doctors about the latest research and advances in the fields of medicine and health. To drive the tech-savvy trend in the healthcare sector, these organisations must dump old ways of promoting their products and use technology to address larger issues like medication non-adherence and create awareness of diseases.
Pharmaceutical firms can embrace digital health tools in combination with the medications they market to offer better healthcare solutions to the common man. For instance, a host of medical devices like insertable heart monitor, pacemakers and defibrillators can make life comfortable for a patient with cardiovascular disease.
Novartis is working on developing a digital device-drug combination for patients with angina. The device will monitor the patients’ condition and offer early intervention by administrating the heart-failure medication to avoid anxiety and increased emergency-care expenses.
The ways mentioned above to make the Indian healthcare sector more tech-savvy can not only change the way healthcare is delivered, but also make health care convenient and affordable for everyone. Embracing technological advances in this field will offer innovative solutions for current and future healthcare issues.