By Dr Alexander Kuruvilla
The healthcare industry has witnessed remarkable progress in delivering quality patient care and safety in recent decades. The COVID-19 pandemic has catalysed the industry to push the boundaries of innovation and reimagine healthcare delivery.
Health tech, the convergence of health and technology, has been one of the most transformative outcomes of this paradigm shift, enabling increased efficiency, accessibility, and affordability of healthcare services.
However, health tech is only beginning to scratch the surface of its potential.
So, here are five top problems that health tech can successfully solve and improve efficiency in the current system:
1. Managing India’s Disease Burden
According to the World Health Organisation, India accounts for approximately 80 per cent of deaths due to chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, etc. Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) account for 60 per cent of all deaths in India and are responsible for a significant loss of productivity and economic development. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in India, followed by diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases.
However, with the help of health tech, this problem can be better managed. Health tech can aid in the early detection, prevention, and management of chronic diseases through wearable technology, telemedicine, and artificial intelligence-based platforms.
While wearable technology like fitness trackers and smartwatches, can track vital signs -heart rate and blood pressure- and provide valuable insights into an individual’s health, telemedicine has proved its merit by allowing patients to consult doctors remotely and at odd hours, making healthcare accessible and affordable.
Additionally, artificial intelligence-based platforms can analyse large volumes of data to identify patterns and predict health risks, allowing for personalised and proactive healthcare.
2. Addressing India’s doctor-patient ratio
India has a severe shortage of doctors, with only one doctor for every 1,457 people, according to the National Health Profile 2019. According to the World Health Organisation, India has a shortage of around 8 lakh doctors. This shortage is compounded by a lack of distribution of healthcare professionals, with a large proportion of them concentrated in urban areas only.
Health tech can address this issue by providing access to healthcare services remotely through telemedicine, digital consultations, mobile healthcare (mHealth), and chatbots. Additionally, AI and machine learning can be used to improve the diagnostic capabilities of non-specialist healthcare workers, allowing them to provide higher-quality care with fewer resources.
3. Prevention of Medical Negligence:
Medical negligence is quite a prevalent problem in India, leading to various adverse outcomes for patients. Health tech can help prevent medical negligence by improving communication and coordination between healthcare providers and patients.
- Electronic health records (EHRs): EHRs can help prevent medical negligence by providing doctors and healthcare providers with real-time access to a patient’s accurate and up-to-date medical history, including previous diagnosis, medications, and test results. This will reduce the likelihood of misdiagnosis or medication errors, such as prescribing contraindicated medications or overlooking important health conditions.
- Clinical decision support systems (CDSSs): CDSSs use algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI) to analyse patient data and provide doctors with evidence-based treatment recommendations. This can help prevent medical negligence by reducing the likelihood of misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment.
- Remote monitoring: Telemedicine and technologies that allow remote monitoring, such as wearable devices, can be used to monitor patients with chronic conditions and alert healthcare providers to potential complications. This can help prevent medical negligence by ensuring that patients receive timely and appropriate care.
- Medication management: Technologies, such as barcode scanning and automated dispensing systems, can help prevent medication errors by ensuring that patients receive the correct medication in the correct dosage.
- Audit and feedback systems: This helps in tracking and evaluating healthcare providers’ performance while highlighting areas for improvement. Such technology can help prevent medical negligence by identifying and addressing patterns of suboptimal care.
By enabling data analytics, risk assessment, remote monitoring, and fraud detection, health tech has the potential to revolutionise the insurance industry. The introduction of new technologies will help insurance providers improve their services, reduce costs, and provide more personalised coverage for their customers.
For instance, insurers can encourage patients to use telemedicine to provide virtual consultations, or use wearable devices to monitor customers’ health and reward them for healthy behaviours. And using predictive analytics to analyse data on customers’ health and lifestyle habits, thereby enabling them to identify potential health risks and adjust premiums, accordingly, is also a big advantage to leverage. Aided by artificial intelligence, insurers can also automate claim processing, which will reduce errors and increase efficiency.
The fact remains that health tech will have a significant impact on the insurance industry, and insurers that are able to embrace these new technologies and adapt to the changing landscape will be well-positioned to provide better coverage options and improve the overall customer experience.
5. Supply chain management:
This includes the management of inventory, logistics, and the distribution of medicines and medical equipment. Health tech can improve supply chain management by enabling real-time tracking of medical supplies, reducing wastage, and ensuring that medical supplies are available when needed.
At the end of the day, the health of a nation is dependent on the cumulative access of its citizens to quality healthcare, and health tech is solving for that. From managing chronic diseases to addressing the doctor-patient ratio, preventing medical negligence, improving insurance, and supply chain management, health tech can provide efficient, accessible, and affordable healthcare services. As technology continues to evolve, health tech will undoubtedly continue to play an essential role in the future of healthcare.
Dr Alexander Kuruvilla, Chief Strategy Officer, Practo
(DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are sole of the author and ETHealthworld does not necessarily subscribe to it. ETHealthworld.com shall not be responsible for any damage caused to any person/organisation directly or indirectly.)