Digitisation in healthcare amid pandemic helped in improving quality and accessibility, say experts
The year 2020 was filled with many challenges, but it also birthed several new opportunities. With people locked away in their homes due to the lockdown, social distancing, work from home, etc., to avoid the coronavirus, online services became the most preferred way to get things done including classes, tuitions, food, groceries, medicines, among others.
The Indian healthcare sector saw a massive digital disruption last year as well. The unforeseen pandemic revealed many issues including infrastructure gaps, lack of awareness, and lack of adequate personnel. The public and private players, however, came together and collaborated to come up with innovations to fight the pandemic.
Apart from pandemic innovations, the healthcare sector also saw a major shift from offline to online dominated by telemedicine and mobile health services.
According to a report titled “Reinventing Healthcare Delivery With Telemedicine” by the Telemedicine Society of India (TSI) and Practo, India recorded a 3X increase in the number of people using online consultations, while in-person appointments reduced by 32 percent between March to November 2020. Apart from this, non-metro cities recorded a growth of 7X in online consultations, as compared to last year.
The rise in telemedicine services enabled people across the country to access quality healthcare. Apart from online consultations, the healthcare industry also saw increased adoption of smart devices, AI and ML-powered solutions for tracking health, diagnosing, testing diseases, and remote monitoring of patients.
Speaking at Resurgence TiEcon Delhi-NCR event, Dr Sangita Reddy, Joint Managing Director, Apollo Hospitals Group, said, digitisation has enhanced access and quality of healthcare.
“Digitisation has helped us to reach the unreachable,” she adds.
Opportunities in healthcare using deeptech
While addressing the audience virtually during the event, Abhinav Shashank, Co-Founder and CEO of Innovaccer, explained that healthcare has now become important for people in general.
“We are going to live healthier in general and not seek healthcare only when we are unwell,” he said.
Dr Devi Prasad Shetty, cardiac surgeon, Chairman, and Founder of Narayana Health, said that hospitals are now not as safe as they used to be. He said the time has come for industry stakeholders to relook at the healthcare sector.
According to Abhinav, leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning will help the players to record all the information about patients, which will be helpful in diagnoses and treatment.
Mapmygenome Founder and CEO Anuradha Acharya explained that deep technologies can be used in genomics for mapping and predicting, which cannot be done with traditional methods.
“We are looking at it for risk prediction, classifying people, map whether a disease will reoccur or not,” she adds.
Healthcare stakeholders also believe that the implementation of AI and the adoption of telemedicine will make follow-ups more efficient.
The initiative for further developing and strengthening the healthcare sector has been taken up by both the public and private sectors. In a bid to fight the pandemic, two India made vaccines are already being provided to not only Indians but also in other countries.
Giving a boosting to the sector, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced an allocation of Rs 2,83,846 lakh crore for the healthcare and wellness sector in Budget 2021, including Rs 35,000 crore for COVID-19 vaccines.
Indian startups are also gearing up to come up with new and innovative solutions for not only eliminating the health crisis at hand but also ensuring the nation stays ready for such crises in the future. Several startups are also building solutions to ensure that people across the country get access to COVID-19 vaccine.
The pandemic has indeed dealt a huge blow to the Indian healthcare sector, but it has also paved way for innovations and solutions which can prove to be a game changer for the sector.