Innovation is the key to productive healthcare, says Ritesh Talapatra of Optum Global Solutions at TechSparks 2021
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, globally, healthcare facilities encountered major challenges. The lack of access to qualified medical care, social stigma, and stricter guidelines and protocols maintained by the countries were on the rise.
Against this backdrop, the use of technology, leading to virtual consultations and online checkups, was widely encouraged.
At TechSparks 2021, YourStory's flagship startup-tech conference, Ritesh Talapatra, Managing Director, Optum Global Solutions (India), described how innovation is the key to productive healthcare.
Digital healthcare versus traditional care
During a fireside chat on ‘Innovating to enhance access to convenient, high-quality healthcare’, Ritesh said pre-COVID-19, healthcare facilities were shifting to our homes from hospitals, with digital healthcare slowly replacing traditional care.
“COVID-19 just accelerated the entire process, and reports state that telemedicine use has risen by a steep 38 percent than usual times,” he said.
Owing to the convenience and efficacy of the telemedicine model, about 83 percent of patients got accustomed to it. And COVID-19 created the demand for the digital healthcare model.
Optum Global Solutions is a leading digital health technology company working with a mission of helping people live healthier lives and helping make the health system work better for everyone.
“We are preparing our medical staff and physicians to be tech-savvy and ready for telehealth. We have recently created a telehealth focussed plan,” added Ritesh.
According to Ritesh, budding entrepreneurs should be mindful of certain factors while discussing digital innovation, including having a more patient-centric approach.
“As patients get used to commercial treatments and retail services, they get the hang of convenience and personalisation and expect the same from the healthcare approach,” he said.
Besides, Ritesh believes all the generic approaches, including the usage of the state-of-the-art support system and seeking clinical pathways that suit a patient’s needs and ability to pay, must be considered.
“Healthcare needs to be affordable for active participation by everyone, especially in India,” he added.
Trends revolutionising healthcare
Stressing the commercialisation of healthcare, Ritesh cited the classic example of doing multiple rounds of research before settling on buying the preferred music system.
“Similarly, why not try the same process with healthcare facilities? This is what I believe is the consumerisation of healthcare and is a positive trend for sure,” he said.
He also highlighted the importance of wellness exercises, including regular checkups, tests, proper diet, and fitness regimes to avoid problems before they occur. “Are we going to treat people with symptoms, or work on people and prevent symptoms from appearing?” he added.
Moreover, leveraging predictive models by using available data and tools can help to prevent a major disease. “What if we have a system that recalls medicines?” asks Ritesh, adding that while we think of acquiring the data, Optum helps us with the rich patient database.
“The digital healthcare sector promises great career potentialities, but you just need to remember the value you are adding to the domain,” he said.
“Both money and your mission are important, and you can’t choose between the two. Rather, clarify your thoughts on what you want now and what you have stored for later in life,” he advised young entrepreneurs.
All things done by technologists in the healthcare sector has a direct impact on people's lives. More than a job, it is passion mixed with the profession and needs to be dealt with respect.
He concluded, saying, to initiate superior and innovative healthcare facilities, entrepreneurs need to follow the three P’s — platform, prediction, and privacy.
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