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Why Digital Propulsion Is The Answer to India’s Growing Healthcare Challenges

In the 16th century, the Portugese brought modern medicine to India, with the French and British establishing India’s first hospitals in mid-17th century in erstwhile Calcutta and Madras.

Today, there are more than 196,000 hospitals in India. As of 2016, the Indian healthcare market stood at $110bn and can reach $280bn by 2020. The healthcare industry has grown by leaps and bounds – not only has it expanded in size across the country with major hospital chains emerging in India’s biggest cities, but an immense amount of innovation has been done in these hospital chains too.

While hospitals may have mushroomed across India’s major cities and larger towns, the millions that reside in India’s rural pockets struggle with access basic healthcare amenities even today. Less than 1/3 of doctors treat India’s rural pockets. As of 2016, India did not meet the WHO’s recommendations for healthcare workforce and infrastructure –

  1. WHO recommends 1 doctor for every 1,000 patients; India has 0.65
  2. WHO recommends 5 nurses every 1,000 patients; India has 1.3
  3. WHO recommends 5 hospital beds for every 1,000 patients; India has 1.3

On the other hand, as cities get excessively crowded, even the most sought-after hospitals and medical care facilities struggle to provide a high and expansive level of care to all.

This is the tip of the iceberg. With booming rates of incidence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), the level of care needed today has to be more intuitive and perceptive so timely action can be taken. Even as the extent of challenges for India’s healthcare industry keeps growing, digitisation could be the key to solving some, if not all, of these challenges. The extensive use of disruptive technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and IoT among others can address the scale and level of healthcare across the spectrum today.

Currently, some of the major digital healthcare solutions include:

Telemedicine: Using technology for remote care and diagnosis, This is one area that India can significantly scale, given the manner in which telemedicine can optimise provider and patient costs

Portable Diagnostic Methods: Low-cost, portable and easy-to-use medical devices are being adopted with speed and ease across India. Moreover, these are devices that can be taken to rural areas without much difficulty.

IoT and Wearables: Several modern portable diagnostic kits are being introduced with a touch of advanced technology for constant monitoring purposes. Wearables, embedded with high-grade IoT sensors, continuously provide a flow of data to medical practitioners, who can access patient data collectively on a cloud.

Advanced Analytics for Monitoring Patients: Advanced health information systems and cloud computing are becoming the preferred alternative to keep track of a ever-growing database of patients.

It is predicted that technologies like RPA and AI will have a far-reaching impact on Indian healthcare. And the tide is turning for India’s vast healthcare industry. There’s an array of creative solutions in fields of electronic record management, booking medical appointments, screening platforms and much more, all using highly advanced technologies.

At the upcoming Lifesciences & Healthcare Innovation Forum (LHIF), Digital Propulsion of Universal Healthcare will be the central theme, where the utility of such technologies and upcoming innovations in healthcare will be discussed widely.  The day-long event promises to be a highly impactful gathering of some of India’s biggest change makers in the healthcare industry. Confirmed speakers and attendees include Debjani Ghosh, President, NASSCOM; Mr. Siva Padmanabhan, MD, Astra Zeneca Pvt Ltd;  Dileep Mangsuli, CTO, GE Healthcare; Mr. Aravind Sivaramakrishnan, CIO Apollo Hospitals; Mr. Sumit Puri, CIO Max Healthcare; Mr.Rajiv Sikka, CIO Medanta; Mr. Praveen Srivatsava, Joint Director, CDAC Noida; Mr. Suresh Kumar, CTO Wipro GE Healthcare Clinical Operations; among many others.

The event will also witness representatives from ministries and industry bodies such as Ministry of IT, Ministry of Health, NATHEALTH, CAHO and AHPI .

Startups and innovators who have made impressive breakthroughs in introducing a suite of new technology products and solutions will also be present at the event to showcase their innovations and discuss the landscape of Indian healthcare and its various aspects.

LHIF is the flagship initiative of NASSCOM Center of Excellence. For sponsorship queries, contact Arjun Alva (arjun@nasscom.in) and for general queries on LHIF, contact Vijetha (vijetha@mail.nasscom.in)

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