Technology can be a significant enabler in bridging the gap in the healthcare infrastructure. The integration of technology in healthcare has enabled the creation of new business models
By Ratna Mehta
As per a UN report, urban areas constitute around 75% of India’s healthcare infrastructure, accessible to approximately 27% of the population, highlighting a significant gap in rural areas’ infrastructure, especially the lack of primary healthcare facilities.
Also, as per the recent Human Development Report, India has only five beds per 10,000 Indians, ranking it 155th out of 167 countries on bed availability. It also has just 8.6 doctors per 10,000 people, further signalling the dearth of adequate healthcare infrastructure.
Innovations driving the Health-tech sector
Technology can be a significant enabler in bridging the gap in the healthcare infrastructure. The integration of technology in healthcare has enabled the creation of new business models:
- Product innovation – new products being developed for treating rare diseases, shortening surgeries, better diagnosis, personalized healthcare
- Increased reach through innovative go-to-market – telemedicine, remote monitoring, wellness apps
- Faster and better disease detection – by leveraging AI, VR, IoT
- Increased precision – through data science, machine learning, laying the groundwork for precision medicine
Emerging technologies are being incorporated by various healthcare companies, highlighting notable use cases to address the sector’s availability and quality issues.
Applications of AI
AI is widely used to make diagnostic imaging like X-rays and MRIs affordable and accessible. Qure.ai utilizes AI to analyze radiology scans for faster and accurate diagnoses, thereby reducing the burden on the existing minuscule number of radiologists in the country and widening radiology solutions’ reach.
5C Network, through its platform and AI-based algorithms, is claiming to reduce the turnaround time for a radiology report from around 48 hours to 42 minutes only, with higher accuracy.
AI finds its use case in Precision Medicine, wherein diseases like cancer can be detected early through body scans. These can also be used to predict genetic health issues. Niramai uses AI and thermal analytics to identify breast cancer in the early days at a lower cost.
Medical consultation is being provided by AI-based apps, which leverages intelligence through analytics and personal medical history by players like Doxtro and Mfine.
Applications of IoT
IoT and surveillance have the potential to improve healthcare significantly. IoT can help in detecting health problems, monitoring the condition of patients, and relaying the information to the medical personnel in real-time, enhancing the efficiency of the overall healthcare system.
Spectral Insights built a platform for providing advanced analytics, innovative imaging, clinical laboratories, and digital microscopy for the hospitals.
They work closely with the pathology department to provide any time access to digital slide images in high-quality.
Cardiac Design Labs have developed Mobile Intelligent Remote Cardiac Monitor (MIRCaM – a wearable device that offer real-time diagnosis and cardiac monitoring using intelligent systems that provide automatic remote reporting.
MUrgency acts as an aggregator and brings varied services of doctors, nurses and ambulances on one platform. Portea is a home healthcare company that facilitates the arrangement of doctors, nurses etc., for home visits and lab tests at home, making health care more accessible. It enables the upload of patient data to an EMR platform, which utilizes predictive analytics to comprehend patient health trends. Cloudphysician is a remote ICU monitoring company working towards bridging the demand-supply gap of critical care facilities and qualified staff in Tier 2/3 locations.
Technology taking healthcare away from hospitals
The future would result in a shift from a curative to a more preventive approach, increasing home care penetration and services outside hospitals.
IoT-based monitoring devices would aid in tracking the health of people. Blockchain would change the way of populating and maintaining EHRs and linking them to services such as payments and insurance. AI would assist in diagnosis, triage, and treatment, thereby supporting healthcare professionals.
Technology might never replace physicians entirely but will surely bring efficiency which is needed in an underpenetrated country like India. It would not be a matter of AI versus physicians, but one of the physicians plus AI.
The future will see more collaboration and integration of technology with traditional healthcare. In a utopian world, humans and machines would co-exist for a healthy and better tomorrow.
Source: BW BusinessWorld