Digitization is causing a quantum shift in the quality of India’s Healthcare today. With a current worth of $100 billion, the Indian Healthcare is growing rapidly at 23% CAGR to touch a record-breaking $280 billion by 2020. Ranked among the three largest healthcare markets in the world, India has a massive count of 1,96,312 hospitals.
With a population of 1.3 billion, India has only 1 million Allopathic doctors to treat them. Over 79% of the urban and 72% of the rural population prefer private hospitals for treatment. This only shows the dire need for competent doctors and efficient healthcare institutions. This gap between the availability and need for Healthcare services can be bridged by transforming the paradigm of Digital Healthcare in India.
Need for Digitization of Indian Healthcare
Indian Healthcare must undergo a fundamental shift towards digitization. This is imperative in order to address the following problems which exist currently.
- India has one allopathic Government doctor for every 10,200 people, one government hospital bed for 2050 people and one state-run medical centre for 90,343 persons.
- 67% of Indian population lives in rural areas yet they are served only by 33% of the local Indian doctors.
- India has 81% deficit of medical specialists in rural areas
- 63% of the hospital beds in India are from the private sector.
- India’s geriatric population is on the rise having crossed 100 million in 2014 itself and is expected to reach 168 million by 2024.
- Non-communicable diseases account for most of the health ailments in India, needing extra intervention.
- India spends the lowest- only 4.7% of its GDP on healthcare.
To satisfy the ever-increasing demands for professional medical services and make quality healthcare more accessible to remote and rural areas, Indian Healthcare must update itself and become digitized.
Challenges faced by Indian Healthcare that need digitizing as their solution
Health care is facing a quantum shift in its focus from the Provider to the provided. The focus is now more on the patient than the doctor. Healthcare is now more patient-centric and value-based.
Presently Indian Healthcare faces the following challenges acutely in the form of need for:
- Patient-focussed care – Today patients find themselves spending marginal time with physicians and more by themselves in the form of self-care. They seek a remedy to this imbalance of attention by wanting to take control of their health by using new technical gadgets or digital devices.
- Value Healthcare in place of Volume Healthcare – Ever-increasing healthcare costs and inefficient insurance penetration have made patients seek Value-based Healthcare instead of Volume-based treatment. Patients wish to avoid frequent visits to the doctor, unnecessary tests and scans and look for transparency in clinical information. To achieve this, patient resort to digital technology to equip themselves with more medical information and use wearables and IoT connected devices for self-monitoring of BP, blood sugar etc.
- Continuing healthcare at home– India is acutely short of hospital beds. This shortage is being bridged by administering immediate attention in hospitals and continuing the healthcare at home. This requires the use of remote patient monitoring through telemonitoring devices.
- Integrating digital technology in training doctors, maintaining patient records and installing Health Information Systems.
Digital Healthcare encompasses a bevy of medical facilities using digital technology.
1. Mobile Healthcare
Mobile Healthcare or ” M-Health ” involves the use of mobile devices and applications in healthcare. It is one of the largest segments of Digital Healthcare. With a market share of 2083 crore in 2015, Mobile Healthcare is progressing rapidly and expected to reach 5184 crores by 2020. According to a survey, 68% of the doctors recommend the use of mobile apps for healthcare while 59% of the patients are already using them.
Mobile Healthcare is most useful in:
- Online booking of appointments and diagnostic tests
- Tele-consulting and
- Real-time monitoring of patient’s vital signs.
2. Remote diagnostics
Remote diagnostics involves the use of digital technology in offering healthcare services outside the conventional hospital premises. It is also called tele-homecare. Remote diagnostics has been found to be particularly useful in the treatment of:
- Heart failures
- Infertility etc.
- For medical conditions requiring an immediate response.
Remote diagnostic technology uses devices like RPM sensors, examination cameras, telehealth response watches and interactive software to capture and analyze collected data. Wireless health monitors synced with mobile apps on smartphones are the most commonly used Remote diagnostic devices for measuring BP, Blood sugar, heart rate, cholesterol etc. The Indian Remote healthcare service market was worth $7.5 million and is expected to grow by 20% CAGR.
The use of telecommunication and digital technology to provide healthcare services is called Telemedicine. This may involve Telenursing, Telepharmacy, Teleradiology etc. Telemedicine is found to be specifically useful in Tele-rehabilitation in neuropsychology, audiology etc. and in offering medical services to remote and rural locations.
Telemedicine uses webcams, video-conferencing, videophones and WebPages to provide diagnostic, consulting and monitoring of patients.
Healthcare wearables like smartwatches with health monitors, Fit bits, Heart Monitors, Medical Tricoders, Brain-sensing Headbands are flooding the market. You can measure, monitor and record your heartbeat, pulse rate, blood pressure, blood sugar etc. while you are on the go. The Indian Healthcare Wearables Market is valued at Rs.30 crores presently and is growing by leaps and bounds.
Electronic Medical Records have been implemented in many premium Indian health care centres to avoid medical errors and improve efficiency in the delivery of curative services.
6. Cloud-based analytics
Hospitals have started realizing the value of using Big Data and Cloud-based Analytics to optimized their healthcare offerings.
Potential for Digital Healthcare
Digital Healthcare holds tremendous promise as tremendous opportunities exist as seen below.
- India is much sought after for Medical Tourism. With its cost-effective treatment techniques and a large pool of proficient physicians, India is the medical destination for patients from several countries.
- Indian healthcare is much cheaper than that in Western countries while providing the same quality without compromise.
- O.U.s have been signed between India and other nations like Cuba and Singapore for medical co-operation and collaboration.
The advent of Digital Healthcare spells the dawn of a new era of Indian Medicine with improved quality, reduced cost and better penetration of healthcare services.