Technology and data have revolutionised healthcare in the country, aided unprecedented growth, both in the field of medicine and for medical professionals. Doctors have touched lives like never before. Pioneering the healthcare revolution in India by leveraging technology to make it preventive, predictive, accessible, and affordable, Dr Devi Prasad Shetty, Chairman and Executive Director, Narayana Health, speaking at Microsoft's Future Ready conference, argued at length about the role technology is playing in transforming India's healthcare ecosystem.
“COVID has transformed this world completely, especially the healthcare industry, which is totally disrupted. We never thought patients will be sitting at home, looking at the doctors on their mobile phones and taking decisions on major decisions like life-saving heart surgeries or cancer surgery or brain surgeries. The kind of adoption of technology that has happened in healthcare, it would have taken more than 10 years. So on the whole technology has disrupted everything, after COVID," he said.
Shetty argued that the pace in which such a disruption is occurring, the day isn't far when 95 per cent of the illnesses would be treated with telemedicine, "with the patient at home, sitting on their bed, or sitting in a car sitting or in their office. And the doctor sitting in his office or in his house or a farmhouse, the interaction will happen because, unlike all the industries, healthcare is only dependent on the data."
According to the doctor, such a scenario is possible not only because technology has enabled it, but also because 95 per cent of people who are unwell, do not need an operation. All they need is some kind of medical intervention, which can be enabled by telemedicine.
"95% of the people who are unwell do not need operation. If they don't need operation, I don't need to touch them. And if I don't need to touch them, I don't need to be there - I can be anywhere. I can talk to them, get the data and explain to them what the problem is and I can take the decision,” said Shetty.
As data is believed to be the best assistant to doctor, data and analytics, therefore, are making healthcare more predictive and preventive. Talking about how an important role data is playing in healthcare, Shetty added, “I can confidently tell you that the electronic medical records, what the doctors are using today, within the next five years' time these smart EMRs will make smarter diagnosis than doctors. And within seven years, I can tell you that we doctors will be mandated to get a second opinion from the software before starting the treatment, that is going to happen. Now, I keep this timeframe of five or seven years but I know it is going to happen much earlier,” he said.
Shetty also pointed out that the smart software which can give an amazing interpretation of the data and relatively accurate diagnosis is already present. While it may not be available everywhere, it is only a matter of time before it will happen.
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