Information Technology and artificial intelligence interventions are changing the healthcare landscape in India. Rajiv Gupta, Country Business Leader- Healthcare Business, 3M India in a candid chat with BT, spoke about how healthcare solutions will be driven by technology, specialised healthcare facilities for non-metro cities, home healthcare solutions and new trends in healthcare space. Edited excerpts.
BT: How will technology play a key role for people centric health solutions in 2022?
RG: Technology has been playing a critical role in people centric health solutions over the recent past and got a shot in the arm due to Covid pandemic. With increasing health awareness there has been a rapid growth in wearable medical devices. These devices track critical parameters and provide personalised experiences and determine the likelihood of any impending risks. This will drive greater focus towards preventive/ proactive healthcare. We will also see role of big data becoming more significant in healthcare. Data shall fuel the AI powered devices which shall analyze thousands of data sets or images and assist the physicians in providing accurate diagnosis and possibly the best course of treatment. AI has a huge potential in healthcare and can help reduce the cost and improve patient outcomes.
BT: What can healthcare organisations do to ensure seamless access to critical medical devices?
RG: Most of the healthcare organisations are committed to the cause of improving patient lives and continuously invest to enhance the capacities as per foreseeable demand. But sudden advent of Covid like pandemic can derail any amount of planning to meet the requirement of critical devices. Solution to such issues is a connected healthcare, basically a digital ecosystem where real time data from premier government and private hospitals and diagnostic centers flows into a data center which can help tracking and monitor any sudden changes in disease patterns. If such critical information is timely available, government along with the manufacturers and the healthcare delivery organisations can work together to prepare to fulfil upcoming requirements for any critical medical device.
BT: As a trend of home healthcare is settling in, how do you think this will gather pace in 2022?
RG: Home healthcare has evolved in India over the past few years. It gathered pace during the pandemic and the trend is likely to continue. AI powered devices and improving connectivity has helped in better remote monitoring of patients and home health helps get personalised care at lower cost in the comfort of home environment. Moreover, the ageing population in the country and constrained infrastructure in terms of hospital beds shall shift the patient preference to home health.
BT: How can we meet the growing demand of specialised healthcare facilities from non-metro cities?
RG: Close to two third of healthcare GDP in India is contributed by private sector and to meet the rising demand of specialised healthcare in non-metros, private players shall have a significant role to play. We are seeing different models to cater to the non-metro markets. One is the physical infrastructure; we have seen large hospital chains already making inroads in Tier 2 & 3 cities. There are many examples where large chains have acquired existing hospitals or are setting up greenfield projects in non-metro cities.
Another model is telediagnosis/ telemedicine or the online consultations. With Covid impact, all stakeholders like doctor communities, patients and regulatory authorities have slowly started evaluating and accepting this format of healthcare delivery. With right checks and balances, this model has the potential to quickly scale up and meet the growing demand of specialized care in non-metros.
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