According to a UN report, urban areas make up around 75% of India’s health infrastructure, accessible to around 27% of the population, highlighting a significant infrastructure gap in rural areas, especially lack of primary health care facilities.
Additionally, according to the recent Human Development Report, India has only five beds per 10,000 Indians, ranking it 155th out of 167 countries for bed availability. It also has only 8.6 doctors per 10,000 inhabitants, which further testifies to the lack of adequate health infrastructure.
Innovations that stimulate the health technology sector
Technology can be an important catalyst in bridging the gap in health care infrastructure. The integration of technology in healthcare has enabled the creation of new business models:
- Product innovation – new products under development for the treatment of rare diseases, shortening of surgeries, better diagnosis, personalized health care
- Increased reach through innovative go-to-market – telemedicine, remote monitoring, wellness apps
- Faster and better disease detection – leveraging AI, virtual reality and IoT
- Increased precision – through data science, machine learning, laying the groundwork for precision medicine
Emerging technologies are being integrated by various healthcare companies, highlighting notable use cases to address industry uptime and quality issues.
AI is widely used to make diagnostic imaging like X-rays and MRI affordable and accessible. Qure.ai is using AI to analyze x-ray exams to make diagnoses faster and more accurately, reducing the burden on the tiny number of radiologists in the country and expanding the reach of radiology solutions.
5C Network, through its AI-powered platform and algorithms, claims to reduce the turnaround time for a radiology report from around 48 hours to just 42 minutes, with greater accuracy.
AI finds its use case in precision medicine, where diseases like cancer can be detected early through body scans. These can also be used to predict genetic health problems. Niramai uses AI and thermal analysis to identify breast cancer in the early days at a lower cost.
Medical consultation is provided by AI-powered apps, which harness intelligence through analysis and the personal medical histories of players like Doxtro and Mfine.
IoT and surveillance have the potential to dramatically improve healthcare. IoT can help detect health issues, monitor patient status, and relay information to medical staff in real time, improving the efficiency of the entire healthcare system.
Spectral Insights has built a platform to deliver advanced analytics, innovative imaging, clinical labs, and digital microscopy for hospitals.
They work closely with the pathology department to provide access to high quality digital slide images at all times.
Cardiac Design Labs has developed a Mobile Smart Remote Heart Monitor (MIRCaM – a portable device that offers real-time heart diagnosis and monitoring using smart systems that provide automatic reports from a distance.
MUrgency acts as an aggregator and brings various services of doctors, nurses and ambulances on a single platform. Portea is a home care business that makes it easy to organize doctors, nurses, etc., for home visits and home lab tests, making healthcare more accessible. It enables uploading of patient data to an EMR platform, which uses predictive analytics to understand patient health trends. Cloudphysician is an intensive care remote monitoring company that strives to bridge the gap between demand and supply of intensive care facilities and trained personnel in level 2/3 locations.
Technology is moving healthcare away from hospitals
The future would lead to a shift from a curative to a more preventive approach, increasing the penetration of home care and services outside of hospitals.
IoT-based monitoring devices would help track people’s health. Blockchain would change the way EHRs are populated and maintained and linked to services like payments and insurance. AI would aid in diagnosis, triage and treatment, thereby supporting healthcare professionals.
Technology may never replace physicians entirely, but surely bring the efficiency needed in an under-penetrated country like India. It wouldn’t be about AI versus medics, but one of meds plus AI.
The future will see more collaboration and integration of technology with traditional healthcare. In a utopian world, humans and machines would coexist for a better and healthy future.
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