Digital channels will play a greater role in the provision of health services in the future. The transition from traditional personal services to these digitally activated services has accelerated over the past two years. Mass interventions of technology-based solutions have been observed in the last few years to provide better care to patients. From government agencies to large private hospitals; From Healthtech startups to individual interns; the adoption of the technology by all stakeholders went into a faster clip.
The application of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, data analytics, blockchain and cloud computing is taking deep steps in the health sector. Not surprisingly, global consultant McKinsey predicts that the global market for digital health, which was about $ 350 billion in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic, will reach $ 515 billion by 2024 with an eight percent CAGR.
On the way home, the pandemic accelerated the pace of digital reception. India’s National Telemedicine Service, eSanjeevani, has completed three million consultations by the end of March 2021. Similarly, India’s leading COVID-tracking and vaccination status program has more than 190 million registered users. Such a wide range of technology-based solutions reflects the fact that technology and health remain inseparable.
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Smart health depends on the appropriate application of digital technologies in the delivery of health care. Interestingly, the use is increasing. For example, sample recognition, categorization, and anomaly detection and prediction are further enhanced by artificial intelligence software solutions. Remote surgery technology now takes specialists to remote locations in a matter of seconds. All you need to do is access the internet and compatible devices. Also, artificial intelligence solutions combined with analytics can diagnose diseases such as cancer at an early stage through medical imaging. This leads to easier detection of abnormalities, in addition to faster diagnosis and early treatment. Similarly, the combination of solutions using IoT (Internet of Things), AI and cloud computing has recently strengthened a number of smart healthcare devices.
This is evidenced by the widespread adoption of telehealth through tele-consulting platforms. These advanced teleconsulting programs are user-friendly with simple interfaces that can be used on devices running different operating systems. They also remember the patient’s history with past treatment records, calling specialists when needed, making the consultation process easier, faster and more cost-effective. Similarly, wearable devices such as smart watches, fitness trackers, ECG monitors, blood pressure monitors, biosensors are equipped with IoT solutions.
The most critical application of IoT is in the Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) space. Internet of Things software has been successfully integrated into hardware devices to automatically collect health indicators such as heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, and other critical information points from patients from ICUs without any physical intervention. Such information displayed on the dashboard in real time helps doctors make life-saving interventions. For emerging economies such as India and many African countries, the adoption of RPM solutions is more important than developed economies. Because there are few health professionals in these geographies. Digital technology makes it much easier for these professionals to be available across the country; even in inaccessible areas, in mountainous areas, and in remote villages where timely treatment is rare. However, through RPM applications, physicians can monitor the vital condition of patients living in remote areas and prescribe medication or go to the hospital in case of anomalies.
Therefore, the application of RPM solutions has the potential to revolutionize the health ecosystem through proactive health delivery. In this way, Information Technology (IT) has democratized access to treatment by geography, overcoming critical time and distance barriers.
Cloud computing is another technological frontier that has witnessed huge applications in healthcare. Organizations operating in this ecosystem move in droves to the clouds. This leads to the automation of a number of processes, which saves time and money for these enterprises. Electronic Health Records are the most important use of cloud computing solutions.
The Indian government has launched an ambitious initiative to create digital Health IDs for every citizen. Such a digital health ID initiative could help countries develop a universal health care system based on electronic health records (EHR) and e-Health Centers. Smart hospitals are also gaining popularity around the world. These smart hospitals use RFID, infrared sensors, GPS, laser scanners and other data sensor equipment to better diagnose, treat and manage hospitals. In addition, vaccine research and development is witnessing the application of digital technologies.
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The pace of digitalization has accelerated significantly due to the COVID pandemic. The use of tele-health platforms, e-pharmacies, wearable devices, and RPM solutions has gained popularity throughout cloud migration. However, deeper technological interventions come with their own risks. In most applications used by caregivers, patient information is stored digitally. Any breach of such a database would jeopardize the privacy and confidentiality of patients. Therefore, strong cyber security measures with a Zero Trust Network (ZTN) approach will be required to protect sensitive data.
Global health is on the verge of a mass transformation in the coming years. The pandemic has shown that India is a leader in many aspects of digital healthcare. All stakeholders must work in tandem to maintain speed. This can turn the future of health into prevention.