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Indian healthcare needs innovation

As healthcare organisations in India grapple with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there are serious concerns being raised about India’s fragile and inadequate health infrastructure.

While the surge in the number of coronavirus cases during the second wave of the pandemic highlighted the shortcomings of the Indian healthcare system, it has brought to attention the fact that we are woefully under equipped to handle even the basic medical requirements of the population.

What is even more worrying is that it is virtually impossible to make up for this inadequacy. While one could try to build infrastructure and manufacture medical equipment and supplies, it is hardly possible to make up for skilled human resources. How does one produce qualified doctors and nurses overnight or even over the course of a year or two? In this rather dismal scenario, digital healthcare offers a much-needed beacon of hope.

Digital healthcare: a beacon of hope

As with nearly all other sectors in the world, digital innovation has proven to be a real tipping point in the healthcare sector globally. From startups to established tech giants, new innovations and emerging players in health technology are challenging healthcare organisations to redefine and reimagine the way they deliver value to patients.

Emerging digital healthcare solutions not only improve access to healthcare services, but they have the potential to create holistic healthcare ecosystems.

All health needs for a patient – from consultancy and diagnostics to medicine delivery, home healthcare, and remote patient monitoring can be served via these ecosystems, which will also help maintain comprehensive electronic medical records and build a patient’s longitudinal history.

India landscape and Covid-induced changes in healthcare

While digital technology offers hope for improving healthcare access and quality, it is important to understand that in India it still has a long way to go.

Unlike fintech or retail, the healthcare sector has been slower to join the digital revolution in India. There are several factors for this including legacy issues, medical infrastructure hurdles, digital access for all, and a reluctance to change.

In many ways, the COVID-19 pandemic has provided a much-needed stimulus to behavioural change among both patients and doctors. It has been a catalyst in pushing the adoption of virtual consults and diagnostic testing. The highly contagious nature of the COVID virus as well as the overwhelmed hospitals have acted as a deterrent for people to seek in-patient care and physical consults, where possible.

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