How do Technology and Healthcare go hand in hand, Health News, ET HealthWorld
Digital channels will play a much more important role in the future of healthcare delivery. The transition to these digital services from traditional face-to-face services has accelerated in the last two years. In recent years, massive interventions have been seen in technological solutions to provide better care to patients. From government agencies to large private hospitals; from technology startups to individual professionals; the adoption of technology by all stakeholders has advanced more rapidly.
The application of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, data analytics, blockchain, and cloud computing are making deep forays into the healthcare sector. Not surprisingly, leading global consultant McKinsey predicts that the global digital health market, which was about $ 350 billion in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic, is likely to reach $ 515 billion in 2024 with a CAGR of eight percent.
Back home, the pandemic has accelerated the pace of digital adoption. The National Telemedicine Service of India: eSanjeevani had surpassed the milestone by completing three million consultations by the end of March 2021. Similarly, India’s flagship application for monitoring and vaccination status of COVID has more of 190 million registered users. Such a broad embrace of technology-based solutions reflects that technology and healthcare remain inalienable.
Deep penetration of digital technologies:
Smart healthcare depends on the appropriate applications of digital technologies in the delivery of healthcare. Encouragingly, use cases are on the rise. For example, pattern recognition, categorization, anomaly detection, and prediction are improved with AI-based software solutions. Remote surgery technology now puts experts within reach of remote sites in seconds. All you need is Internet access and compatible devices. In addition, artificial intelligence-driven solutions integrated with analytics are diagnosing diseases such as cancer from an early stage from the medical image. This leads to effortless detection of abnormalities, apart from faster diagnosis and early treatment. Similarly, a combination of solutions that take advantage of the IoT (Internet of Things), artificial intelligence, and cloud computing has been fueling a number of smart devices in recent times.
The widespread adoption of telehealth through teleconsultation platforms is a testament to this. These cutting-edge teleconsultation applications are easy to use with simple interfaces that can be used across multiple operating systems across devices. They also remember the patient’s history with records of previous treatments, provide in-call experts as needed making the consultation process easier, faster and cheaper and at the same time effective. Similarly, portable devices such as a smartwatch, a fitness tracker, ECG monitors, blood pressure monitors, and biosensors are powered by IoT solutions.
The most critical IoT application is seen in the Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) space. IoT-driven software applications are successfully incorporated into hardware devices to automatically collect health metrics such as heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, and more critical patient data points without any ICU physical intervention. This data, which is displayed on a real-time control panel, helps physicians perform life-saving interventions. For emerging economies such as India and many African nations, the adoption of RPM solutions is more important than developed economies. Because the availability of health professionals in these geographies is scarce. Digital technology makes it much easier to make these experts available nationwide; even in difficult-to-travel areas, mountainous terrain, and remote villages where timely treatment is rare. However, through RPM applications, physicians can track the vital status of patients residing in remote areas and prescribe medication or hospital admissions in case of abnormalities.
Therefore, the application of RPM solutions has the potential to bring about revolutionary changes in the healthcare ecosystem through the provision of proactive health. In this way, information technology (IT) has democratized access to treatment across geographies, eliminating critical time and distance barriers.
Cloud computing is another technological frontier, witnessing huge applications in the healthcare space. Organizations operating in this ecosystem have been migrating to the cloud en masse. This is leading to automation of various processes, which saves time and costs for these companies. Electronic medical records are the most important use case for leveraging cloud computing solutions.
The Government of India has embarked on an ambitious initiative to create digital health IDs for every citizen. This digital health identification initiative can help nations develop a universal health system based on electronic health records (EHRs) and electronic health centers. Smart hospitals are also gaining popularity around the world. RFID, infrared sensors, GPS, laser scanners and other information detection equipment are being used in these smart hospitals for better diagnosis, treatment and management of hospitals. In addition, vaccine research and development is also a testament to the applications of digital technologies.
Security is the key:
The pace of digitization has accelerated many times due to the COVID pandemic. The use of telehealth platforms, e-pharmacies, portable devices, and RPM solutions throughout cloud migration has gained popularity. However, the deepest technological interventions carry their own set of risks. In most applications used by caregivers, patient data is stored in digital format. Any breach of this database will jeopardize the privacy and confidentiality of patients. Therefore, strong cybersecurity measures with the Zero Trust Network (ZTN) approach will be needed to safeguard sensitive data.
Global health care is at the height of a massive transformation in the coming years. The pandemic has shown that India is leading the way in many aspects of digital healthcare. To maintain momentum, all stakeholders should work together. This can make the future of health preventive.
by Sanjeev Dahiwadkar, founder and CEO of Cognota Healthcare.
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