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The digital transformation for the Indian healthcare system

17 Apr 2023

Digitization has impacted nearly all industries in the wake of the pandemic, and the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry in India is no exception to the same. The medical and pharmaceutical sectors have been compelled by the pandemic to recognize digitization as a new reality, and there is no turning back. For the healthcare sector, digitization is quickly transforming health systems, changing how medical data is stored and shared, how patients interact with their healthcare providers, as well as decision-making, treatment plans, and outcomes.

According to an Accenture poll, 93% of healthcare providers in India amidst the pandemic said they are innovating with a sense of urgency to meet the demand for change. Bearing this in mind, as the industry and the related workforce is undergoing a massive overhaul with digital disruptions and innovations, it is necessary to deep dive into the three aspects that are most affected by this tech paradigm shift: viz a viz: Accessibility, Affordability, Quality Healthcare.

Accessible Healthcare for All

Patient experience is now the pharmaceutical industry’s guiding principle as it prepares for growing digitization throughout its value chain. The healthcare sector is investing heavily in remote clinical capabilities, including telemedicine, virtual consultations, online lab testing, virtual clinical trials etc., as a means of enhancing accessibility. While the Indian healthcare and pharmaceutical industry is developing a digital-all approach, globally digitisation has had a deep penetration too in the healthcare industry.

For instance, in the USA, the government has launched the Blue Button initiative, a national campaign which enables customers to easily obtain their personal health information in a usable fashion. A user can obtain a single electronic file including all their available health data by clicking the “Blue Button” icon.

In this way, the citizens are engaged and involved in managing their health records and are also in full control of providing accessibility rights for the same to third parties. Drawing parallels from this, the Indian government too can bolster the efforts for the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission by ensuring that data security and privacy for health records accessibility is maintained for each citizen of India.

Moving forward, now in the post-pandemic era, with significant advancements in the telehealth space, a “phygital” approach will be taken up as a convenient means of healthcare delivery to all patients. The Physical + Digital approach is more convenient for patients and requires less time, while doctors and other medical professionals see it as an opportunity to provide proactive care at the most affordable price.

Technology’s Role in Affordability

India is on the cusp of a major digital transformation, with the telemedicine market expected to grow to In India, the telehealth market is USD 5.4 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 31 per cent. Digitisation has brought about telehealth and telemedicine in India, which in turn has made healthcare affordable for many patients. Telemedicine, developing currently in the remotest pockets of India now, makes high-quality healthcare available to everyone.

It is enabling patients to communicate with medical professionals via audio-visual chat utilising devices like a laptop, smartphone, and wireless technology. In addition to making patients’ lives more convenient, telehealth has several other advantages, such as better public health, more access to healthcare, lessened strain on the medical workforce, and less financial burden.

Enhancing Quality of Care

With the development of technology, patients are now more frequently using the Internet to learn about their own problems, find support in the case of chronic illnesses and cancers, and then return to their consultants with suggestions and queries. Digital health applications can be utilised to help patients improve their self-management and dispel their doubts, empowering them and making health care providers a better ally in shared decision-making. In the best-case scenario, digitization can aid in a general cultural transition from traditional toward collaborative care, making shared decision-making the new norm.

Moreover, by utilising the power of digital technology and artificial intelligence, it will be possible to provide quality healthcare for all. In order to achieve the best results, we must look at developing a strategy that treats technology investment as a profit centre rather than a cost centre, drive population health analytics by introducing and enhancing EMR (Electronic Medical Records) adoption, invest in solutions that make it simpler for doctors to adopt digital solutions, such as ABDM, and invest in technology that augments current workforce, thereby increasing the number of healthcare practitioners in the nation.

Way Forward

As we take massive strides in digitising the healthcare and pharmaceutical sector of India, we need to ensure that a holistic and well-regulated ecosystem is in place which provides the right safety and security net for healthcare records and prevents the misuse of patient data. For this we need to proceed with caution and enable collaborations amidst governing bodies, institutes, corporates to develop a well-rounded system for smoother operational efficiency in the digitisation space. The pharma and healthcare ecosystem’s readiness must be a strategic goal to build capacity and strengthen the public health infrastructure to be ready for any potential health concerns in the future. By doing this, the industry will see consistent growth while putting the needs of the patient first and achieving the national objectives for universal healthcare for everyone.

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