Indian healthcare has been on a technology implementation spree amid COVID-19 as digitization unfurls new trends in physician-patient relationship as medical practice becomes virtual. The adoption of technology has opened up a plethora of possibilities for seamless interaction and has also automated the administrative tasks.
Data analytics and artificial intelligence have optimized healthcare resources to genomic analysis, Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), among others. The advent of mobile health data applications has provided patients easy access to their health information. Similarly, hospitals draw insights of data gathered from mobile health apps, to create therapeutic and preventive health programmes for the population.
According to Santosh Rathi, Sr. VP Bio Medical Services, Columbia Asia Hospitals, India, digitization is the catalyst in transforming healthcare services. Technology in healthcare has fuelled contactless patient care and telemedicine.
One such scenario is in the COVID wards, where monitoring a patient’s temperature and other vital parameters could be easily accessed by doctors in real-time and timely medical care came forth via video interactions. Even medicines and food were provided to patients by robots.
Non-medical departments are operational in reduced capacity and workforce continues to work remotely. Online platforms are used to share data to ensure continuity of all and services, Rathi noted.
During the pandemic even the healthcare supply chain was disrupted because of the national and global lockdowns leading to shortages of drugs, testing kits, safety gears and other essential commodities. The sector managed to cope with this imbalance of supply and demand, which has improved over time since the lockdown and travel restrictions were lifted. In all, the pandemic has brought a sense of urgency in adopting digitisation on several fronts like the supply chain in the health sector using data analytics and artificial intelligence to augment the quality of service provided, said Rathi.
The pandemic accelerated digital transformation enabling the patients to access the different healthcare necessities from remote locations. Digitisation in healthcare which had been proposed for a long time is now becoming a reality. It is the pandemic which has helped turn the spotlight on the capabilities and opportunities for the digital advancements. The doctors, nurses, medical practitioners including the patients are getting accustomed to adapting the technologies making the best out of it. Even teleconsultation and telemedicine have up avenues for increased digital transactions, Rathi further said.
However there are many challenges in adapting the digital technology medium, including poor internet connection, awareness on medical jargons and use of smart phones, language barrier in communication between the medical experts and patients among others. Yet Indian healthcare is keen to bring in the novel solutions in patient monitoring and counseling, said Rathi.