Digital Health in India

Posted by Global technology interface on May 05, 2022


“There are two areas that are changing - these are information technology and medical technology. Those are the things that indicate that the world will be very different twenty years from how we know it today.”

 

Bill Gates

 

COVID-19 has led to unprecedented utilization of digital solutions to combat the pandemic. According to the Future Health Index (FHI) 2019 report, India is leading in the adoption of digital health technology with 76% of healthcare professionals in the country already using digital health records (DHRs) in their practice.

 

The rapid penetration of smartphones and the internet, coupled with supportive government policies, has propelled the growth of the digital healthcare market in India. In terms of revenue, the digital healthcare market in India has valued at INR 252.92 Bn in FY 2021. It is expected to reach INR 882.79 Bn by FY 2027, expanding at a CAGR of 21.36% during the FY 2022 - FY 2027 period. Digital healthcare lowers the number of admission and re-admission in hospitals, ensures compliance with the treatment regimen, and facilitates the early detection of ailments, leading to reduced costs for fund providers. Patient-centric care, better patient engagement, improved patient awareness, and access to data in healthcare apps have motivated patients to adopt digital healthcare.

 

The term “Digital Health” is all-encompassing and includes all applications emerging from the intersection of healthcare and technology. The World Health Organization defines digital health as “a broad umbrella term encompassing eHealth, as well as emerging areas, such as the use of advanced computing sciences in ‘big data’, genomics and artificial intelligence”.

 

Digital Health technology has emerged as a pivotal pillar in the delivery of healthcare. In the recent past, the world has witnessed a boom in the health technology market for products such as wearables, telemedicine, e-pharmacies, etc. In addition, there has been tremendous research and development in the integration of technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence, blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT), Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), and virtual reality with pharmaceuticals and healthcare. Accurate delivery of healthcare through technologies and traditional means is also being bridged through the incorporation of ambient computing techniques. The use and scale-up of digital health solutions can revolutionize how people worldwide achieve higher standards of health, and access services to promote and protect their health and well-being.

 

Digital technologies can help healthcare professionals manage their workload, so that they can focus on caring for patients and improve their own quality of life, raising morale while improving quality of care. Digital care is more time-efficient and beneficial to clinic capacity and reduces pressure on healthcare resources. Digital solutions can strengthen the links between patients, healthcare professionals, and innovators, both through applications being directly used by patients and practitioners, and technologies being developed for research purposes.

 

The Government of India launched the flagship program  Digital India Campaign in 2015 which included public health initiatives geared toward the adoption of digital technologies for penetration of healthcare services in rural areas. Subsequently, the National Health Policy in 2017 envisioned a fully digitized healthcare system in India which culminated in the commencement of the Digital Health Mission in India. With the launch of national public health initiatives such as Ayushman Bharat and the National Digital Health Mission, India has an incredible opportunity to become a digital health leader. However, the frictions of adopting digital technologies for patients and clinicians need to be removed in order to achieve this.

This increased focus and endorsement of digital health by the Government makes India a conducive market for innovation in healthcare and creates opportunities for investment.

 

“Harnessing the power of digital technologies is essential for achieving universal health coverage. Ultimately, digital technologies are not ends in themselves; they are vital tools to promote health, keep the world safe, and serve the vulnerable.”

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General

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