Digitalization has democratized healthcare: Experts at BioVoice News e-Conference

Prominent digital healthcare stakeholders shared their valuable insights at the e- Conference on "India’s roadmap to Digital Healthcare: Challenges & Opportunities" organized by the BioVoice News on April 30, 2022

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New Delhi: “The digital healthcare first started as a matter of convenience. The idea was to make it convenient for the patient and doctor to interact through digital medium, understand the problem and come to an appropriate solution. Going forward, the question is how do we bring care in this part, not just convenience,” says Dr. Raja Indana, Medical Director, MFine.
“Hopefully, after a couple of years we can influence the outcomes. More digital acceptance, like let’s say, wearable devices that are collecting lot of vitals could be used to predict any event. This transformation to collect the data and guide so that we can prevent long term complications can we bring in better health outcomes with diabetes, hypertension, pregnancy, and child growth. There is a lot of data that is coming and it can influence better pregnancy outcomes, better lifestyle disease outcomes better milestone tracking in Pediatrics. Earlier when digital health was not there, the point of care was more at the hospital but now the point of care is coming to where the patient is!” elaborates Dr Indana.
Dr Indana spoke at the e- Conference on “India’s roadmap to Digital Healthcare: Challenges & Opportunities” organized by the BioVoice News, India’s leading digital news media platform for the coverage of Indian life sciences sector on April 30, 2022. The virtual event was moderated by Rahul Koul, Chief Editor, BioVoice News.
The digital healthcare has democratized the whole system which means that doctors are now available from any place and one can avail the services without any hitch, feels Ajay Sharma, Co-founder, COO & Operations Head, DESH Clinic.
“There are places where one never thought of availing the best of the doctors from best of the hospital. But now we are able to do that. So the change has happened and people have accepted this as the way of getting the treatment, With the increase in tele-consultation numbers, government in March 2020 issued guidelines on the proper way of providing the healthcare consultation over calls. This showed that the government officials were proactive or may be reactive, but very fast enough to bring that. It helped in creating a system where patient knew that he is taking consultation from a proper doctor and can track doctor’s qualification etc. The second was the prescription has to be there, which means that it is not just sending the name of the medicine over the WhatsApp but being serious enough to do an appropriate diagnosis. Therefore, now people realize that they don’t need to necessarily go to a doctor physically for every disease and that certain things could be actually managed over the phone,” Mr. Sharma informed.
The digital healthcare is not necessarily a replacement to the existing healthcare ecosystem, believes Enbasekar D, Co-Founder & CTO, MediBuddy.
“It’s definitely emerging as a very key component of the journey of a patient through the healthcare ecosystem. but not a replacement for non digital or the conventional healthcare. And second, it’s definitely not a substitute for the clinical knowledge, not a substitute for the human understanding, the empathy that a medical professional would bring to healthcare. The best role of digital lies in improving these processes manifold and make it easier for health care professionals to deliver healthcare. In my opinion, it is not a substitute for the human touch needed in healthcare,” adds Enbasekar.
“Digital healthcare is much beyond what we normally perceive it to be, says Himanshu Sikka, Project Director, SAMRIDH Blended Finance Facility.
“People might think of WhatsApp too as digital health but it is much more beyond that. Things like remote robotic surgeries in traditional setups, digital X ray machines, CT scan machines, all of that constitutes digital. Digital healthcare has been used a lot in the last few years. The services such as mobile phone based consultation, e-pharmacies are taking the care outside of the traditional setup of the hospital towards where the patient is, whether it’s at their home or at a primary healthcare centre. But if you were to look at the overall picture, it is quite wide. Therefore, it is important to look at the integration of digital health across the spectrum from point of care devices to mobile health applications, and e-pharmacies. We must see how they use technology within their operations, be it the hospital management information systems or technology devices. It makes the scope much wider than a narrow definition,” opines Mr. Sikka.
The discussion points at the e-Conference included Decoding digital healthcare: Definition, Stakeholders & Scope; Lessons from COVID-19: How has the pandemic accelerated digital adoption?; Reimagining the future healthcare with digital technologies interventions; Use of digital technology to strengthen patient-doctor relationship; Electronic Medical Record: Relevance of digital in hospital settings; Patient data protection; Preparing the digitally skilled workforce of future; and Policy push & regulatory framework for fast tracking digital in healthcare.
Sharing the objective behind the e-Conference, Rahul Koul, Chief Editor, BioVoice News said, “The idea behind this event was to bring forth fresh perspectives on the current digital healthcare scenario in India. From the telemedicine guidelines being announced in March 2020 to the launch of national digital health ID in August 2020, we have just started to see the digital era in healthcare take shape. In the recent budget, we have seen the allocation of whopping Rs. 1600 crore for creation of a shared public digital infrastructure. Many reports have estimated that over the next decade, NDHM can potentially unlock an incremental value of Rs. 1.5 lakh crore for the healthcare industry. While India’s dream of a digital health ecosystem appears might appear to be an uphill task but it certainly isn’t impossible to achieve it.”