Over the past decade, significant advancements and innovative approaches have emerged, promising to revolutionize the delivery of healthcare services and improve health outcomes for millions of Indians. India, with its vast population and diverse healthcare challenges, is poised for a transformative future in the field of healthcare. While you might say that the healthcare scenario was dismal around the 50s to 70’s, since then, particularly in the 80-90s and beyond, there has been a distinct and sharp improvement in the healthcare system. From days when we had very few specializations, we now have plenty and there is confidence that India can treat its people on its own and has the expertise to treat even the rarest of rare diseases in its own geography.
A remarkable change to demonstrate that healthcare has improved a great deal in India is the rise in life expectancy. A combination of personal and public health care has ensured that people can now live up to an average of 71 years, while it was only 30 to 35 years at the time of our independence. We are now also a power in the world of pharma and vaccine development and countries across the globe look to us to share this medical expertise. We are also a popular destination for medical tourism and people from all over the world visiting India for health treatment, unimaginable in the immediate years after Independence. Having said this, India also needs to make its healthcare more accessible and affordable for its population and it is expected that with breakthroughs that will emerge in the future, medical care in India will be affordable. Healthcare sector in India is also expected to reach a size of $188 billion by 2030.
#1 Technology transformation in India will universalize healthcare
Technology will advance with greater maturity and usage of robotics (in surgery), nanotech, biotech (in precision and personalized medicines/ treatment), AI/ML (in image recognition & diagnosis), augmented reality (in better visualization & training), tele-medicine and wearables will only be vast and widespread. Also, with the increasing penetration of smartphones and internet connectivity, telemedicine has emerged as a powerful tool to bridge the gap between patients and healthcare providers, especially in rural and remote areas. It is no longer necessary for there to be the same touch and feel factor that was once believed integral to healthcare delivery. We live in unprecedented times in terms of the power of technology to enable diagnosis, facilitate surgeries, accelerate cures and even prevent diseases.
#2 Tertiary care in India will no longer be the same
New business and treatment models will emerge in India in the immediate future. We see tertiary care undertaken by large, super specialty hospitals, concentrated in particular locations, in metros and urban areas. With technology change and the rise of precision medicine, many healthcare procedures will shift to day care and ultimately to the homes of patients. Advancements in robotics and VR/ AR will enable remote robotic procedures changing the delivery of tertiary healthcare with more distributed therapy/condition-focused centres coming up, instead of the large multi-specialty tertiary facilities of today. Tertiary care essentially will come to the doorstep of citizens. This is a welcome transition as it will only increase coverage, improve patient outcomes and also ensure lesser costs as adoption meets scale and unit economics improve. The speed of technology transformation will harbour more impact in the next 10 years that what was collectively achieved in the past 100 years.
#3 Diagnostics & monitoring will see a paradigm shift
We are already seeing a new era in the Indian healthcare system with the rise of wearables and point-of-care diagnostics. This will witness greater traction in the coming days. We also see greater monitoring of a higher number of medical parameters. Data is being recorded electronically under India’s Digital Health Mission, which has encouraged the adoption of EHR (electronic health records) and enabled the availability of vital data in digitized form. Along with better image recognition/analytics, algorithms will assist doctors in sharper diagnostics, which will change the industry altogether. Diagnostics equipment and medical device players will shift from a primary focus on hospitals (B2B) to end users/patients (B2C) as well. This is being enabled by innovating financing models for capital expenditure and is essential to ensure that not only new tech but existing tech gets universally accepted and disseminated.
#4 Affordable and Accessible Healthcare
The government has been working towards implementing reforms to make quality healthcare affordable and accessible to all. Initiatives like the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) provide health insurance coverage to economically backward sections of society, reducing the financial burden of healthcare expenses. Collaborations between the government and private healthcare providers(PPPs) have the potential to enhance healthcare infrastructure, improve service quality, enable cost-effective healthcare solutions, and strengthen the healthcare system at various levels. In addition, Universal Healthcare data becoming real time available will make healthcare transactions more accurate and result in more lives saved. The more data we have, the greater scope for machine learning and AI to catch up and provide predictive and preventative solutions.
#5 Preventive Healthcare and Wellness
Recognizing the importance of preventive healthcare, India is shifting focus from a curative approach to promoting wellness and disease prevention. Government initiatives such as Fit India Movement and Yoga encourage healthy lifestyles, preventive screenings, and early intervention programs. The integration of technology-driven solutions for behaviour change, such as fitness trackers and personalized wellness apps, further supports this shift. Integrated models are the future of healthcare and it is important that healthcare practitioners and institutions change the way they work to effectively manage the changes to come.
In conclusion, it is fair to say that the Indian healthcare system in the immediate and medium term would look very different from what it has been so far. Fundamentally, it will be more technologically innovative, reach out to people more at their homes or clinics, and hence become more personalized and more affordable. This means that hospitals and medical institutions need to adopt the new business models or else be left out. As for consumers, they will see better access to healthcare and quality of service. All in all, the Indian healthcare system is set for a bright future.
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