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Game changers in MedTech and digital health

Since the onset of Covid-19, healthcare industry around the world has tackled the pandemic with a combination of technological prowess and clinical expertise. At Kauvery Hospital, disrupted healthcare systems and the need for physical distancing further opened a window of opportunity for a broader implementation of healthtech solutions. During the first Covid wave, our restriction measures required us to evaluate patient-doctor consultation and the need for alternate modes of access to care. This included balancing between delivering care and minimizing risk. One such measure was eliminating hospital visits of patients with milder symptoms to reduce transmission risk. Patients with milder symptoms could rely on homecare through digital consultations and remote vital monitoring.

While this was the scenario with the non-critical patients, a different approach was adopted for in-patient critical care as the nature of complication and severity were much higher.

Since our care team was overwhelmed by the surge in patient flow, we decided to adopt technologies that will aid in sharing their workload. Remote monitoring vitals of patients in the wards, AI detection of sanitation, redirecting all non-medical patient requests to Dial 24/7 team and our step-down ICU implemented a wireless biosensor cardiac patch that measures vitals, such as ECG, pulse rate, and respiratory. The patch sends alerts to a centralized dashboard, which enables the care team to assess the patient’s condition and take measures for a further treatment plan. Automation of asset tracking systems and ambulance processes led to higher organizational efficiency, improved patient flow management, better patient outcomes, and a shorter length of stay.

Soon, we will be adopting an AI-based technology that can help predict abnormalities and future occurrences of certain vulnerabilities. The shift from detecting to predicting abnormalities will pan out in the next few years, changing critical care management.

As awareness of co-morbidities increased during the pandemic, chronic disease management also became a key focus area in the last two years. The mortality rates of diabetes still stand significantly higher in India, compared to Covid in the last two years. Data analysis of chronic illnesses has led to the adoption of innovations, such as non-invasive glucometers, gluco-sensors, and smart watches that help track vital levels on a real-time basis. Nevertheless, we encountered patient obstacles to usage, concerning portability and ease of use. Thus, we upgraded to the most advanced, affordable, and portable remote monitors, which are comfortable and pain-free.

Other chronic conditions like tuberculosis, heart diseases, and sexually transmitted diseases, have been on the rise, creating a demand in the IVD industry. The industry is shifting toward speed, accuracy, and reliability of diagnostic equipment, where the manufacturers will look at a seamless report outcome through automation and digitization. Coupled with AI, this makes for a shorter turnaround time, improved accuracy in image analysis, and streamlined workflow in diagnostic labs.

Early adoption of healthcare technology was something that I became familiar with during my practice in England and Ireland. I witnessed the advancements in medical technology on a daily basis and envisioned implementing the same in the Indian healthcare industry. Having started as a 30-bedded hospital in Trichy, a Tier-II city of Tamil Nadu, our vision was to make great quality healthcare affordable and accessible for everyone. Technological infusion was key in transforming the vision into reality. As an extension of this vision, we set up an innovations arm that would actively pursue startups to partner their solutions within our mainstream operations. As the ecosystem for startups in India is evolving, we have a moral responsibility to help them thrive through the infusion of capital, access to clinicians, and guidance in product development.

Studies indicate 80 percent of MedTech in India is imported. With the National Digital Health Mission and Make in India, the onus is on reducing the dependency on imported healthcare solutions. Medical education in India also needs to update to the latest technological possibilities to improve ground-level adoption in the future. The startup ecosystems and the inclusion of digital solutions in medical education will be the game changers in the growth of Indian healthcare.

As early adopters of technology in healthcare, we at Kauvery Hospital are very excited about the future of patient-centric healthtech in improving the clinical outcomes and the patient experience.

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