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India Inc. pitches for healthcare tech innovation; seeks business-friendly policies

India’s healthcare system is poised to be transformed into an integrated, interconnected, effective and patient-centric model by 2035. Several factors support this prediction, including rapid technological advancements, increasing government investment and growing awareness of the importance of holistic healthcare.

This shift will be facilitated by the convergence of multiple technologies, such as AI, natural language processing (NLP) and robotics, as well as innovative collaborations among diverse stakeholders across the healthcare ecosystem. These will fundamentally change the patient journey, resulting in drastically improved health outcomes and a much-enriched patient experience.

Forthcoming digital revolution in healthcare
Healthcare technology innovation and adoption in India will create new markets and establish a tremendous opportunity for healthcare providers and start-ups to expand their reach, offer new services and serve patients more efficiently. By 2035, it is predicted that the following changes will occur:

  • A shift towards preventive, predictive, and more personalised healthcare services: The integration of modern technologies, such as NLP, will enable patients to make better choices by becoming better informed and exhibiting a preference for paths that offer seamless, transparent and frictionless care. Technologies such as sensors, genetic analysis and AI will enhance the early detection of diseases and risk factors and promote preventive care.
  • A transition of care delivery from hospitals to home: Telemedicine, remote patient monitoring, home-based healthcare delivery and mobile health apps, which have been growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) greater than 30 percent since the outbreak of Covid-19 in 2020, will continue to gain traction, improving access to healthcare services, particularly in rural and historically underserved areas. The advent of Internet of Things (IoT) devices and robotics will further augment the shift of healthcare delivery from hospital to non-hospital settings, such as home. In a decade, most patient healthcare tasks in India may be performed remotely using telehealth technology rather than a traditional clinical environment; at-home advanced healthcare services may in fact become the accepted norm.
  • Less dependence on hospitals and doctors: The collection of massive amounts of data will aid in the development of algorithms that will help develop AI- and NLP-based decision support tools for physicians. Such tools will reduce physicians’ workload and mitigate doctor shortages by supporting their diagnostic tasks with evidence-based recommendations. This will enable patients to receive more prompt, accurate and personalised diagnoses and prescription recommendations remotely.
  • Advancements in highly sensitive miniaturised sensors and robotics, combined with machine learning (ML) and artificial learning methodologies, will simplify even the most complex surgeries and significantly reduce the time required to train doctors, mitigate patient risk and improve surgical outcomes.
  • Innovative new-age interventions will improve patient outcomes throughout the patient journey in all therapeutic areas: Technological shifts will create several opportunities for the life sciences industry to innovate and develop new products and services to enhance patient outcomes throughout all therapeutic areas and stages.

Healthcare reforms
The Indian government has demonstrated commitment to healthcare reforms, as evidenced by the National Health Policy, e-Sanjeevani and the ambitious Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM). Furthermore, the National Health Portal established by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for Indian citizens will act as a single source for consolidated health information in the future.

As healthcare providers, insurers, government agencies and technology companies work towards a unified and integrated system, seamless data exchange and collaboration will be increasingly emphasised. Enhanced interoperability will foster innovative partnerships among diverse stakeholders, allowing the development of holistic and patient-centric solutions. For example, collaborations between pharmaceutical companies, diagnostic labs and healthcare providers can streamline patient care, reduce wait times and improve treatment outcomes. Moreover, enhanced data-sharing capabilities will empower patients to take control of their health information and make informed decisions about their care.

How can global healthcare organisations grow and expand in India?
The vast potential of the Indian healthcare market, coupled with the ongoing digital transformation, presents significant opportunities for global companies looking to expand their businesses. However, to successfully penetrate this market, they must focus on localisation, collaboration and technological integration to develop value-based solutions by investing in digital healthcare platforms.

Key requirements that will enable and facilitate the implementation of these shifts in India’s healthcare ecosystem:

  • Policy and regulations: The government should create clear, consistent and business-friendly policies that encourage foreign investment in India’s healthcare sector.
  • Infrastructure development: Although its digital infrastructure is improving, further enhancement specifically in rural and remote areas is necessary to ensure the widespread reach of healthcare services.
  • Data privacy and security: Given the sensitive nature of health-related data, the government must establish robust data protection laws to build trust between users and providers.
  • Interoperability standards: The government should establish and enforce standards that facilitate interoperability between various healthcare technologies by encouraging seamless data exchange.
  • Education and training: Investment in education and training programmes will ensure that healthcare providers are equipped to utilise new technologies, thereby enhancing adoption rates.

India can enhance the healthcare system for its population, which has long been deprived of optimal access to healthcare. CII Blog

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