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Open digital health ecosystem–A game changer for healthcare industry

A joint publication by BCG and FICCI titled “Leapfrogging to a Digital Healthcare System: Reimaging Healthcare for Every Indian” was released at the 14th FICCI HEAL, (the annual health conference organized by FICCI) by Shri M Venkaiah Naidu, Hon’ble Vice President of India, Dr Sangita Reddy, President FICCI and joint MD Apollo Hospitals, and Mr. Bart Janssens, Managing Director and Senior Partner, Boston Consulting Group. This report will be distributed to the Prime Minister’s Office, NITI Aayog, Chief Ministers, Health Ministers, State ministries and Secretaries among other dignitaries in the public and private sector.

The way we live, and work has been profoundly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to upending our lives the pandemic has also exposed India’s weak healthcare system and reinforced the need to urgently improve all levels of healthcare, including primary care. As is inevitable in times of adversity, the pandemic has also inspired promising innovations, particularly in digital healthcare models. 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.

Surveys conducted by BCG across doctors and patients highlight that 85% of the clinicians used digital platforms for patient interactions during the lockdown. 50% of the clinicians found these platforms to be an effective medium for providing care. Additionally, 60% patients across metro and tier 1 cities reported they would continue using digital platforms for primary care in the post COVID world due to the fundamental benefits of shorter waiting time and easy access to qualified doctors. In addition, as per reports, the lockdown period saw teleconsultation services being accessed by over 2000 small towns, with 80% patients being first time users.

We are now at the cusp of the digital 3.0 era of Open Digital Ecosystems that represents a fundamental change in the way the government can leverage technology for public care delivery and enable private sector innovation. It entails creation of a shared public digital infrastructure that can be leveraged by both public and private players to deploy new solutions that enhance the end-user experience. Just like the creation of shared digital infrastructure in the financial industry enabling UPI payments, the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM), in the next few years, will catalyze a robust digital infrastructure for the Indian healthcare ecosystem. As per the report, it is estimated that over the next decade, NDHM can potentially unlock an incremental value of INR 1.5 lakh crore for the healthcare industry.

The report undertakes a collaborative approach to ensure that multiple perspectives across government bodies, private sector entities, developers, and the user community are brought to the forefront. It aims to drive active stakeholder discussions to help accelerate India’s journey towards a healthcare system that puts the patient at the center of all solutions and drives accessible, affordable and quality healthcare all.

Dr Indu Bhushan, CEO NHA and PM-JAY, said “With the guiding principles outlined in the National Digital Health Blueprint (NDHB), the government has laid out a comprehensive strategy to bring a fundamental transformation in healthcare and open a range of market opportunities for all stakeholders. This report details out how the entire ecosystem will gain, and the industry will be galvanized as a result of the implementation of NDHB over the next few years.”

Dr Sangita Reddy, President FICCI and joint MD, Apollo Hospitals said “There is an urgent need to shift to a new care delivery paradigm that leverages public technology infrastructure. This needs to be done while ensuring patient-centricity, and adequate digital security. It is great to see that this timely and pertinent report has been put together to drive active discussions amongst the stakeholders.”

Bart Janssens, Managing Director and Senior Partner, BCG said “We anticipate that over the next 10 years, NDHM can unlock incremental economic value of over USD 200 billion for the healthcare sector. Public and private ecosystem players will have to realign their operating models to capture this value and stay ahead of the curve. This will pave way for more patient-centric solutions driving accessible, affordable and quality healthcare for all.”

Dr Alok Roy, Chair, FICCI Health Services Committee and Chairman, Medica Group of Hospitals said, “The need to accelerate changes in our health care system is an obvious inference of this pandemic. The advent of an open digital health ecosystem will unleash a new wave of innovation and transform the way primary healthcare is delivered in India. As illustrated in this detailed report, the health ODE will enable patients who are under-served by the physical healthcare infrastructure to access high quality healthcare, by leveraging a common digital infrastructure”

MB Bureau

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