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Technology, and how it will shape the future of India’s healthcare

India stands on the threshold of being the third largest economy in the world! No small feat as we enjoin in the 75th year of the Republic of India. To march ahead, there is an inescapable necessity, and that is a nation that is capable of marching on its feet and for that the nation needs good health. The longevity will increase and there will be the emergence of transformative technologies with applications across the healthcare spectrum.

There is a paradigm shift in healthcare, largely thanks to the clinical sense of our doctors and their technical competence. This has been possible through giant leaps in medical technology. That being from the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the black swan period of Covid to the use of devices like impella in cases where there is a cardiac arrest, and to see a patient who may be clinically dead but speaking with the cardiologist!

The frontier we are going to be witnessing in the next decade is mind blowing – from medical devices, IT systems, algorithms, artificial intelligence (AI), cloud, and blockchain, designed to support healthcare organizations.

Newer miniaturized devices are going to see the light of the day in the near future. I have already mentioned the incredible use of impella, a miniaturized pump that sits in the left ventricle and the mouth of the aorta and can pump blood up to 5 liter a minute. The wearable devices are going to be the new monitors for the future where the consultant will be able to monitor the patient remotely and also extend the point-of-care to the doorstep. It will also be care continuum, which would lead to satisfaction and security for the senior citizens. This being so as the alarms would reach the healthcare facility or monitoring stations, and with a link to the consultant. This would herald the proactive response era of medicine. Operating systems will see a plethora of AI inserts, such as tissue differentiation in surgery to automated sensors for cutting and coagulation that will adjust the power automatically for cutting or coagulation. We will experience the creation data that can be used to train medical AI algorithms without compromising patient privacy or even creation of data where there simply is not enough relevant real-world data. The chatbots and virtual assistants will help at every stage of the patient journey. The downside is the need to accept technology and there could be some initiating issues with seniors.

Endovasular surgeries will see a new paradigm where larger lesions than are commonly performed now will be performed. This will result in much faster recovery. Endovascular cardiology will also see many innovations, more use of multivariate lasers. This will most certainly reduce the incidence of restenosis and also reduce the need for having stents put at all or even reduce the number of stents needed.

Electronic medical records and smart cards capturing data are already on the way. The blockchain technology in the healthcare industry offers a user-centered way for health information to be securely gathered, verified, and shared. This will ease the portability and security of data, and make it easy for the healthcare provider to review the historical medical data. It will make multiple consultations seamless.

Diagnostic modalities will see enhancement with genomics and proteomics making their appearance in the realm of clinical medicine. Thus prognostication of a disease about to occur can be predicted with certainty and thereafter either the targeted therapy can be rendered on onset of disease or deferred by preventive medicine. This will be especially beneficial in cases of degenerative disorders as malignancy, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia and also for those pre-diabetics who can get into a remission state and avoid the complications of diabetes.

The medical fraternity is keenly watching the emergence of digital twins. It is a virtual model of what we have in real life of an organ. When digital twins are created, we may see individual human organs being engineered and deceased donor transplants may be augmented also with digital twin organs, where the deceased donor organ is not available and a digital twin is. This may be some time in coming but there is definitive research that is going on.

The option of a virtual hospital was envisioned during Covid and some successful models were created but it has yet to be explored to its full potential. This could be looked at as an advanced version of telemedicine because it will go beyond the simple delivery of remote consultations to an approach to remote patient care and treatment. It may sound futuristic at the moment but I think the reality is not far away.

Healthcare delivery is moving outside the four walls of the hospital. Technology has the potential to revolutionize healthcare in the future. It will help physicians and even technicians to engage with their users across the healthcare value chain. This is because physicians have come to the conclusion that products or services alone, no matter how strong they are technically, will not be enough in future. The use of electronic medical records and AI can help extract insights from patient data to deliver better treatment. In India, technology-based healthcare will be the game changer to serve the underserved.

The impact will be positive and as a professional I am eagerly awaiting the revolutionary change that will transcend healthcare to a new height. 

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