By Suresh Pattathil
The pandemic facilitated innovative practices which have transformed healthcare as we know it today. While making healthcare accessible to a larger section of the community, it also exposed the need for further enhancement of patient-centric facilities for better health outcomes.
While some have become comfortable accessing healthcare services online, many continue to go to great lengths to avail basic amenities. Current statistics suggest that about 800 million people still have little or no access to health services in the developing world. This poses a great challenge for India’s varied demographic that houses a high chronic disease burden which has a significant economic impact. As we move forward, innovation and technology need to be integrated within the healthcare industry to understand patient needs better. Responsible innovation can range from something as simple as universal health coverage to make medical care accessible to all.
Revamping healthcare to become patient-centric
Despite advances in the field of health and medicine, poor outcomes arising from delayed diagnosis of the disease are very common in India. Unmet medical needs can come up due to financial insecurity, socio-economic disparity, or inequitable treatment for patients across different strata. In our country, where insurance coverage is still at a nascent stage, ensuring universal health coverage can be one way to tackle disparity. Though certain populations are covered by public health schemes like Ayushman Bharat–Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (ABPM-JAY) and central government health schemes, the middle-class continues to bear the brunt of the economic impact. This is compounded by increasing healthcare costs and an ageing population. The recent initiatives of the government to address this middle income segment of the population through and expansion of the Ayushman Bharat – PMJAY scheme is very much welcome.
Redressal of these current patient care challenges is essential to match the global health curriculum. India needs an additional 3 million beds, nearly 4 million healthcare professionals (HCPs) and enhanced investments across the country’s length and breadth to meet its burgeoning healthcare needs. Though stakeholders and systems are beginning to tackle some of these needs with the help of awareness campaigns and preventive screenings, there is a pressing need for resources and allied services to be drastically scaled up. Under circumstances of poor resource availability, incorporating out-of-the-box solutions to move patients from post-symptomatic treatment to pre-symptomatic screening is the need of the hour. Along with traditional channels, social media campaigns can play an important role in encouraging people to adopt healthier lifestyles. Other incentives such as income tax rebates or financial stimuli that support regular screening programs can also be initiated.
Innovation for alleviating the healthcare burden
Since the pandemic, telehealth and digital health have come to the fore. If leveraged appropriately, they can play a critical role in reducing patient load, solving the problem of human capital, and addressing any gaps in the system or global health challenges especially to manage chronic disease.
Digital transformation in healthcare can also play a significant role in disease surveillance and make it more proactive. Collecting and analysing real-time patient data and integrating it with a centralised database can identify interventions related to unmet basic needs, map disease prognosis in an efficient manner and lower overall healthcare costs for the population. Employing advanced diagnostics can also reduce the long-term burden of diseases. Bringing modernity to medicine can thus streamline clinical processes, optimise approaches, and help map out future trends.
Simultaneously, in this era of personalised medicine, India can envision a future in the global healthcare industry by ensuring collaboration between academia and pharma companies to fuel state-of-the-art innovation.
Innovation must be done responsibly
Technology and innovation can not only help us uncover potential disease trends but also treat the unmet needs of a patient. India-specific healthcare needs can be met with innovation on both the digital and policy fronts. While keeping the patient at the centre of the care matrix, public policies must be aligned in a manner that uplifts technological intervention and makes healthcare accessible to all.
By Suresh Pattathil, General Manager, AbbVie India
(DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and ETHealthworld does not necessarily subscribe to it. ETHealthworld.com shall not be responsible for any damage caused to any person / organisation directly or indirectly)