Introduction

Digitisation and digital transformation are probably the most obvious buzzwords and current trends in healthcare today, says Chirayush Shah.

Writing on the Wall – Digital Healthcare is the Future
  • Client

    Ayukrt Innovation Pvt Ltd.

  • Services

    Digitisation and digital transformation

  • Technologies

    Automation

  • Dates

    04/10/2017

Description

Traditionally in healthcare consumers had to follow systems and models suitable to service providers. Patients' principal interface to healthcare services was with a primary care physician. Medical knowledge regarding disease and treatment were defined and disseminated solely by physicians. Continuous monitoring and care required regular visits with the health care personnel (HCP), demanding time, cost, resource and inconveniences such as travel, particularly in remote areas.

 

The greater complexity of medical practice, a progressively ageing population, rising cost of diseases management, increased demand for better healthcare, changing consumers’ behaviours and expectation, and rise in chronic diseases all necessitated a must reform in traditional healthcare systems. Thus an evolution towards improving services, lower costs across the system and allow a lot of people to take better control of their own health begun.

 

If consumers can exercise customising experiences in nearly every other transaction from banking to e-commerce, why not healthcare?

 

Digital technology has led to a global revolution. Digital is transforming the way the world does business, and healthcare is no exception. Digitisation and digital transformation are probably the most obvious buzzwords and current trends in healthcare today.

 

While in traditional healthcare system, the time between symptom presentations, physical examination, laboratory testing, analyses and revisits, can often stretch too long, compromising services and delivery of optimum healthcare plans, digital solutions allow patients to remotely self-assess their condition and seek medical support when required. Instant counselling, mobile technologies and real-time HCP-patient communication are all enabling new and more efficient ‘virtual care’ environment.

 

Digital devices enable communication between physicians and primary, secondary or tertiary care centres, reducing overall screening costs, enhancing communication, minimising error and making screening possible in difficult-to-reach populations. Services have soared at all levels; patients are more empowered with their treatment decision-making process, safe and secured storage of electronic health records (EHRs) easily accessible by HCPs and medical experts, enabling HCPs remote monitoring of patients, telemedicine and on-line consultancy allows constant feedback loops between the patient, the HCP and the expert medical community. The entire health ecosystem is being transformed by digital connectivity giving patients 24x7 access to healthcare – anytime, anywhere.

 

For example, if a family member wakes up disoriented at 2 am after starting a new medication, one need not panic and/or rush to visit the local emergency room. Instead, you could snap a photo of the medication bottle and text it to an on-call physician for an instant consult. Or what if you’re nervous about a rash your child is developing? An app such as ‘AYUKRT’ allows you to take a picture of the affected area and send it immediately to a dermatologist for diagnosis — no office visit necessary.

 

 “I think the biggest innovations of the twenty-first century will be the intersection of biology and technology” – Steve Jobs, as told to Walter Isaacson.

 

Digital Healthcare technology is pushing boundaries, broadening its scope every day and with it, the opportunities. From heart rate monitors built into watches to glucose monitors integrated into contact lenses, the healthcare industry is heading into some interesting and revolutionary times. Today, palm-sized breast cancer scanning device uses LED to capture images of the breast, uploads them on a cloud platform and notifies the user when to seek medical assistance. Wearable devices keep a record of patient’s blood glucose levels, store the data on a cloud platform and enable physicians to remotely track abnormalities.

 

Once it was said ‘An apple a day keeps doctor away’, now the buzz is – ‘An App a day keeps doctor away’. From the Apple Watch to the Fitbit, wearable technology is revolutionising how we manage our health, educating and empowering individuals to lead a healthy life. Wearable technologies also have a key role in the future of digital health as they gain traction in user adoption.

 

The consumers are expecting the same experience from healthcare as they are getting when they watch a movie, when they get their hair cut and when they go to the restaurant: they want personalised experience, on their terms.

 

Digital innovations are transforming patient care, offering unprecedented treatment and cost efficiencies. Smart watches to alert patients when it’s time to take their pills, wrist-worn devices to track blood pressure, and sensor-equipped “smart socks” that can warn diabetics when they are at risk for foot ulcers. A wearable band for the wrist that detects falls and requires the user to press a button to signal that they are ok after a fall. If the signal does not come, an alert is sent to caregivers. It also measures heart rate, movement, and body temperature. Futuristic solutions like a T-shirt that can keep track of wearer’s stress levels, and even send vital signs to family members and doctors using its thread-based health sensors, will help prevent everything from heart failure to seizures. These are just few examples of how cutting-edge innovations to date have revolutionised each stage of the patient lifecycle.

 

The entrepreneurs, technology and healthcare giants, all are willing to invest and reinvent the system, enabling business models to evolve, unleashing the potential of healthcare to provide personalised and tailor-made experiences to consumers. It is not only an era of disruption, but also one of opportunity, growth and innovation.

 

A patient survey predicts that 75% of all patients expect to use digital services in the future. How much time does the average person spend with healthcare professionals? Even patients with long term health conditions spend on an average just five-seven hours a year interacting with a clinician. The rest of the time, patients are looking after themselves. Patients' day-to-day decisions have a tremendous impact on their health, to lead a healthy life, it is essential that each patient be an active, informed participant in the entire healthcare process. There is a link between a well-educated patient and improved health outcomes. The digital healthcare has a vital role to play in educating and empowering patients to lead a healthy life.

 

As healthcare is undergoing digitisation, digital revolution is transforming pharma globally. Pharmaceuticals and Life-Sciences industry has an opportunity to leverage the vast capabilities of data, and technology to empower the doctor to reclaim mastery in patient care. Technology can help patients manage their own health and help doctors make better decisions. Pharma marketers can play the role of coach to help patients on their journey, when the physician just can't be there.

 

The global pharmaceutical companies are investing heavily in technology, seeking to enhance the potential for their medicines through beyond-the-pill initiatives. As healthcare continues to digitise, Indian pharma companies must embrace a similar level of disruption and radically rethink its engagement with patients and doctors. The pharma marketers must look beyond the task of selling medicine and enact bold, visionary change to provide beyond-the-pills services to patients and help doctors succeed by: Empowering doctors to reclaim mastery in patient care, aiding in diagnosis and selection of treatment, and improving physician-patient relationship. The slow adoption of technology by Indian Pharmaceuticals and Lifesciences companies is probably driven by myths or information that is no longer true.

 

Myth 1. People don’t want to use digital services for healthcare.

A patient survey conducted by Mckinsey predicts that 75% of all patients expect to use digital services in the future. Most respondents would like to use digital healthcare services, as long as those services meet their needs and provide quality services.

 

Myth 2. Only young people want to use digital services.

A Mckinsey survey shows patients from all age groups are more than willing to use digital services for healthcare. Younger patients want access to health-promotion and prevention, while older patients need information about acute and chronic conditions.

 

Myth 3. Patients want innovative features and apps.

The companies often think they need to be innovative when designing their digital service offerings. But the core features patients expect are: efficiency, better information, integration with other channels and availability of a real person when digital services do not give what they need.

 

Today’s patient is more educated, more sophisticated, more technologically advanced, more diligent, more cautious, more anxious than ever before! If we compare the speed of adoption of technologies, it took the telephone 75 years to reach 50 million users, whereas radio took only 38 years, TV a mere 13 years and Facebook achieved the same number of users in only 3.5 years.

 

Patients want convenience, comfort, confidence and communication. For consumers, convenience has always been king – and convenient and cheap? Well there is no beating that.

Understanding what patients want, and what purely myth is, NOW is the time for Pharmaceuticals to go all in on digital strategies. The digital healthcare is evolving fast and Digital is the Future.

 

With the healthcare sector expected to touch $158.2 billion by 2017, one should not harbour a doubt that digital Health Services would bite into a large portion of the pie. Of course, non-digital channels will continue to be relevant and important so digital channels will have to be embedded in a well-thought manner through multichannel concept. M-health is probably one of the largest sectors within digital healthcare in India, with an estimated market size of Rs 2,083 crore in 2015, which is set to rise to Rs 5,184 crore by 2020 (source: PWC 2015).

-Chirayush Shah

 

The author is Founder & CEO, Ayukrt Innovation Pvt Ltd. Mobile: +91 9167292555. Email: chirayush@ayukrt.com

 

Captions

Pix1: GE Healthcare recently launched the First-Ever Mammography System that Allows Patients to Control their Compression by Remote Control

Pix2: A patient survey conducted by Mckinsey predicts that 75% of all patients expect to use digital services in the future.

Pix3: Patients want convenience, comfort, confidence and communication.

Author

Chirayush Shah

The author is Founder & CEO, Ayukrt Innovation Pvt Ltd. Mobile: +91 9167292555. Email: chirayush@ayukrt.com

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