IoT & In­dian Health­care Sys­tem

BioSpectrum (India) - - BIO CONTENT - RAVI RA­MASWAMY, Chair­man of Health­care Work­ing Group, IET In­dia IoT Panel and Sr. Di­rec­tor & Head Health Sys­tems, Philips In­no­va­tion Cam­pus.

Health for All has been talked about for the last sev­eral decades but then it has not seen the light of the day yet – ac­ces­si­bil­ity to Pri­mary and Se­condary care is still a dis­tant dream in our Ru­ral / Semi ur­ban com­mu­ni­ties. If you con­sider Ur­ban In­dia, a pop­u­la­tion of 100 mil­lion is sup­ported by 520,000 doc­tors, while 280 mil­lion in Semi­ur­ban is man­aged by 200,000 doc­tors and in ru­ral – 830 mil­lion are taken care by just 65,000 doc­tors. As can be seen, there is a com­plete im­bal­ance in need Vs avail­abil­ity.

The 3 main is­sues that plague In­dia are Cost, Qual­ity and Ac­cess. We have not been able to de­cen­tral­ize health­care – move it away from where the com­pe­tency is avail­able (Ter­tiary Cen­ters and Cor­po­rate Hos­pi­tals) to where it is needed (Pri­mary / Se­condary care clin­ics). Take any in­fra­struc­ture and it lacks abysmally. The ra­tio of beds to pa­tients, Doc­tors to pa­tients, Nurses to pa­tients, CT/ MR ma­chines to pa­tients; they are all far be­low global av­er­ages – even when ranked among the de­vel­op­ing coun­tries.

But now, medicine is en­ter­ing an age of de­moc­ra­ti­za­tion as power shifts from hos­pi­tals, doc­tors and other care­givers to pa­tients, po­ten­tially lead­ing to dra­matic health care im­prove­ments. Given the tech­nol­ogy adop­tion trends, the in­creased aware­ness among providers and con­sumers, the time is right for the health­care in­dus­try in In­dia to ag­gres­sively em­brace the dig­i­tal revo­lu­tion. But the true power of dig­i­tal lies in pro­vid­ing care so­lu­tions to pa­tients ex­tend­ing from healthy liv­ing, pre­ven­tion, early di­ag­no­sis, treat­ment to man­ag­ing the pa­tient at home or in the com­mu­nity and fur­ther ex­tend­ing this to the home or pri­mary care cen­ters for chronic dis­ease pa­tients.

Can we ride the tele­com/mo­bile in­fra­struc­ture to make this hap­pen? Can we use sen­sors to pick up data and trans­mit them to cen­tral con­trol sta­tions where ex­perts mon­i­tor and sup­port dis­pen­sa­tion of care? Cou­pled with the fact that In­dia has over 850 Mil­lion mo­bile users as also over 150 Mil­lion in­ter­net users, In­ter­net of Things (IoT) can cer­tainly be put to use for de­cen­tral­iza­tion of health­care.

IoT is not new, but has been gain­ing more at­ten­tion and trac­tion lately. The con­cept of the IoT en­tails the use of elec­tronic de­vices that cap­ture or mon­i­tor data and are con­nected to a pri­vate or pub­lic cloud, en­abling them to au­to­mat­i­cally trig­ger cer­tain events. Health­care prac­ti­tion­ers are closely watch­ing the de­vel­op­ment of this trend to see if the IoT will be a part of their fu­ture. In­ter­net-con­nected de­vices have been in­tro­duced to pa­tients in var­i­ous forms. Whether data comes from fe­tal mon­i­tors, elec­tro­car­dio­grams, tem­per­a­ture mon­i­tors or blood glu­cose lev­els, track­ing health in­for­ma­tion is vi­tal for some pa­tients. Many of these mea­sures re­quire fol­low-up in­ter­ac­tion with a health­care pro­fes­sional. This cre­ates an open­ing for smarter de­vices to de­liver more valu­able data, less­en­ing the need for direct pa­tient-physi­cian in­ter­ac­tion.

Over a pe­riod of time, In­dia will be based on the data col­lected from IoT de­vices, build­ing a stag­ger­ing amount of health­care data that would be spread among hos­pi­tals, pri­mary care providers, re­searchers, health in­sur­ers, and state and cen­tral gov­ern­ments— just to name a few.

How­ever, in ad­di­tion to ag­gre­gat­ing a mas­sive amount of data, there comes the chal­lenge of main­tain­ing pa­tient pri­vacy. As per Spradlin, fig­ur­ing out how to lever­age that in­for­ma­tion to de­liver bet­ter qual­ity care to pa­tients while keep­ing it se­cure is a ma­jor chal­lenge.

Or­gan­i­sa­tions will have to come to­gether and in­te­grate ideas and tech­nolo­gies, as well as put the right tal­ent and tech­nol­ogy in place. They should also struc­ture work­flows and in­cen­tives to pen­e­trate / op­ti­mize de­ploy­ment of IoT so­lu­tions. If all these is­sues can be ad­dressed, then IoT can be a game changer and we can un­leash the full po­ten­tial of IoT.



Chair­man of Health­care Work­ing Group, IET In­dia IoT Panel and Sr. Di­rec­tor & Head - Health Sys­tems, Philips In­no­va­tion Cam­pus.

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