Technology Major Game Changer in Healthcare Sector

There has been a sharp increase in India in the number of health tech startups -about 60 per cent of the total number of companies -in the past few years and these have attracted funding worth over $100 million since 2014.


The impact of Technological advancements on human life is not complete without the role of Information Technology, which has successfully reshaped our lives in ways unimaginable even a decade or two ago.

Hence all-pervading nature of Information Technology is culminated with huge demand for education in the said field. The steady rise in the number of students opting to specialize in Information Technology is a testimony for that. Education in Information Technology imparts the knowledge through which the needs of users within an organizational and societal context can be met.

The era of the telegram is now officially over and access to information is not just at our doorsteps but at our fingertips, due to the availability of communication tools like mobile phones, computers and the internet. It is no wonder then that technology has played a key role in healthcare as well, and has the potential to completely change the way we deal with a disease at various stages.

The current government rightly focuses on using technology to improve the dismal standards of basic healthcare, not just for the urban population but also for people living in rural settings in remotest corners of ‘Bharat’ which is home to almost 70 percent of our country's population.

With global expertise and seamless cross-platform functionality, multifarious IT solutions have been created that empower companies to focus on, and enhance their core businesses. Increasingly, healthcare organizations are leveraging analytics to gain insights that solve inefficiencies and streamline workflows. Since all areas of Education have benefitted immensely by IT, Technology has been a major game-changer in the manner in which healthcare services are being delivered in India. In this regard, the private sector is the major driving force behind technology adoption in the Indian healthcare segment.

To optimize costs and effectively manage operations, IT solutions have become an integral part of process management, patient care and the management information system (MIS) in hospitals. With the health insurance sector poised for major growth in the coming decade, increasing demand from this sector for more efficient systems for storage and retrieval of information will put pressure on hospitals and other healthcare providers to imbibe technology to modernize existing infrastructure.

EHRs (Electronic Health Record) too, may have posed major challenges that persist in health IT, most of them have led to reduced physician productivity and produced cumbersome federal regulations, and there is broad consensus on the benefits of health IT. Chief among the benefits are obstacles to interoperability, including a lack of commonly agreed on health data interchange standards. These benefits include the ability to use data analytics and big data to effectively manage population health programs and reduce the incidence of expensive chronic health conditions, the use of cognitive computing and analytics to perform precision medicine tailored to individual patients, the ability to share health data among academic researchers to develop new medical therapies and drugs, and the rights of patients to obtain and use their own health data and collaborate in their own care with clinicians.

In India, healthcare software is still a small part of the total healthcare IT segment, comprising only about 9 per cent There are about 150 companies operating in this space in India and they are creating products and solutions for a global customer and finding acceptance. There has been a sharp increase in India in the number of health tech startups -about 60 per cent of the total number of companies -in the past few years and these have attracted funding worth over $100 million since 2014.

India has been aggressively experimenting with IT in healthcare, with notable progress in m-health, tele-medicine and e-health. Many of these services are ready to take the next step and be scaled up to achieve their true potential. The use of IT in healthcare can be the first big step in improving the primary healthcare network in the country.

The convergence of healthcare with upcoming technologies such as cloud computing and wireless technologies will play a key role in improving accessibility and meeting the challenge of manpower shortage.

The coming years are expected to witness greater deployment of tools such as telemedicine, teleradiology, hospital information systems (HIS)/hospital management information systems (HMIS), online or electronic medical records (EMR). The private and public healthcare sectors in India have viewed each other with mistrust, and to get them to work in tandem is not an easy task.

Efforts need to be made towards building confidence and fostering cooperation. This is where the true advantage of IT lies. Technology is available to doctors in both the sectors and can be used for notifying, reporting and following up on medical cases.

Concurrently, the IVF industry in India is booming. Assisted reproductive technology (ART), the technology used in IVF procedures has grown by leaps and bounds in the last few years. It is now being increasingly available to infertile couples in both developed and developing countries. Furthermore, as the economy has expanded, many infertile couples can now afford the sophisticated ART treatment.

As technologies advance, IVF is going to become better, cheaper and simpler. In ten years from now, we can imagine every gynaecologist to practice IVF as they will no longer have to set up their own laboratory, the most critical part of IVF practice. There will be a central lab miles away and IVF could be done in any individual chamber by availing its service. In other words, the scientific part of IVF will be taken care of by a central laboratory, while doctors will solely focus on the clinical part. With this, more and more people will be able to avail of IVF at a cheaper cost.

The role of IVF as of today is much beyond helping infertile couples conceive and enable women to extend their fertile years. Rather, It has become an important tool for pre-selection of embryos to identify healthy ones free of any disease. This technology, called pre-implant genetic diagnosis, allows the couple to genetically test embryos and only transfer those that are genetically healthy.

So, if you or your partner have a genetic illness or condition in your family and are worried about passing it on to your children, PGD could give you some peace of mind. The first report of pre-implantation genetic testing in humans with a pregnancy resulting was published in 1990. Major improvements in these technologies have been developed since then. Both the embryo biopsy techniques as well as the genetics technologies used on cells removed from embryos have improved dramatically.

Another technique, pre-implantation genetic screening, helps to examine the embryos on a chromosomal level. By only keeping the embryos with the correct number of chromosomes for transfer, the chances of miscarriage are minimal.Embryo screening will greatly reduce the incidence of babies born with genetic defects, providing a major relief to parents and society as a whole.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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