Digital Healthcare and Telecom
Reference notes for my panel discussion on Technology in Healthcare at MedClave 2021, a hybrid event organised by CII TN. Co-panelists Dr.Sathish Devadoss, Sharmila Devadoss, Dr.Uma Nambiar, Ranjit Kovilinkal)
(Pic courtesy: LinkedIn post by Dr. Sathish Devadoss)
Healthcare and telecom sectors intersect quite beautifully — both thrive on reliability, availability, and security & privacy, and scale. Telecom technologies have had a proven impact across the healthcare value chain. So far, primarily solving the challenges of
- Reach and Coverage
- Connectivity and information
And the telecom adoption in healthcare, so far, has been underpinned by Mobility, IoT, and Cloud.
Connected healthcare workers — Mobility is the lifeline of ASHA, ANM, Anganwadi workers who ensure care is available in villages.
Another scale example is the bundling of health insurance with mobile plans. Vi Hospicare insurance packs are a case in point.
Patient/Customer Engagement at Hospitals and Retail Pharma — The pandemic has accentuated the need to be available for customers and patients 24x7. Cloud Telephony solutions such as Auto-receptionist, inquiry management, and toll-free have seen wide adoption, thus enabling teleconsultation and appointment booking. Privacy of patient healthcare data is a key concern and this led to the adoption of Device Security management solutions.
IoT & Fixed Connectivity– Enabled with a 24x7 calling solution, automated call distribution, tracking of ambulances thus serving as a lifeline for the needy.
Healthcare providers are using VPN services for managing PACS (Picture Archiving and Communication System) for radiology. The dedicated VPN helps them assess high-quality images.
The true industrialisation of Mobility, IoT, and Cloud has delivered an impact across the healthcare value chain.
Care and beyond
What else could be expected from telecom for healthcare? We must think scale when we attempt to answer this.
Diabetes condition management — It is reported that India has a 70 million+ diabetic population. A cellular-connected glucometer bundled in an as-a-service (everything-as-a-service is an interesting economy, on which I will share my thoughts separately) model and offered by clinics! It not only helps monitor the condition on a real-time basis but can also potentially affect preventive action, especially when blood glucose levels cross the thresholds!
Supply Chain solutions- The pandemic has emphasised the need for a highly ‘visible’ and manageable supply chain. Monitoring the condition of temperature-sensitive drugs and vaccines in transit is ultra-critical. IoT and more importantly Integrated IoT, encompassing end-to-end solutions including application, device, and cellular connectivity, fulfills the need better. This for us, at Vi Business, is going beyond a Telco to a Techco.
5G opens a new realm of possibilities. As an example, it can help solve the age-old problem of poor doctor-to-patient ratio or advanced tele-consultation in rural areas. The ongoing 5G trials at Vi are focusing on tele-consultation for rural on 5G networks. Read more here. The potential of 5G could be imagined in many other life-saving scenarios.
The digital transformation of healthcare is probably already in mission-critical mode. What should we imagine and hope for as the next for Healthcare?
I would like to imagine that the trifecta of Digital and tech adoption, Start-ups (read innovation), and Initiatives (policy implementation) to usher in a healthcare revolution
Digital and Tech at Scale:
AI, ML, IoT, & Cloud — disruptive in many ways. AI potentially helping to address the challenge of shortage of radiologists, preventive care, and many such scale problems which make it worthwhile to embrace tech in a nation like ours.
Start-ups & Innovation:
- India is one of the top 3 markets for wearables
- Healthcare is one of the top 8 sectors when it comes to funding and start-up activity in India covering areas such as Fitness & wellness, care, and data analytics.
Tap innovation at the edge, openly.
HealthID, Patient record digitalisation, Digi Doctors are digital legs of NDHM. If sustained well this could potentially be the revolution we need in India.
Technology can surely help augment healthcare whilst keeping human (patient care) at the center.
#DigitalHealthcare #5G #Telecom