5 Ways IoT Will Revamp Indian Healthcare Industry

However, we must also be aware that with so much of confidential data being collected on patients from various sources, it is crucial for healthcare technology adopters to safeguard the data.

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India has predicted that with increased digital adoption, the Indian healthcare market, which is worth US$ 100 billion, will likely to grow at a CAGR of 23 percent to US$ 280 billion by 2020. Also, healthcare spending as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is rising and the scope for further improving healthcare services is enormous with the launch of “Digital India” where the Indian government is stepping towards digital empowerment to better the healthcare system. Rural India, which accounts for over 70 percent of the population, is set to emerge as a potential demand source. A significantly low presence of physicians in rural and semi-urban areas has led to the limited access to proper healthcare facilities for the people living in these areas. Another cause of big concern is that the share of India’s population aged 60 and older is projected to climb from 8 percent in 2010 to 19 percent in 2050, according to the United Nations Population Division (UN 2011). Almost one-half (47 percent) of older Indians have at least one chronic disease such as asthma, angina, arthritis, depression, or diabetes. India’s aging population will lead to the increase in the prevalence of chronic conditions which requires regular monitoring by doctors and control through prescriptive drugs. Also, around 18 per cent of global deaths and 20 percent of loss of global disability-adjusted life years occur here in India, making it a country with one of the highest disease burdens in the world. Amidst these challenges, adoption of technology in the healthcare sector offers a ray of hope. The emergence of telemedicine was a stepping stone and, now, with a wider adoption of Internet of Things (IoT), I am sure that we will see physical hospitals vanishing by 2025. Universal access to healthcare with the availability of certified and trained doctors and nurses in rural and semi-urban India, medical facilities for the poor, dissemination of public information and development of communication to promote preventive self-care and risk reduction by conducive life styles will become a reality. IoT will drastically change the functioning of healthcare, leading to better outcomes, increasing efficiency and building healthcare services that are affordable to all. With IoT, we will see a paradigm shift from ‘Hospital-centric’ to ‘Patient-centric’ model where patients need not travel a long distance and wait for hours to get a doctor’s attention. Using this technology, doctors will be enabled to track their patients located in anywhere in India, especially where the medical facilities are almost non-existent today. IoT will facilitate real-time to near-real-time flow of information between doctors and patients, sourcing data on the vitals from not only the electronic records but also medical equipment and monitoring devices, which earlier was not possible. The mobile technologies will help enable healthcare organizations to advance access to patients and engage online for scheduling appointments and provide advisory services remotely. The quality and efficiency of care can be drastically improved with the adoption and timely sharing of the electronic health records at both private and public healthcare organisations.   The benefits attached to IoT makes it a people-centric technology. Below are a few examples:

  • Wearable connected devices: Patient given a device can track health conditions such as blood pressure, blood glucose levels, and weight, among others. With the data collected, proper diagnosis can be provided, and fatal situations avoided.
  • Remote patient monitoring (RPM): Countries with medical facilities in every corner of the land is a costly endeavour. However with this technology, one could keep a track of patients in the isolated areas. Through IoT, one could monitor these patients and, if required, proper medical intervention can be performed by analysing the data collated.
  • Monitoring prescription drugs: Deployment of IoT technologies is already in progress by prescription drug manufacturers to verify the authenticity of the prescriptions. For example, some manufacturers use radio frequency identification (RFID) tags to track prescription drugs usage. Consecutively, timely alerts can be sent to patients who have not taken their prescribed medication.
  • Connected care: IoT-enabled technologies also assist in facilitating elder care, which has been a concern as it can help in raising the standard of the quality of life. Through this technology, the elders can be more independent and lead a healthy life as this will enable them to check their blood pressure and heart rate and provide medical facilities this information in real-time.
  • Clinical trials: The clinical trial applications comprises the use of dedicated connected devices to support field trials of medical procedures, treatments, and drugs. Through remote monitoring solutions, clinical trial administrators can extend trials more effectively outside of expensive dedicated testing facilities and into the homes of trial volunteers.
I can clearly see that, in near future, IoT is going to raise the standard of medical facilities, improve the decision-making powers of healthcare providers and help patients manage their personal health more proactively. However, we must also be aware that with so much of confidential data collected on patients from various sources, it is crucial for healthcare technology adopters to invest in legal and secure data collection methods, establish a fool proof infrastructure to analyse, manage and store data, and only with proper checks and authorization, exchange data with multiple entities. Rishi is the President, Aeris India


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