Europeanhhm
BD - Earth day 2024

The Future of Digital Health in India: Promising Trends to Watch

Dr Surendra Ramamurthy, Chief Medical Officer, Akos MD & mChemist

As we look ahead to digital health trends in India for 2023, several areas are worth keeping an eye on due to their potential impact on healthcare delivery and patient outcomes. India is expected to witness continued growth in various areas, including telemedicine, personalized medicine, genomics, and wearable’s.  Organizers and healthcare providers are leveraging advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing, extended reality (XR), and the Internet of Things (IoT) to develop and deliver innovative treatments and services. These trends reflect the ongoing transformation of the Indian healthcare landscape through digital technologies. They hold the potential to improve access to care, enhance patient outcomes, and optimize healthcare delivery.

Introduction

Everywhere we turn in the healthcare sector, we encounter modern technology being employed to battle sickness and create cutting-edge vaccinations. And medicines, and help people to live healthier lives. In India, several digital health trends are expected to shape the healthcare landscape. 
 

Telemedicine Expansion: 

Telemedicine has gained significant importance India, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
Telemedicine is expected to continue growing as more people embrace remote consultations and healthcare providers integrate telemedicine into their practice. 
Government initiatives and regulatory support are also likely to drive the expansion of telemedicine services across the country.
In rural and remote regions of India it has the potential to make a difference to the health of the population.
New wearable technologies monitor heart rate, stress, and blood oxygen levels, aiding real-time vital sign monitoring by healthcare professionals.

1.    AI-Driven Healthcare Solutions: 

AI (Artificial intelligence) and IoT (Internet of Things) are utilized in healthcare, enhancing traditional medical equipment. For example, connectivity with devices like Bluetooth-operated artificial cardiac pacemakers enables real-time monitoring of precise patient data logs. AI, combined with real-time data, patented monitoring algorithms, facilitates analysis of patient data and offers prompt insights to doctors for addressing health issues.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is poised to transform healthcare in India. AI-powered tools, such as diagnostic algorithms, predictive analytics, and personalized medicine, have the potential to improve disease detection, treatment outcomes, and patient care. 
In future, we can expect to see further advancements in AI-driven healthcare solutions that cater to specific healthcare challenges in India.

2.    Mobile Health (mhealth) Solutions: 

Mobile health or mhealth solutions are gaining popularity in India due to the widespread use of smartphones. These solutions include mobile apps, wearable devices, and remote monitoring tools that empower individuals to track and manage their health. 
mhealth is expected to play a crucial role in healthcare delivery, especially in remote areas with limited access to healthcare facilities. Wearable healthcare gadgets have significantly enhanced the industry by introducing innovations like implant devices that track patient data on device apps, catering to vital healthcare needs. These IoT-enabled wearable’s positively impact individuals' health and are crucial for preventive healthcare. Users can gain insights into their daily and long-term activity, aiding in health management and fitness. 
The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) encompasses various smart devices like wireless inhalers, smart beds, ECG and EKG monitors, among others. This enables real-time health tracking of high-risk patients by healthcare professionals.

3.    Digital Health Records and Interoperability: 

The adoption of electronic health records (EHRS) and the establishment of interoperability standards are key priorities for the Indian healthcare system. Efforts to digitize health records and improve data exchange between healthcare providers are likely to accelerate. 
This will facilitate seamless sharing of patient information and improve care coordination.

4.    Health Data Analytics: 

The availability of vast amounts of healthcare data presents opportunities for leveraging analytics to derive meaningful insights. Health data analytics can help identify disease patterns, improve public health interventions, and support evidence-based decision-making. 
We can expect to see increased focus on health data analytics to drive preventive healthcare and population health management.

5.    Digital Health Startups and Innovation: 

India has a thriving ecosystem of digital health startups and innovative solutions. 
We can expect to see more disruptive technologies and novel approaches to address healthcare challenges in areas such as telemedicine, remote patient monitoring, chronic disease management, and healthcare accessibility.

6.    Cybersecurity and Data Privacy: 

With the increasing digitalization of healthcare, ensuring cybersecurity and data privacy will be crucial. 
There will be a growing emphasis on implementing robust security measures, data protection protocols, and compliance with privacy regulations to safeguard patient information and maintain trust in digital health solutions. It's important to note that successful implementation of these digital health trends will require collaboration among healthcare providers, technology developers, policymakers, and regulatory bodies. 
Addressing challenges related to infrastructure, affordability, and digital literacy will be crucial for the widespread adoption and impact of digital health in India in 2023 and beyond.

7.    Government Initiatives and Policy Support

The Indian government has been actively promoting digital health initiatives and creating a favourable policy environment. We can anticipate continued support from the government through initiatives like the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) and policies that encourage the adoption of digital health technologies. The National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) is a Government of India initiative that aims to establish a unified digital health infrastructure in the country. It serves as the backbone for an integrated digital healthcare system, connecting various stakeholders through digital highways. One of the key objectives of NDHM is to bridge the gap among multiple stakeholders in the healthcare ecosystem.

The Vision

The vision of the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) is to establish a comprehensive digital health ecosystem in India. This ecosystem will enable seamless access to healthcare services, facilitate the exchange of health information, and empower individuals to have greater control over their health data. The mission envisions a future where digital technologies play a central role in improving healthcare delivery, enhancing efficiency, promoting innovation, and ensuring equitable access to quality healthcare for all citizens of India.

Electronic Medical Record

By definition, an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) is a digital version of a patient’s clinical history from a SINGLE facility. The web EMR, a reference application provided by NDHM, is a light weight, easy to use application with sufficient functions to capture important clinical details about the patient’s care in a facility. It is to be noted that this application does not provide advanced features like Clinical decision support (CDS), Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE), Clinical Pathways etc.

Health ID

Our Health ID offers a convenient and hassle-free way to access your health records digitally. You can create a health ID that is easy to remember and link it with your Aadhaar or mobile number. By presenting this health ID to participating healthcare providers, you can seamlessly receive your lab reports, prescriptions, and diagnoses digitally from verified doctors and health service providers. It streamlines the process of accessing and managing your health information, making it more efficient and accessible.

National Digital Health Mission (NDHM)

The National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) is focused on developing the essential infrastructure required to establish an integrated digital health ecosystem in the country. By implementing digital highways, the healthcare ecosystem aims to bring all stakeholders together. These digital highways will enable seamless communication, data exchange, and collaboration among healthcare providers, patients, government agencies, and other entities involved in healthcare delivery.  The mission seeks to create a robust and interconnected digital framework to improve healthcare accessibility, quality, and efficiency.

Digidoctor

Digi-Doctor is a digital registry that captures all details of medical practitioners who practice or teach modern and traditional medicine. Enrolling in this platform is voluntary and empowers doctors to be a part of India's digital health ecosystem. By joining Digi-Doctor, doctors can connect with the digital infrastructure, facilitating seamless access to their professional information and enhancing their participation in the healthcare landscape.

8.    Preventive medicine

Preventive medicine is likely to play a crucial role in the future of healthcare in India. Disease prevention and early detection: India faces a significant burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDS) such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, and respiratory conditions. Emphasizing preventive measures like regular screenings, health check-ups, and health education can help identify these conditions early on or prevent them from occurring in the first place. This can lead to better health outcomes and reduce the economic burden associated with managing advanced diseases.

Addressing public health challenges: 

India faces several public health challenges, including infectious diseases, environmental health risks, and lifestyle-related issues. Preventive medicine can aid in implementing measures to control and prevent the spread of infectious diseases through vaccination campaigns, improved sanitation, and hygiene practices. It can also focus on promoting healthier lifestyles, such as healthy eating habits, physical activity, and tobacco control.

Personalized and precision medicine: 

The advancement of genetic and molecular research has the potential to transform healthcare in India. Preventive medicine can leverage genetic testing, genomic risk assessments, and personalized interventions to identify individuals at higher risk of certain diseases.
This approach allows for tailored preventive strategies, such as targeted screening, lifestyle modifications, and early interventions, to mitigate disease risks based on an individual's genetic profile.

Technology and digital health: 

The integration of technology and digital health solutions can significantly enhance preventive medicine efforts in India. Mobile health applications, telemedicine, and wearable devices can empower individuals to track their health metrics, receive personalized health recommendations, and access preventive care remotely.  These technologies can bridge geographical gaps, particularly in rural areas, and provide access to preventive services to a wider population.

Public health policies and initiatives:

The Indian government has been focusing on public health policies and initiatives to address the country's healthcare challenges. Preventive medicine aligns with these efforts by promoting population-level interventions such as immunization campaigns, disease surveillance, health education programs, and policy interventions targeting specific risk factors like tobacco control, air pollution, and sanitation. By embracing preventive medicine, India can reduce the burden of diseases, improve overall population health, and make healthcare more cost-effective in the long run. It requires a multi-sectoral approach involving healthcare providers, policymakers, communities, and individuals working together to prioritize prevention, promote healthy behaviours, and create an environment that supports preventive measures.

9.    Personalized medicine

Personalized medicine, also known as precision medicine, is an emerging field that tailors’ medical treatments and interventions to individual patients based on their unique characteristics, including genetics, environment, lifestyle, and health history. While personalized medicine is still in its early stages in India, there are signs of growth and potential in the country. While personalized medicine holds significant promise, its widespread adoption in India faces challenges such as infrastructure limitations, cost concerns, ethical considerations, and the need for skilled professionals. With continued research, investment, and collaborations, personalized medicine is expected to grow in India, bringing about more precise and effective healthcare interventions tailored to individual patients' needs. The Indian government has shown support for personalized medicine initiatives through various programs and collaborations. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has initiated projects to establish genetic databases and promote research in personalized medicine. The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) has also launched programs to encourage genomic research and applications in healthcare.

Conclusion

As we look ahead to digital health trends in India for 2023, several areas are worth keeping an eye on due to their potential impact on healthcare delivery and patient outcomes. India is expected to witness continued growth in various areas, including telemedicine, personalized medicine, genomics, and wearables.  Organizers and healthcare providers are leveraging advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing, extended reality (XR), and the Internet of Things (IoT) to develop and deliver innovative treatments and services. These technologies enable improved healthcare delivery, enhanced patient experiences, and the development of personalized and data-driven approaches to medicine. These trends reflect the ongoing transformation of the Indian healthcare landscape through digital technologies. They hold the potential to improve access to care, enhance patient outcomes, and optimize healthcare delivery. It is important to address challenges like regulatory frameworks, data privacy, infrastructure gaps, and equitable access to ensure that these digital health advancements benefit all segments of society.

Dr Surendra Ramamurthy

Dr (Col) Surendra Ramamurthy is currently working as Chief Medical Officer in Akos MD & mChemist. He is an Indian Armed Forces Veteran. Having served the country as a Senior Gynaecologist & Obstetrician for almost three decades, he worked in various Hospitals and Specialized Infertility Clinics. He has extensive experience in managing large hospitals, developing skills in hospital administration, and handling prestigious projects for the Indian Army Medical Corps. He has also contributed to helping various health-tech companies in designing and implementing clinical protocols in digital health platforms.

The Healthcare Patient Experience & Engagement Summit 2024Healthcare Innovation & Transformation SummitHealthcare CNO SummitHealthcare CMO Summit