DECODED: Proud moment! How India is emerging as Healthcare's Silicon Valley
Healthcare is one of the biggest buzzwords these days, especially in the wake of coronavirus-caused Covid-19 pandemic.
Healthcare is one of the biggest buzzwords these days, especially in the wake of coronavirus-caused Covid-19 pandemic. And, India's plays a massive and leadership kind of role when it comes to global healthcare industry. Ratna Mehta, Executive Vice President, Wadhwani Catalyst Fund at Wadhwani Foundation, explains how India is emerging as Healthcare's Silicon Valley:-
"Today India spends around 1% of GDP on healthcare, versus a world average of ~9%. This has led to significant under penetration of healthcare – whether it is infrastructure, skill gap or the quality of delivery. Can the answer to this be found in the magic called “technology”? Multiple Indian start-ups think so," Ratna Mehta opines.
"Technology Platforms are bridging the massive infra gap in India. Beyond the metros and tier 1, access to primary care is limited and low quality, leave aside access to specialist doctors and tertiary care. As per latest research, around 42% of people in rural India have to travel at least 5 km to access basic care2, increasing costs significantly," adds Ratna Mehta.
Further, Ratna Mehta says, "A lot of the access issues can be solved through technology – robust telemedicine platforms which have the ability to access patient records, monitor their vitals, see and speak to the patient without network interruptions, can really go a long way in providing quality and cost-efficient treatment. We are seeing deepening roots of telemedicine during the pandemic. While on one side there are established hospitals like Apollo and Max and large players like Practo and mfine, there are also niche start-ups like Medcords, Karma and Gramin which are using telemedicine platforms to improve healthcare access.
AI and Machine Learning are aiding healthcare delivery
The use of technological innovations such as AI, machine learning and robotics have led to the “eureka moment” for Indian healthcare. Today these innovations have multiple use cases in healthcare such as:
1. Reducing medical diagnosis errors
AI-enhanced microscopes can help better and faster detection of blood cells, allowing for 95% accuracy. Bangalore based start-up, Qure.AI uses AI uses deep learning algorithms to identify abnormalities in scans, thus improving the precision and speed of disease detection.
AI is also helping pathologists detect more cases of cancer; women health-focused startup, Niramai, has developed technology to detect breast cancer by merely reading the body temperature of the patient.
2. Drug Discovery
Drug discovery is a long and costly process, and mostly an outcome of trial and error. AI can help researchers analyze large sets of data to speed up the hypothesis and make it cost-efficient.
3. Prevention & Wellness
Wearables are some of the biggest boons to prevention and wellness. Wearables are not only used for basic heart rate detection but also sleep patterns, oxygen levels, send alerts to doctors, advise the patient to seek help, etc. There are some fitness wearables like GoQii wrist bands and Apple Watch, but there are also other high precision healthcare devices from budding companies like Mediotek & Health Sensei, which can measure ECG amongst other vitals.
4. Critical care
AI can also be used to enhance critical care – players like Dozee and Cardiac Labs have devices which can serve as a step-down ICUs or for remote / home monitoring. This is extremely useful to reduce ALOS (average length of stay) in the ICU / hospital. These devices constantly monitor relevant vitals (with a high level of precision), record data, analyze it and then send alerts to the command center/doctors in case of any change in patterns."
Elaborating on the 'India as Healthcare's Silicon Valley', Ratna Mehta says, "The evolution of technology is intriguing, and we do not know what capabilities will develop over time. But one thing is certain, India is at the cusp where these innovations can help transform our healthcare system, and a bunch of startups are mushrooming to leverage these tailwinds."
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