Role of Technology in Revolutionizing Healthcare

Date:   Tuesday , February 21, 2017

Headquartered in New Delhi, Dr. Shikha\'s NutriHealth is a healthcare technology platform that offers wellness and diseases prevention guidance to help people manage obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and many other lifestyle diseases naturally, safely and with practical methods.

Technological innovations are slowly transforming the healthcare industry by providing smart, mobile-powered products. The use of smart phones and other related devices is not only changing the way people access healthcare information, but also revolutionizing the way healthcare professionals function. With nearly 70 percent of India\'s population living in rural areas, and a low doctor-to-patient ratio (1:1700 as compared to a WHO minimum stipulated ratio of 1:1000), the country faces the biggest challenge of making quality and cost-effective healthcare accessible to one and all. Many new organizations are entering the healthcare market with an aim to provide convenient and cost-effective healthcare solutions to clients by using advanced technological tools.

The Challenges Faced

Some common problems faced by rural communities include inaccessibility to fundamental healthcare facilities such as medicines, diagnostic equipment, hospital beds, and blood. Further, a lack of proper management of basic infrastructure and absence of an effective redressal system create gaps in the healthcare delivery system. The presence of traditional record keeping system in the Indian healthcare sector makes it difficult to access patient records and information, thus leading to constraints in providing timely diagnosis, treatment, and referrals. Paper-based records cannot be accessed centrally and therefore, restrict the administration of medical care facility across geographies, leading to extended waiting periods, long queues, and higher cost of medical attention at many hospitals and medical centres.

The Technological Advantage

By bringing in technology into the healthcare scenario, new ventures are making inroads into many previously unexplored avenues. Some of the key technological developments redefining the future of the healthcare ecosystem are -

Mobility: Mobile devices have seamlessly added to the essential technological needs of the healthcare industry. Emerging applications in this field are increasingly emphasizing on information dissemination by penetrating into mobile-savvy markets in the country. It has made it possible for the medical fraternity to adopt cost-effective methodologies in a patient-centric healthcare system. Flourishing under the smartphone revolution, internet-enabled devices have made healthcare delivery a 24x7 network where individuals can seek online advice and consult doctors at any hour of the day. Using telemedicine routes such as audio or video chats, patients can immediately get access to emergency medical attention. Information can be exchanged digitally between patients and doctors in the form of text messages, emails, images, graphics, audio and video files. New firms are coming up with innovative mobile-based products which are convenient and offer standardized, high-quality service to clients globally through a well-connected digital network.

Digital Record Maintenance: Digital record keeping methods are fast replacing outdated paper-based record management systems. Digitization allows for a centralized database maintenance which can be easily shared among doctors round-the-clock and anywhere in the world. Linking with Aadhar cards has brought a large chunk of the population under a unified healthcare umbrella. With the advent of cloud networking, access and transmission of data has crossed barriers of geography and time. With thousands of digital records, we at Dr. Shikha\'s Nutrihealth (Nutrition sector) are able to analyse food patterns and identify food effects on certain body parameters and health conditions.

Wearables & Other Devices: One of the most popular trends in the fitness and healthcare segment is the use of wearable technology for integration and collection of health and wellness data. With wristbands and mobile devices, it not only becomes easier to record calories, maintain diet charts, and track weight loss programmes but it is also possible to monitor vital health statistics such as blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and heart rate. Adding to the list are body fat analysers available in the market which connect with the mobile application and track the body parameters like weight, hydration percentage, fat percentage, and others. Innovative hand-held electronic devices that are capable of producing point-of-care diagnosis through non-invasive measurement techniques are gaining popularity in the developed world.

Analytics: Analytics is the next big thing in the world of healthcare technology. Analytics is enabling doctors to diagnose and treat patients more effectively with the use of predictive algorithms, and is bridging any possible gaps in knowledge. Many startups are using big data analytics for arriving at rapid, accurate, and efficient diagnostic, reporting, and treatment solutions. These big data analytics help physicians around the world to use data sources for predictive and complete viewing of diseases such as cancer. They are combining clinical data with claims of new research studies to build bigger and more comprehensive databases.

Artificial Intelligence: Artificial intelligence is emerging as an incredibly robust diagnostic aid and data integration mechanism. More and more new ventures are coming up with their own AI-based apps and tools to make, arrange, and analyse medical records and patient data, which gives healthcare professionals a greater insight into problem detection and treatment strategies. They are exploring the possibility of relating behavioural patterns of individuals with environmental data, biometrics, and other personal data using artificial intelligence to diagnose diseases, evaluate outcomes of wellness programmes, and suggest subsequent treatment options.

We are excited about India\'s growing infrastructural development, so more patients can access our services. With technological innovations, we can thus expand our reach to the patients. Utilization of drones in healthcare will be the next big step in revolutionizing the industry. Drones have a camera which can record and provide real-time information. We will be able to provide consultation to the disaster prone/far flung areas once more improvements are made to the drone technology such as increasing its battery life.

The healthcare industry is currently experiencing an exciting technological transformation, and is poised for rapid growth in the coming years. Technology is not only revolutionizing the way the healthcare system works but is making it more cost effective, affordable, and easily accessible on a global platform. Besides, technology at the touch of a button is giving consumers more control over the way they manage their own health.