Last year I had the opportunity to lead a panel at the Philips Digital Health Conclave in Bangalore. We discussed in depth all things Digital health and one of the key discussion points was how Digital India was helping healthcare. Most of the discussion at the panel was around three parameters, cost , accessibility and adoption of technology.
The panel consisted of Industry stalwarts including, Pramod Varma – Chief Architect, Aadhaar, Deepak Jadhav, Product Marketing Praxify, Ravi Gururaj – Head of Product council NASSCOM, Dr Pinak Shrikahnde Executive Director and Co-Founder, Critinext and Ravi Ramaswamy, VP and Healthcare Head, Philips PIC.
I started the discussion by asking Ravi about how Digital India as a program was helping Philips. I started with ravi as he was on a panel last year for the Philips Digital Health Conclave, and I was curious on how much the needle had moved since then. Ravi felt that progress had been made and he pointed out the work that Philips was doing in the Udipi district in Karnataka for example. He felt slowly but surely progress was being made and Digitial India was responsible.
So I turned to Dr Pinal Shrikhande, who has worked on some of the largest Telemedicine implementations in India. He said a lot of work has been done but a lot more still needs to happen. He pointed out to two important factors- Last mile connectivity which was poor despite the work put in through Digital India and then the issues that doctors have about adopting technology. Most doctors still resist change and they have to embrace it in order to improve the situation. He said the third challenge is the cost. Most digital health models are still very expensive to implement and there has to be a way to reduce the cost on these implementations.
Pramod Varma the chief architect for Aadhar felt that Digital India had really helped with establishing a digital identity for most citizens. At present ony 200 million odd people dont have Aadhar. So this digital identity can be used in healthcare as well for health insurance, for medical records and for unified payments.
Ravi Gururaj felt that the chasm that exists in India today between large sophisticated hospitals in the cities and those in the smaller towns and villages are huge. He went on to say that the technology and devices at hospitals were not going to work for most of India on account of adoption, cost and access. So this gap has to be filled by startups and others, who would build technology to fulfill this need.
To learn more about what was discussed do watch this edited version of the session.
In the conversation the key issue that came up and was unresolved was patient security and healthcare data integrity. In my view the panel took a very simplistic view on this issue and this is something that was dispelled in the following panel that we had on Artificial Intelligence and IoT and their implication on healthcare. Keep watching this space for more.