Demystifying the Tectonic Shift in Healthcare

By Janifha Evangeline | Sunday, 07 November 2021, 15:39 IST

Kumar K V, Group Head - Information Technology, Narayana Hrudayalaya Limited, in an interaction with Sudhakar Singh, Editor, CIOReviewIndia, shares his views on the current evolution of the healthcare industry and the challenges in new technology adoption.

How do you see the rise of on-demand healthcare? How is mobility making it a reality?       

In the last few decades, we, as a country, have made significant achievements in the way healthcare is delivered. From an employment and revenue standpoint, the healthcare industry is one of the largest sectors and the pandemic has accelerated the growth of healthcare. Although healthcare is primarily delivered either through the public or private sector, the private sector is mostly concentrated in Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities. So, it is very important to understand the challenges to equitable, accessible, and quality healthcare.       

With the advent of COVID-19, organizations even with minimal technology have now digitally transformed. A transformation has happened in the way patients are managed, engaged, visited, communicated, and monitored. Almost overnight, healthcare providers have transformed themselves from offering no virtual care service to providing small virtual programs serving hundreds of people on a broad scale.

Healthcare is truly reaching the last mile because now it is available at a broader scale with the help of technology. Healthcare organizations have already begun to look at the various channels and the entire value chain is beginning to refine, expand, and improve the virtual care strategies. In the quest to provide better clinical care and superior patient experience, mobile will play a central role. So, for every healthcare organization, it is not only the customer that they put at the center but the mobile will also be put at the center, to build an ecosystem around them.

How do you see VR as a therapeutic tool being used to treat conditions such as pain, stress, anxiety, blindness, post-traumatic stress disorders, stroke, and spinal cord injury?

Technologies like AR/VR play an important role in the physical, emotional, cognitive, and psychological demands of patients. It is an area of emerging research that is about how virtual realities and simulation technologies are developed as a tool for delivering evidence-based approaches for assessing, preventing, and treatment of stress disorders and injuries. VR applications can simulate the natural environments and, within these environments, clinicians can present certain stimuli or scenarios which can create meaningful and familiar contexts. 

Furthermore, these technologies can enable training and treatment environments that will help the control of the various types of three-dimensional stimulus presentations with behavior tracking, and user response performance recording is possible.

How can VR be used in surgery simulations for the training of doctors?

The leaders in new healthcare look at the aviation industry. They take inspiration from the aviation industry and apply it in surgery simulations. Simulators are a great way for surgeons to practice. Although they are currently expensive and typically focused for a niche procedure, this is slowly changing.   

It will open the doors for surgeons to practice on various surgeries. All it requires is a great headset and motion controller for each hand for them to practice. We will be able to have our students or surgeons trained on the complex procedure at a much faster rate and they will be able to identify various techniques to address a specific surgery, with which we will be able to deliver better outcomes.  

There have been tremendous amount research and advancement opportunities overseas. In India, we still have a lot of ground to cover. There should be considerable encouragement from the government and from various healthcare providers for startups to come up with these kinds of solutions.    

How are wearable medical devices helping in preventive healthcare?

The wearable market is estimated to grow to approximately $70 billion by 2025. Today a wearable is found in every household in some form or the other and there are multiple types of it. With a multitude of devices and skin patches, wearable technologies with specific health applications are growing in popularity.   

From illness to wellness, wearables play a very important part because they track multiple attributes of the customer and provide insights. It is an evolving landscape from an IoT standpoint and driven by advancements in sensors and low-end connectivity and batteries, wearables will enable people to track various aspects of their wellness.   

How is telemedicine transforming healthcare? How is 5G going to be an enabler of it?

With the advent of COVID-19, telemedicine has gone from zero to 100 in terms of adoption. However, for telemedicine to succeed, the government insurance providers, health care providers should look at ways to encourage patients who go for virtual visits through incentivization mechanism, which will make the patients avail the service. This eventually reduces the load on the hospital so that we can service more people who require on-site treatment. 

Telemedicine can work beautifully in an urban area, tier-1, and tier-2 cities, but if we want to take healthcare to the masses, and have the deep penetration of healthcare, telemedicine will not be successful without technologies like 5G.