India Holds The Key For Global Digital Healthcare

Piyush Goyal - file pic

India Holds The Key For Global Digital Healthcare

The WHO Helps Member Nations In Digital Technology

Google official says Equity by design, privacy by design, and security by design are some of the core values on which our systems are built.

MUMBAI, Sep 2 (The CONNECT) - The World Health Organisation (WHO) said many global healthcare issues can be resolved using digital healthcare tools, while India said the country’s startup ecosystem is well positioned to address this.

Addressing the Global Digital Health Summit 2023, hosted by Digital Health Associates, Dr Alain Labrique, Director for the WHO’s Department of Digital Health and Innovation, stated that many global healthcare issues can be resolved using digital healthcare tools and by putting a blueprint for the national digital health strategy in place.

He explained that the WHO since the last 20 years have tried to put governments in the driver’s seat helping them with digital technology in the broader sense. “We help in the guidance and the guidelines to help them put a national digital healthcare strategy in place. We also encourage all our 194 member states to learn from the successes and failures of each other,” he revealed.

Earlier, Union Commerce and Industry Minister said India’s thriving start-up ecosystem, which is the third largest in the world has an immense potential to tackling pressing healthcare challenges on a global scale.

He said the rise of digital healthcare holds the key to addressing healthcare accessibility issues—a mission that aligns seamlessly with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of healthcare for all.

Pointing out the potential of emerging markets, Goyal stated that India is well-positioned to harness this opportunity. “During the pandemic, India manufactured and provided almost 300 million vaccines to 100 countries showcasing India’s commitment to global healthcare crises,” he said.

Goyal spotlighted the potential of machine learning in revolutionising healthcare diagnostics, ensuring the delivery of high-quality healthcare services to the last mile. “India has also launched the world’s largest healthcare insurance scheme, Ayushman Bharat which is a new benchmark in the healthcare space,” he pointed out.

Dr Karen DeSalvo, Chief Health Officer, Google stated that technology has made it possible for the healthcare system to meet the patients where they are.

“The benefits should not be limited to a select few who have the ability to access information and services. Equity by design, privacy by design, and security by design are some of the core values on which our systems are built,” she explained.

Dr DeSalvo said almost one-third of the world population come to google asking questions every day.

“Hundreds of millions of those are related to healthcare. Where we realise that some of the frequently searched information is not available, we work with the partners such as hospitals to create desired content on platforms including YouTube.” She added.

Dr DeSalvo spoke of the opportunities that digital tools like Artificial intelligence is providing to healthcare companies to scale up their operations today. “Such tools are helping companies working with the ecosystem to spur innovation for companies and caregivers. These digital tools are also helping provide healthcare access to people on the phones,” she said.

She noted during her interaction that India has taken the lead in digitalisation and telemedicine. “Privacy and Governance frameworks will have to be in place” for the systems to scale, she underlined.

Dr Rajendra Pratap Gupta, Chair, Global Digital Health Summit, Expo & Innovation Awards stated that this year's Digital Health Solutions Summit in Mumbai is set to be historic.

“We are shifting our focus from thought leadership to practical implementation, he said that medical science and technology will lead to healthcare space in the future,” he said

Dr Devi Shetty, Chairman & Executive Director of Narayana Healthcare stated that within next five years India will be able to provide quality healthcare to every citizen regardless of his or her financial status.

“Two important enablers in this direction are digitisation of healthcare and universal health insurance. Digitisation will help provide quality care to the patients wherever they are regardless of what time of the day it is. Smart software will enable smart diagnosis. At some point it may become legally mandatory for the doctors to take a second opinion of the software before starting the treatment,” he said.

According to Dr Shetty, even in the most developed country like US one in two hundred patients admitted to a hospital die due to medical error. “That is mainly because of poor communication. We are working on systems that will provide diagnostic reports to the doctor on his mobile as soon as the test is done. This will save lives,” he pointed out.

Dr Shashank Joshi, President, India Academy of Diabetes, Ex- Chair, International Diabetes Federation stated that India has the highest number of diabetes cases in the world with 101 million suffering from the same. “Though, diabetes care with the discovery of Insulin happened more then 102 years ago, the technology adopted for the same was very skewed.  With the Covid pandemic, the technology adoption accelerated,” he said.

He said that using digital tools like AI, it is possible to create a digital model and create customised solutions for the patient. “We can use precise therapy with the era of evidence-based medicine now in place. You can pick the data, analyse the same and give solutions for individual patients,” Dr Joshi explained.

Dr Vijay Harikisan Bang, President, Cardiological Society of India explained that Cardiology was always a technology driven field. “In the year 2000, the data that used to be generated was to the tune of 9 billion terabytes, this has gone up to around 120 billion terabytes by 2023,” he pointed out.

According to Dr Bang, digital tools like AI while can augment human ingenuity, it cannot be a replacement for human intelligence. “It can improve diagnostics and patients can be treated digitally, however there is a need to look at issues pertaining to data and patient security,” he said.  

Dr Hrishikesh D Pai, President, The Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India spoke on the issues related to women’s digital health.

Femtech was started in the year 2016. However, policies need to be formulated to increase awareness about the same. We have several barriers like poor access in rural areas and the cost of implementing new technologies which need to be addressed,” he said.

Recent News