Healthcare leaders and experts share their views on the trends to look out for in 2020
Dr Geetha Manjunath, CEO & CTO, NIRAMAI
The future of healthcare will be primarily driven by digital technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, 3D printing, augmented and virtual reality. Digitisation will bring increased efficiency and accessibility to healthcare services. Today, AI is already becoming an intrinsic part of many clinical decisions made by medical professionals. Data-based decisions help improve quality of care, clinician productivity and address the challenges in scaling healthcare delivery to rural areas and make a huge impact for the masses. For example, NIRAMAI’s automated clinical decision solution to address a key issue in women’s health has the potential to drastically reduce deaths due to breast cancer globally. The progressive innovation in this industry coupled with the government’s support is sure to accelerate healthcare penetration and enhance the value for patients.
Dr Pradeep Gadge, Director, Dr Gadge’s Diabetes Care & Research Centre
The healthcare sector is evolving by leaps and bounds. In 2019, the healthcare sector witnessed some revolutionary treatments and breakthroughs. As the year ends, we bring to you some of the popular and latest healthcare trends in 2019.
In India, the healthcare sector comprises hospitals, medical devices, clinical trials, medical insurance, medical equipment, and telemedicine. Healthcare in India is growing at a rapid rate due to its latest services. The path-breaking technologies and new medical breakthroughs are helping the healthcare sector to cater to the needs of the patients and improve the treatment outcome due to the revolutionary technologies. The new technologies have helped in improving the patient outcome and provide timely care. The bonus point-it will be possible to ensure a healthier future for people in India.
Here are some latest healthcare trends which you shouldn’t miss:
Maharashtra records maximum numbers of deceased donations: As you all know that organ donation is the need of the hour. There is a huge gap between the organ need and the availability of the organs. But, organ donation is slowly gaining momentum. Now, there is also good news that Maharashtra has bagged the top spot from recording the maximum deceased donations this year. From November 2018- October 2019, Maharashtra has managed 153 donations giving a new way of life to 449 patients who were in dire need of organs. The state officials received the award as a part of the National Organ & Tissue Transplant Organization’s (NOTTO’s) event which was held to mark the 10th Organ Donation Day in New Delhi. Zonal Transplant Coordination Centres working at local levels lay a pivotal role in spreading awareness regarding organ donation.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML): Are you aware? AI and ML can help speed up the processing of healthcare data faster than a human can do. To top it all, they can do it efficiently as well. AI and ML can be used in identifying and diagnosing health issues like blindness, vision impairments or gut disorders. Furthermore, AI can also be used in order to analyse information from a patient’s Electronic Health Record (EHR) for accurate diagnosis and various ways to treat the problem. You will also be surprised to know that AI and ML can be applied in pathology and radiology to also detect the irregularities in MRI scans and X-rays. Hence, this can be useful for patients in the near future.
Electronic health record (EHR): This may allow the patient and the doctor to have that permanent access to the patient’s data like diagnostics, chronic diseases, and previous prescriptions. This can promote hassle-free communication between the doctor and the patients. Furthermore, it may reduce the burden of the patient as you will have to carry less number of papers while visiting your doctor.
Health-tracking apps: Today, a lot of people swear by various health-tracking apps that allow them to monitor their fitness levels. One will be able to keep an eye on the blood pressure, speed, accuracy, heart rate, distance covered, sleep time, manage weight and improve their health.
Telehealth: With the help of a smartphone, one will be able to search for the doctor online, compare their statistics, skills, qualifications and the patient’s reviews before choosing the doctor. This will help you to find the right and the best doctor for you.
Medical tourism: Did you know? Reportedly, the medical tourism industry is growing. Now, it is 18 per cent of the global tourism market share and is expected to be 20 per cent by 2020. The country offers various healthcare services at affordable prices and also has the latest medical technology which has improved the patient outcome. Medical tourism is surely thriving in India and has become the hub of medical tourism.
Ayushman Bharat scheme: It can be a boon for patients. Palliative chemotherapy for cancer, implants for hip fractures and angioplasty, accounted for the highest number of hospital admissions among the top 10 tertiary care procedures under Ayushman Bharat up to November end. Heart ailments including bypass surgery and heart attack management dominated the list of procedures in terms of the highest average cost per admission and the total number of admission. Yes, you have heard it right! Reportedly, as of November 28, 2019, around 63.7 lakh beneficiaries availed of hospitalisation services and almost 20,000 public and private hospitals all over India have been empanelled under the Ayushman Bharat scheme. We hope that more and more people get benefit from this scheme.
Keep in mind
- Healthcare should not only cover merely medical care but also all aspects of pro preventive care too. Nor can it be limited to care rendered by or financed out of public expenditure within the government sector alone but must include incentives and disincentives for self-care and care paid for by private citizens to get over ill health.Whereas in India, private out-of-pocket expenditure dominates the cost financing health care, the effects are bound to be regressive. Healthcare at its essential core is widely recognised to be a public good.
- An under-appreciated driver of costs of India healthcare is the price of hospitalisation. The cost of hospitalisation is rising and medical treatments are becoming more expensive. This is putting pressure on one’s out-of-pocket medical expenses. There should be some relief for the health insurance company that could help individuals to get more insurance coverage.
- While we remain equally excited about non-clinical use cases like more efficient billing, coding, credentialing, and provider directories, we think that AI use cases to support biomedical research and clinical decision support will begin to become useful and practical. AI’s insatiable appetite for data will be rate-limiting for most clinical use cases since the training data is contaminated with medical errors and bias.
Nickhil Jakatdar, CEO, GenePath
The increasing focus in projects like IndiGen is a positive sign that the government has recognised the value in genetic diagnosis. These projects will help the Indian healthcare industry to strengthen its ground on precision treatment and improved patient care. The growing consumer awareness around preventive healthcare and the proven power of molecular diagnostics and genetic testing will result in significant growth in the areas of carrier identification screening, prenatal diagnosis, newborn screening, reproductive technologies and rapid diagnosis of infectious diseases. However, there is a need to devise a targeted approach to innovating around cost-effectiveness and indigenisation of the tests for the Indian consumer so as to achieve long term sustainability and positive impact on the quality of our healthcare.
Amit Choudhary, Founder and CEO, Dawaa Dost
With technology permeating every sector including healthcare, the focus is shifting towards simplification and digitisation of healthcare services. Even things like medicines, diagnostics, services, etc. can be made available at home today at a click of a button or via simple messages. Two themes for 2020 will be the affordability and pricing transparency therein. As per Government data, India is already the largest provider of generic drugs globally with the Indian generics accounting for 20 per cent of global exports in terms of volume. >90 per cent of all medicines sold in India is also generic. Given India is already the affordable pharmacy to the world, its’ time we help our citizens access affordable medicine as well. Dawaa Dost is addressing the accessibility and transparency of pricing to customers and helping them save between 50-80 per cent of their medicine bills leveraging technology.
Neha Rastogi, Founder and COO, Agtasa
Neha Rastogi, Founder and COO, Agtasa mentions, “We see 2020 as a promising year for the health-tech industry. Some of the key trends to look out for in the coming years include the convergence of medical devices with channels like telemedicine, digitisation, and electronic patient records maintenance. With the focus shifting from diagnosis to prevention, we will see the emergence of many smart and IoT based medical devices. They will be personalised according to consumer needs and could include everything from custom based prosthetics to home-based ventilators, etc.
Cutting-edge technologies like AI and machine learning will enable the prediction of diseases thereby helping both doctors and patients to take a preventive approach. It will also aid doctors in quick decision making. The decade ahead will see increased traction for a ‘pay-per-use’ model in healthcare delivery. Rather than buying a device one time, this model will help users to avail a custom and usage-based payment option for using healthcare services and devices.
Meena Ganesh, MD and CEO, Portea Medical
Recent statistics show that India is expected to rank amongst the top three healthcare markets in terms of incremental growth by 2020. Technology will permeate this industry even more in the next decade and drive innovation making things like remote monitoring of patients easier and better. Two technologies that are already taking this sector by storm include wearables and GPS monitoring. The growth of the home healthcare industry at a CAGR of 20 per cent can be attributed to recognition of the fact that hospital care may not be a practical solution for all the healthcare needs of the elderly and chronic patients, and end of life care. There is also the risk of acquiring hospital led infections. Healthcare delivery methods such as remote patient monitoring (RPM) will enable doctors to monitor patient health outside of a traditional clinical setting using technology.
Currently, health-tech start-ups in India are also aiming to create lifestyle and technology products and services that cater specifically to the elderly and the ailing. The market is opening thanks to greater awareness among people, higher smart phone usage, and internet penetration. We believe that the future belongs to digital hospitals that empower patients to take care of themselves. Home healthcare start-ups will also use technology such as AI and machine learning in elderly care to support motion, access and monitor health charts, fix appointments and even communicate with the elderly in an attempt to dispel loneliness.
Dr Alexander Kuruvilla, Chief Healthcare Strategy Officer, Practo
Indian healthcare industry is growing at a brisk pace and there is a huge opportunity to utilise technology to improve quality, accessibility and efficient delivery of healthcare services in the country. Digital healthcare has evolved a lot in the last one year and the government has also provided the necessary momentum through initiatives like National Health Stack (NHS) and National Digital Health Mission (NDHM). With the added impetus from the increased penetration of smartphones and internet connectivity, we have witnessed considerable growth in the usage of digital health services by people across the country, especially in Tier-2 cities.
In terms of technology trends for 2020, Telemedicine would continue to be the game-changer facilitating increased accessibility to quality healthcare services. This would be all the more important given the limited accessibility to and availability of doctors in our country. Online consultation can help in mitigating the impact of this shortage of doctors and provide easy access to patients in remote and underserved areas. We hope to see more innovation and progress in the healthcare industry in 2020 and expect everyone in the ecosystem to benefit from it. As the leader in the digital healthcare space, Practo is committed to further its vision of simplifying healthcare by making quality healthcare more accessible, affordable and convenient.
Amol Naikawadi, Joint Managing Director, Indus Health Plus
The technological advancements in healthcare has benefitted the overall industry including the diagnostic market. In 2020, genetic testing will further shape the preventive healthcare segment. Recent findings in our genomic study and the significant decline in the costs of genetic testing will change the game completely. The industry will use these techniques to transform the way personalised healthcare is delivered in the country. As a result of Government backed research initiatives like IndiGen project, genetics sector is all set to go for a rapid change. Moreover, the Government has also given importance to the segment through its plan of setting up wellness centres across India resulting in the availability, accessibility and affordability of preventive healthcare services to the masses. It will help to shift the focus to preventive from curative for the entire population and industry.
Vinil Menon, CTO, CitiusTech
Globally we are seeing a growing discourse on digital transformation in the healthcare industry. Much of this transformation will revolve around how healthcare organisations manage and derive insights from data. The focus is around how healthcare data can be aggregated, processed and leveraged at scale using next generation technology like Big Data, cloud computing, IoT and AI/ML. Leaders in cloud computing like Google are offering services that support healthcare standards to allow healthcare organisations to handle the computation needs and large datasets for advanced analytics use cases such as point-of-care decision support, care coordination and preventive care.
The other major development that we anticipate is an uptake in the adoption of HL7 FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources). This interoperability standard is based on REST (Representational State Transfer) model that is a de-facto standard and the basis of most APIs on the internet. Utilising FHIR as the unifying standard makes it more suitable to aggregate data from different systems, which in turn helps accelerate digital transformation initiatives.
Another important trend is the universe of internet-connected devices – such as sensors, mobile apps, virtual assistants, etc. – that are generating massive amounts of direct and indirect health information every day. The healthcare industry sees tremendous value in correlating this information and using AI/ML to draw powerful insights. On the flip-side they would need to address growing concerns around patient data privacy, security and governance of the data and the infrastructure, invest in enterprise data lakes and deploy privacy aware AI/ML models for real-world healthcare scenarios.
Gaurav Gupta, Co-Founder, Navia Life Care
2019 was a very interesting year for the healthcare sector as a whole. There have been exciting things happening on policy level, providers side (hospitals and diagnostics companies), life sciences and on the insurance side.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India has come up with National Digital Health Blueprint which is an interesting step towards increasing the digital footprint in healthcare. We hope the government is going to build upon this blueprint and come up with a simple and implantable policy in the coming year.
Continuing the trend from 2018, private equity has shown keen interest in the hospital sector this year as well, there have been some key consolidation and M&A deals in the sector. We believe that this could bring in more efficiency in the ecosystem. This has impacted smaller neighbourhood hospitals as well, and across the ecosystem hospitals have become significantly more open to innovative solutions to improve patient experience and patient outcomes. We hope that in 2020, the adoption of innovative solutions by hospitals increases even further so that it can benefit both patients and the hospitals.
Life science and pharma industry did pretty well this year. Change in the import policy by China is a promising welcome for India generic manufacturers. The industry has also made significant strides in the digital health innovation with new digital devices coming in from different pharmaceutical companies.
For healthcare technology companies, 2019 has been a very good. There have been quite a few large value VC-PE deals this year which has given good impetus to the sector as a whole. We believe that this momentum is going to continue for a while now and this sector will grow significantly in the coming year replicating Indian Fintech sector growth.