Dr Gurpreet Sandhu, President, Council for Healthcare & Pharma
Even as the year 2020 has truly tested the global healthcare fraternity, the coming year and beyond is filled with many promises and some challenges. One is that the remote diagnosis and treatment and the uptake of e-pharmacies spurred by the all-round digitisation of healthcare would become more routine. Then the increased traction in wearables, connected medical devices and remote monitoring devices combined with applications and wireless technologies would catalyse the rise of an advanced Internet of Medical Things era.
As such, virtual and remote care would become more common. At the same time, the hospitals and clinics would increasingly be seen housing automated reception facilities, face recognition systems, unmanned security with robotic assistants and bots performing the ordinary regular chores. These healthcare facilities are also more likely to have disease screening kiosks, sanitisers and protection suits prompted by COVID-19.
A more intensified employment of technologies such as AI, big data and machine learning in R&D would contract the time required for a drug or a device to get to the market and patients. 3D printing would become more common for making medical devices. At the same time, precision medicine or personalised medicine addressing the individual physiological characteristics of a patient as well as his needs would be more in demand.
There would be increased policy attention to epidemiological research and forecasting as well as biotechnology, biologics and bio pharma products. In this regard, more investment in terms of material resources and personnel would be made. Also, virtual clinical trials would gain more acceptance and currency. With data forming the backbone of patient health history, prescription, insurance and pharma purchase bills on an integrated platform, not only the health practitioners and patients, but drug manufacturers and insurance companies would also use this data to make informed business/professional decisions.
Finally, while being occupied with vaccination drives against COVID-19 globally, the healthcare regulators, researchers and drug companies would also be wary against the emergence of another strain of the virus. Or worse, an altogether but different virus, equal if not more, in virulence and impact.