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CahoTech 2019: An effort to bridge the healthcare technology gap

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Experts present at the conference were unanimous that cutting-edge technology remains the key to increase operational efficiency and profitability of healthcare providers and is the driving force behind quality healthcare, helping increase provider capabilities and enabling them to offer better patient care

India healthcare Inc is on the cusp of technology transformations. Amidst the challenges of lack of access to healthcare, underspend public healthcare and rising burden of non-communicable diseases, the sector is witnessing an unparalleled growth in terms innovation in medical technology, diagnostics and research. It is therefore emerging as an opportune destination for investment as well.

In consonance with this, the recently held 4th International Healthcare Technology Conference of Consortium of Accredited Healthcare Organisations in Chennai, attracted healthcare tech leaders, clinical technology experts, health tech innovators, administrators, biomedical engineers, scientists, researchers, and students to share and utilise combined experiences that can guide medical practitioners and technology developers towards continuous technological development.

The two-day gathering, showcased latest technologies and products related to the healthcare sector. The programme included pre-conference workshops and masterclasses, technology show and a technology summit for experts to deliberate on the opportunities, challenges and technical know-how of the latest technologies available in India. Experts present at the conference were unanimous that cutting-edge technology remains the key to increase operational efficiency and profitability of healthcare providers and is the driving force behind quality healthcare, helping increase provider capabilities and enabling them to offer better patient care. However, key challenges associated with reliability, replicability, precision, quality of data and privacy will need to be addressed. Some of the experts present at the conference were Som Mittal, Former President & Chairman, NASSCOM, Dr Gagandeep Kang, Christian Medical College, Lakshmi Narayanan Co-founder, Cognizant Technology Solutions, Josh Foulger, Foxconn International Holding, Arun Jain, Founder – Polaris, Dr Bhaskar Ramamurthi, Director – IIT Madras; Dr Yoon Kyoung Cho, Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology, Dr Hooshmand Palany, ASEAN – Business Advisory Council, Ravindran B , Professor, IIT Madras, and Anil Relia, Principal Advisor, Quality Council of India.

Dr Vijay Agarwal, President, CAHO said, “By bringing dozens of healthcare organisations and technology companies under one roof, CAHOTECH 2019 proved to be the biggest and most definitive event of the country that connected healthcare with technology through innovations, investments and best practices. The latest and more evolved technology-based solutions presented over the two-day will go a long way in empowering hospitals to maximise their efficiencies and profitability. An important aspect of the event was the sharing of experiences and key learnings regarding technological innovations already functional at some hospitals around the country.”

Sameer Mehta, Organising Chairman, CAHOTECH 2019 said, “Technology is disrupting healthcare delivery rapidly. CAHOTECH 2019 provided healthcare providers an opportunity to learn about the recent advances and make them ready for futuristic trends in the field of information technology, medical equipment, machinery, processes, etc. The event helped develop a healthy and positive relationship between technology developers, innovators and stakeholders in healthcare delivery. It looked at solutions to make modern healthcare accessible, available and affordable to all.”

The first day of the programme had workshops that covered topics related to point of care technology, ways to enable e-governance with hospital set-ups, cyber security, optimal utilisation of technologies and more. The programme also included a pitch fest for start-ups wherein technology innovators presented their ideas to investors in order to pitch for funding. Investors and venture capitalists participating in CAHOTECH 2019 invested Rs 20 lakh in various promising startups based on a contest. Many startups were also offered opportunities for incubation, and beta-testing of their new health technology products in alliance with hospitals.

The second day saw healthcare tech leaders, key hospital administrators, laboratory experts, research experts, clinicians and scientists deliberating on some key topics that impact the future healthcare technology in India.

The discussions began with understanding the true potential of AI in healthcare. Som Mittal, Former President and Chairman, NASSCOM; Bharathi Reddy, Managing Trustee & CEO, Vijaya Group of Hospitals Chennai; Ranga Shetty, Mentor for Healthcare technology start-ups; Dr Karthik Srinivasan, Vitreoretinal Surgeon, Aravind Eye Hospital, Chennai and Nishant Jaiswal, General Manager – Operations, Nanavati Super Specialty Hospital, Mumbai spoke on various ways in which hospitals can leverage AI in their enhancing patient experiences, clinical practice and more. Experts informed that 90 per cent of healthcare data in India is generated by using AI. They spoke on how AI has the ability to perform a single task extremely well giving rise to immense opportunities of narrow AI in healthcare. Ranga Shetty identified seven patterns in AI where professionals can benefit some of these benefits include recognition in the medical imaging space and identifying patterns and anomalies based on behavioural sciences. They also highlighted that in it is important to start sharing data in the most appropriate manner in order to maintain patient privacy.

Prof Ravindran B, Professor, Computer Science and Engineering and Head, Robert Bosch Centre for Data Science and AI, IIT-Madras, in his talk on healthcare technology warned the audience on the challenges associated with technologies such as AI and IoT. He mentioned that the technologies have indeed transformed healthcare delivery, yet some AI applications have not yet achieved 100 per cent precision. He said that predictive analytics and decision making has improved using AI, but there is a need to streamline touch points to improve efficiencies and precision.

In the session, discussion point of care technologies, Dr Narendranath V, Chief Administrator, MS Ramiah Medical College, Bengaluru; Dr Alexander Thomas, President AHPI; Dr Yoon-Kyoung Cho, Group Leader, Centre for Soft and Living Matter, Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), Korea ; Dr R Sivakumar, Senior Consultant-Dept of Cardiology, Meenakshi Mission Hospital, Madurai cited examples how POC technologies are changing the way the diagnosis of complex medical problem can be achieved. Dr Kyoung spoke about her research in POC technologies for cancer diagnostics as well.

Dr Raju Sivasamy, Vice President-Medical Services, SIMS Hospital, Chennai; Dr Girish CM, Asst Prof, Centre for Nanosciences and Molecular Medicine, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre, Kochi and Dr Niranjan Thomas Abraham William, Professor and Head of Unit, Dept of Neonatology, Christian Medical College Hospital, Vellore presented case studies on their respective innovations using nanotechnology and spoke of how necessities give rise to innovations that can be cost effective too. Dr Niranjan gave an example of his innovations MiraCradle urged clinicians to think beyond clinical practice and be a source for innovation and innovative ideas for cost-effective healthcare solutions. “If you have an idea, it must translate into research. After which you must collaborate with industry to develop solutions in order to solve healthcare problems in India,” he recommended.

The other sessions included discussions on IoT, iOMT in Intensive Care and efficient electronic medical records systems. At the end, experts pointed out that India needs innovation in order to become one of the best healthcare destinations of the world. They maintained that innovation drives economic growth and so the Indian healthcare Inc must follow the innovation route.

Key highlights:

  • Apple is investing heavily in healthcare technology development
  • Data labelling is essential to the success of AI application
  • Opportunities lie in narrow AI
  • Medical communities need to work together to overcome challenges associated with digital technologies
  • Indian government is devising an AI policy in healthcare
  • It is important to check for the reliability of AI systems in order to check its robustness
  • Medication errors are not tracked properly in India. We do not have a single mechanism to understand medication side effects
  • Optimal image-based solutions can have answers to many complex medical conditions
  • Innovation will drive economic growth for Indian healthcare

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