India’s healthcare woes have been documented for long. The patient-doctor ratio in India is quite low compared to other countries. Tattvan E Clinics, an enterprising player in India’s healthcare sector is aiming to change this through its network of telemedicine clinics. Ayush Mishra, CEO, Tattvan E-clinics, shares with us how technology and more specifically, virtual consultations can change the face of healthcare in India
Some edited excerpts:
In your view, how would healthcare change after COVID-19?
Covid-19 has challenged our healthcare system in such a profound and irreversible way, created massive pressure on the current system that has exposed system-wide inefficiencies and inequalities. We all are aware of the fact that technological innovation become inseparable from healthcare and the way healthcare systems worldwide are becoming financially unsustainable, a paradigm shift is imminent.
The recent explosion in the adoption of virtual consultation that has demonstrated how technology can enable care teams to mitigate disease spread, scale with changes in patient volume, and realize efficiencies across the health care system. In the post-covid-19 world, digital healthcare will be the new normal where medical community must prioritize technology that can function across every aspect of the patient experience and support a range of clinical, administrative, and financial workflows.
There will be no need for a long drawn commune for clinical assessment, doctor consultation, or medical opinion. The same can be booked from the comfort of the homes and people can easily avail the benefits. The digital evolution would also contribute in mitigating the problems due to skewed doctor-patient ratio, where the benefits of a medical opinion of a single specialist can reach to the multiple places. The digital healthcare system will also allow India to facilitate healthcare services more swiftly to the African nations where the dearth of the doctors turns out to be a major challenge and all of this will eventually contribute to medical tourism.
In India, we have tremendous capability to turn this pandemic into an opportunity to unleash a digital workforce, that can be built on top of existing technology platforms to reduce administrative bottlenecks.
Coronavirus has forced doctors, insurers to embrace telemedicine like never before. How do you see the impact?
In the current scenario, telemedicine grew out as rapidly because people are afraid of Covid-19 and its increased cases. Necessity is the mother of the invention, however in this case, the necessity has just pushed to utilize the technology to ease out and facilitate the people during their medical issues.
Telemedicine was considered as an option for routine chronic care appointments or quick check-ins. But the pandemic challenged medical professionals to find alternative ways to perform through video the services they assumed could be accomplished only in person before.
For Doctors: Where a lot of standalone practitioners are trying to abide by the norms of social distancing their regular patients at clinics were at risk of taking the brunt for it. Telemedicine and platforms like Swastha Samarth by Tattvan has allowed the doctors to connect with their patients digitally. The current situation of COVID 19 is just breaking prejudice, mental barriers, and hesitation amongst doctors and patients to make use of telemedicine for regular consultation. This change would enable the people on both sides to embrace the tech platform eventually.
For insurers: Recently, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has asked insurance companies to allow telemedicine consultations altogether with the terms and conditions of medical insurance policies as a part of the claim settlement of their policies. The only motive is to promote the adoption of telemedicine across the country. It will also encourage doctors to diagnose patients remotely, thereby maintaining social distance.
Futuristic Approach: After Telemedicine, Robotics could be used in assisting doctors and patients. Your thoughts?
As the latest technologies continue to sweep the current healthcare industry globally, we are aware of the fact that how medical providers are offering a range of innovative solutions to improve the quality of patient care. From the physical devices to smart healthcare systems, new technologies are helping doctors and patients connect in new different ways, transmit vital data in real time, and identify and treat life-threatening events faster than ever before. Robotic surgeries will allow doctors to perform many types of complex procedures with more precision, control, and flexibility.
According to me, it took more than a decade for us to finally get ourselves familiar with telemedicine; robotics will definitely take time to make their existence in the healthcare system. Any kind of transition requires a certain psychological faith and belief from the people. The future does hold robotics but in if anything looks promising post telemedicine then that is how well we can integrate AI in the field of medicine which would actually be of more assistance.
Mobile technology and AI gives a tremendous opportunity to healthcare services. How do you see the future?
Artificial Intelligence and Mobile Technology have seen exponential growth in their ability to consume a large amount of data and helps to produce authentic and clear insights that approach human-level accuracy. We have also seen the importance of artificial intelligence and mobile technology that have been deployed in different ways to lessen the impact of corona virus globally: from finding drugs to identifying early signs of the condition on medical images. In the future, we believe that in future AI could also be used to help with patient’s decision making too, by helping to develop more accurate models of risk.
Pandemic called for greater use of telehealth, where patients are able to see their doctor remotely via video-conferencing. It not only helped patients to reach out to their doctors for medical consultations but doctors were also able to provide their services remotely without taking risk of their as well as patients’ lives. Tele-health tools are being rapidly rolled out and demand is increasing but their effectiveness depends on whether doctors are willing to change their processes or not.
Mobile technology is extremely helpful in emergency situations, especially in rural areas. Virtual consultations via mobile provide a better way for people who live in rural areas to get quick assessment and information about their treatment. It can also useful for people who have difficulty accessing preventive care, such as seniors. Mobile technology can be used to help monitor patients’ medical conditions. It can also be used to communicate with patients, streamline your practice, and more.
Artificial Intelligence and Mobile Technology has dramatically expanded throughout the world over the last few years. According to me, it’s going to take a few years to get the full promise and execution, but it does bring one particular tool into the system that was never ever available before. Artificial Intelligence and Mobile technology have the potential to short-circuit the traditional methods to improve treatment, cut costs, and better accessibility.