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​Dell develops ​​digital healthcare platform- Digital LifeCare​ for reducing the incidence rate of NCDs across the country

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While newer technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things (IoT), and commercial SaaS offerings are making inroads in healthcare, open-source technology is frequently seen as the most cost-effective and accessible option. Dell Technologies has developed Digital LifeCare, a flagship digital inclusion initiativ​e ​to help India address the rising burden of NCDs at population scale. It is a digital healthcare platform launched​​ as part of the Ayushman Bharat initiative in 2018. Mallari Kulkarni – Head, Digital LifeCare, Dell Technologies speaking to Express Computer informs  the platform is linked to the Ayushman Bharat Health Account (ABHA) ID, citizens no longer need to carry paper health records and can provide access to their health data with consent
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​​How is Dell Technologies addressing the burden of non-communicable (NCDs) in India?

Under the aegis of our 2030 goal for transforming a billion lives, Dell Technologies is connecting underserved and underrepresented groups to skills and resources, delivering the benefits of technology for all. ​​Digital LifeCare is a flagship digital inclusion initiative of Dell Technologies developed to help India address the rising burden of NCDs at population scale. It is a ​​digital healthcare platform launched as part of the Ayushman Bharat initiative in 2018 to support the National Population-Based NCD Screening, Prevention and Management program. The platform assists frontline healthcare workers and doctors across primary and secondary levels to screen, diagnose and manage NCDs, thus enabling a continuum of care across different levels throughout the patient journey.

Digital LifeCare focuses on the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s (MoHFW) NCD program that monitors five diseases i.e., Diabetes, Hypertension, Oral, Breast and Cervical Cancers. NCDs continue to be a cause of concern for public health globally and in India.  A statistic that draws attention is that worldwide, NCDs account for 74% of all deaths. In India specifically, the country has gone through an epidemiological transition from communicable diseases like typhoid and cholera to NCDs like cardiovascular diseases and cancers, with 61% of the deaths caused by NCDs since 2016. What makes NCDs dangerous is that most of them are silent – meaning most people do not know until it is at an advanced stage because of the absence of conventional symptoms. Given the nature of the disease, patients require assistance right from screening to management including long term treatment compliance to achieve favorable health outcomes.

​​How has India progressed in terms of developing and expanding its digital healthcare infrastructure?

India’s digital journey continues to inspire us at Dell, with its demonstration of how technology can be used to solve some of the most pressing societal problems. In terms of digital health, India has made significant progress thanks to the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM) which aims to build the backbone of integrated digital health infrastructure and bridge existing gaps between different stakeholders via digital highways. To achieve the SDG 3.4 of reducing NCD mortality, the government aims to screen 300 million +citizens for timely identification and management of these 5 NCDs.

The CPHC NCD system, based on Dell’s Digital LifeCare platform, helps health service providers to capture screening & treatment data at service delivery point. To explain this further – ABDM has enabled seamless patient care delivery while integrating interoperability in healthcare systems, and as a result, more than 1.5 lakh Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs) have been operationalized. These HWCs have witnessed a footfall of 135 crore since 2018. The government’s constant push towards data digitization across all healthcare touchpoints has improved data quality and data accessibility for citizens, health care providers, and policymakers. Furthermore, since t​​he platform is linked to the Ayushman Bharat Health Account (ABHA) ID, citizens no longer need to carry paper health records and can provide access to their health data with consent.

Through our partnership with the MoHFW, we are pleased to see how a structural framework is helping​​ in reducing the incidence rate of NCDs across the country. The healthcare industry as a whole is undergoing a massive transformation by bringing healthcare services closer to or at home, similar to how UPI enabled the shift from in-person banking to mobile banking.

​​How have your partnerships with the Indian Government and Tata Trusts helped?

The collaboration between the Indian government, Dell Technologies, and Tata Trusts has resulted in the deployment of the Digital LifeCare platform in 32 states/UT, with 4 states/UT using custom solutions to send aggregated data. Moreover, the government’s strong emphasis on utilizing technology in healthcare has resulted in enrolling 41.40 crore beneficiaries in the NCD program, generating/linking 1.18 crore ABHA IDs, and 78 lakh patients are under treatment for hypertension and diabetes.

For Dell, this partnership reflects our dedication to leveraging technology and transforming the lives of 1 billion people globally by 2030. The Digital LifeCare team at Dell collaborates with healthcare providers, the government, and the technology community in both the public and private sectors to deliver high-quality and effective results. The development of the Digital LifeCare platform was made possible through the use of collaborative design thinking with various entities including the government, non-government organizations, and institutes like NHSRC, AIIMS, ICMR, World Health Organization India office, among many other health research organizations across India.

​​What are some of the technology trends that we are witnessing across the healthcare sector in India? How will these trends shape the future of the ecosystem?

With technology continuing to be the underlying factor, the healthcare landscape in India will see significant changes, particularly in terms of patient monitoring and treatment compliance. More importantly, technologies like 5G, AI, and IoT, will improve the speed, access, and overall efficiency of the healthcare ecosystem.

​​AI and IoT devices combined with 5G will enable seamless patient monitoring

Wearables and AI-enhanced apps have the potential to be used in urban areas on a large scale to analyze medical data and assist doctors in making more accurate diagnoses, while also providing patients with a detailed analysis of their health status in terms of heart rate, sleep score, oxygen level, blood pressure, and so on. Furthermore, while AI and IoT devices will eventually provide doctors with actionable insights, they will also reduce the number of times patients must visit healthcare centers for check-ups. Large hospital groups and healthcare professionals are already embracing engagement technology tools to provide patients with reliable information. However, to ensure more holistic management of NCDs, it is important to equip the frontline healthcare providers in rural areas with tech-enabled diagnostic tools that can assist in early identification of risk factors, timely access to care and treatment adherence. Most importantly, the incorporation of 5G will allow for faster data transfers with healthcare providers, paving the way for improved remote care.  The introduction of connected ambulances with 5G network and patient monitoring applications is an excellent example of using technology to provide healthcare services at every touchpoint.

​​Edge computing for effective data storage and management

With the rising dependency on AI and IoT-enabled devices, comes a substantial increase in the production of patient-generated health data, further necessitating solutions for data storage and management. The IDC estimates that the data generated by IoT will reach 79.4 zettabytes by 2025. Edge data centres can help manage and analyze this data collected by sensors and other medical devices closer to the patients themselves, reducing latency and enhancing efficiency. Many healthcare IT specialists believe that this proximity of computing and storage resources has the potential to revolutionize the healthcare sector by delivering almost instantaneous processing.

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