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Outlook And Foreseeable Trends In 2021

The crisis unearthed numerous loopholes of the healthcare delivery system, policy framework and the year 2021 is an opportunity for us to fix all these gaps

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Mental trauma, person­al health risk, extended work hours, personal and professional uncer­tainties … have all been a regular day for front line care givers in 2020. It undoubtedly has been one of the most challenging years in the history of both the Indian as well as the global healthcare in­dustry and economy. While it has been a testing time on the one hand, on the other, the healthcare sector has been revolution­ised in terms of agility, preparedness, and robustness. 

With the turn of the year, the pandemic continues and while the healthcare industry has shown resilience and coped with the turmoil and challenges with all its might, 2021 will require similar effort. Yet, the twelve months of efforts at crisis manage­ment made at various counts by the core and allied healthcare service divisions have offered learnings which can make 2021 a year of remarkable progress for the sector. 

The silver lining of this dark cloud was that the Covid-19 Indian government realised the need and importance of connected health­care, enabled by digitisation and techno­logical advancements. Policy efforts like revision and finalisation of Tele-medicine guidelines and introduction of the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) have set the tone for health-tech startups and other institutions to eliminate inefficiencies and build a stronger, democratic and a more in­clusive healthcare system. 

But this vision can only be achieved when all stakeholders function collaboratively. Some trends that the industry should look out for are listed below.

Omni-channel Services 

Covid-19 restricted physical mobility but that didn’t stop patients from accessing healthcare. In fact, with the help of digi­tal solutions the process was made more convenient and effective. In the year 2021, healthcare players and the authorities should see this as an opportunity to build connected and integrated healthcare solu­tions which seamlessly integrate in-person services with digital ones. Not only will this reduce the burden on hospitals and clin­ics but will also make ERM, diagnostics, medicine delivery and healthcare at home smoother and effective.

Evolution of Management Systems 

While there has been an encouraging movement towards digitisation, the Indian healthcare system, especially in tier-2 and tier-3 cities largely remains pen and pa­per dominant. Having said that, Hospital Management Systems have rapidly grown across the world with about 80 per cent of self-employed clinicians (below the age of 50) adopting OCS and EMR in a study con­ducted by NCBI. This trend is here to stay and will be the first step towards strength­ening ambulatory care systems in India. In fact, with the NDHM guidelines and sandboxes increasingly becoming avail­able, it will force the evolution of new-age systems compliant with NDHM digital ar­chitecture. 

Internet of Medical Things (IoMT): 

The medical fraternity and the startup community have been quick to integrate telemedicine, tech-health innovations, and IoT developments to create a new Internet of Medical Things (IoMT). Integration of information from medical wearable devic­es including data from trackers including food, workout, glucose levels, ECG, EKG, skin temperature, pulse readers and more, makes analysis fairly meticulous and sharp. By 2025, the IoT business could be worth more than $6 trillion globally. 

Upsurge in Proactive Diagnostics 

Our nation needs to build a habit of pro­active and systematic testing. In the year 2020 people realised the value of personal health and immunity and hashtag ‘Self-care’ became a clear priority. 

We need to build on this self-awareness and realise that maintaining and monitor­ing basic parameters of good health like vitamin levels, blood sugar levels, healthy lipid profile etc. is a must do and therefore, proactive diagnostics is imperative. 

Health at the Workplace 

On the professional front, 2020 made us realise the importance of technology and digital integration. The year 2021 will make it imperative for us to integrate proactive health at the workplace – inclusion of bi­osecurity measures like sanitisation, on premise screening, ensuring mental health support and more – are some measures which will help keep the community safe and healthy. 

It is said that what doesn’t break you, makes you stronger and the Covid pandemic is a calamity which should be viewed with this ray of hope and positivity. The crisis un­earthed numerous loopholes of the health­care delivery system, policy framework and the year 2021 is an opportunity for us to fix all these gaps to emerge as a stronger health­care system.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Saurabh Kochhar

Founder & CEO, Meddo

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