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Upcoming Healthcare Trends in 2021

General attitude towards health and well-being has evolved significantly with greater emphasis on preventive healthcare

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With the approval of Covishield and Covaxin vaccines, India is now set to undertake the largest mass immunization exercise witnessed anywhere in the world and there are many reasons to feel optimistic about it. As we look back at the start of the pandemic, developing and having these vaccines available at a commercial scale within a year is by no means a small feat. This not only demonstrates the perseverance of our scientific community but also establishes the importance of investing in quality healthcare. 

Among other things, what we learnt from the pandemic was to remain ahead of the curve. We know many nations have been struggling to deal with the crisis. We all witnessed during Covid how Telemedicine came as a savior and allowed our patient community to remain connected with their healthcare providers without increasing the risk of infection. Technology platforms were ready to take on this challenge. Imagine if this crisis had struck us ten years ago. We’re already seeing the benefits of these digital investments in front of our eyes and many exciting new frontiers are being explored. More resilient systems need to be developed that provide flexibility and ease of use without compromising on the data privacy for broader adoption. 

We generally talk about healthcare challenges in terms of three pillars: affordability, accessibility and quality of care. However, there’s a bigger need to focus on the fourth pillar - information. These are all patient centric challenges. Our patient community not only faces hurdles in connecting with the right doctor and getting quality care but also in finding credible information. With the high penetration of the internet and smartphones, thankfully, we’ve lot of information at our fingertips but it’s not easy to get reliable information in a timely manner. Healthcare is a very personal matter and since healthcare deals with people’s lives, building trust takes time. As we look ahead, business and technology leaders would be looking at building sustainable solutions that people can trust. 

Data will reign supreme and drive healthcare policy making. We’ll see the implementation of the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) at a bigger scale. This will greatly help data hungry technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to explore newer ways to help consumers in making informed decisions and taking better control of their health journeys. NDHM and the proposed use of individual health IDs will make healthcare delivery more efficient and transparent while ensuring the associated data is easy to find, accessible, interoperable and reusable.   Digital solutions and devices in the form of tele-health, electronic health records, wearables, sensors etc. will find more takers and generate huge amounts of data that could be harnessed for targeted applications. Digital capabilities based on AI offer great potential. Examples such as detecting depression symptoms based on child’s speech patterns; providing more accurate mental health diagnosis based on MRIs; recognizing patterns of CT scans to help cancer specialists with decision support; providing better and faster blood tests and many more applications of AI will become more commonplace.  

General attitude towards health and well-being has evolved significantly with greater emphasis on preventive healthcare. Many from large cities have started demonstrating a more consumer-centric approach towards healthcare. Corporates have been investing a lot in providing a variety of employee assistance programs in the form of wellness initiatives, tele-health and home-based care for the elderly and this trend will gain momentum. Despite a promising outlook, it remains to be seen if these technology and behavioural trends would be able to dissolve all barriers in benefitting the common man or remain confined to metro and large cities. Leaders in the healthcare sector have the opportunity to meet this challenge that can only be addressed with a concerted effort from all stakeholders.  

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.

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healthcare trends 2021

Alok Awasthi

Founder, SeekMed

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