The adoption of automated technologies and non-contact systems has been increasingly activated during the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to affect how the health system in India evolves even after the pandemic ends, providing opportunities for health tech players.
COVID-19 has intensified the current change in the healthcare industry through the usage of healthcare technology, giving preference to patient-centric remote monitoring solutions and introducing non-contact technologies. It is particularly engaging in countries like India with inadequate or unequal healthcare services, a small proportion of healthcare professionals, and a high population density, as well as in regions where the population is at high risk.
Dealing with the implications of the pandemic has also forced policymakers to prepare to improve access to and strengthen the capability of emergency health facilities and laboratory research, which is why the role of emerging technology in optimizing the usage of resources should increase.
The ongoing pandemic and the current lack of vaccination should mean that telehealth facilities and telemedicine, in particular, will be favored soon. This offers health tech manufacturers and service providers in India a critical window of opportunity – to tap into emerging developments in the healthcare industry, penetrate local audiences, and promote the need for successful remote patient treatment and long-term monitoring.
Although not at a nascent stage, India’s health technology sector has specifically concentrated on seeking alternatives to particular problems in the healthcare infrastructure and emerging customer needs. Before COVID-19, the industry focused on designing testing and medication distribution technologies, creating wearable devices, addressing lifestyle-related problems by virtual intervention, allowing early detection of hereditary diseases, and alleviating discomfort after traumatic procedures.
With the disruption caused by the pandemic and the successful application of remote patient care technologies, the emphasis of health technology in India will be diversified. Key areas where new opportunities will arise include the advancement of emergency care solutions and improved medical services by technology-based innovation, including new smart devices, mobile health apps, and increased application of artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and blockchain technologies.
In India, COVID-19 has now brought the concept of telemedicine to the mainstream, allowing doctors to diagnose a multitude of patients by video conferencing devices and help alleviate some of the immediate stresses on the country's overburdened healthcare system. The systems provide long-distance patients and clinicians contact, treatment, guidance, updates, instruction, communication, monitoring, and remote admissions.
In March 2020, the Indian Government released Telemedicine Practice Guidelines to allow licensed medical practitioners under the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, to provide healthcare services utilizing telecommunications and emerging technology.
The guidelines accept the following patient consultation types – visual, audio, and text, including mobile, multimedia screens, messaging platforms, telephone, fax, or special remote consultation applications. The licensed practitioners shall exercise their judgment on whether a teleconsultation is appropriate or if the individual needs an in-person appointment. The consultants have to maintain a database of the telemedicine interaction as well as medical information, reports, images, diagnostic data, and other related records.