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Emerging Healthcare Delivery Models

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5 minutes, 30 seconds read

Wearables, IoT devices, healthcare apps have significantly increased digital health access points for customers. The evolving nature of the digital health industry in India can be witnessed through the improved personalization and value-added services delivered to the consumers. To further multiply the digital health touchpoints, new healthcare delivery models are coming up to cater to specific healthcare needs and deliver a satisfying experience. Below are a few emerging healthcare delivery models: 

1. On-Demand Healthcare

The healthcare industry is beginning to welcome on-demand services for consumers who are already accustomed to receiving services anytime and anywhere from demand-driven brands such as Zomato, Uber, etc. Among the various digital healthcare services, e-pharmacies in India such as Medlife, Pharmeasy, have made a significant profit by making medicines and drugs available to customers in no time.

Quick booking of appointments, receiving digital medical reports, settling medical fees online, scheduling doctor visits, all of this can be done through smartphones. On-demand healthcare is gathering attention among consumers, especially millennials, needing mental health counseling, follow-up appointments, and quick recovery from wounds and minor illnesses. Due to the provision of healthcare anytime and anywhere, reduced expenses due to lessened hospital visits, deep interaction with patients, the on-demand healthcare model is growing. Express Care offered by Cleveland Clinic allows patients to consult virtual doctors in matters of non-life-threatening conditions like allergies, rashes, or back pain.   

This model also allows medical practitioners to work flexibly, depending on their schedule. It also lets the doctors appoint and cancel the dates of visits depending on their availability. For instance, besides being a clinical app for patients, Doctor on Demand has features such as email, payment system, messaging, etc. that help doctors to manage their patients.

2. Social Health Networks or Peer-based health networks

This model allows people and medical professionals to share views and hold discussions on health-related issues. This model also allows the doctors to address people’s health issues without any geographical barrier, motivates people to share their health experiences, and facilitates health literacy. As people belonging to different age groups are well versed and active on social media, social health network serves as an effective solution to encourage people to look after their health and provide emotional support to others. Any platform based on this model can also push people to create awareness through health-related campaigns. 

This model also facilitates maximizing health-related conversations and allows the exchanging of information among patients, medical professionals, and doctors- one-to-many and many-to-many conversations between patients-patients, doctors-patients, doctors-doctors. Even though this model is still at its developing stage, it is sure to gain momentum because people are starting to be upfront about their health problems, especially mental health issues. Organizations following this model can also leverage health data and provide effective health solutions. HealthUnlocked is a social networking service that empowers patients and promotes relevant health-related content. It focuses on building online support groups where patients can give health recommendations and insights to other patients. Medikoe launched We, a social network that publishes health-related content from qualified doctors and allows patients to connect with doctors. It is like any other social media where people can follow health professionals, and search, share, like health-related articles. It also encourages people to take up health challenges and updates people on upcoming health campaigns. 

3. Proactive Intervention

Chronic diseases account for more than 55% of total deaths in India. Increasing awareness and the use of healthcare technologies are prompting people to opt for preventive healthcare services to manage unexpected health issues. Proactive care lessens the chances of health deterioration through active dialogues between doctors and patients. Telemedicine is one such way through which health outcomes can be improved. As it facilitates easier transmission of patient data and increased access to HCPs, it holds the potential to reduce the mortality rate in India. This instant healthcare service provider model also allows remote monitoring of patients as health records can be transmitted in no time. 

As the model is compatible with wearable sensors, medical information such as blood pressure, heart rate, etc. can be monitored easily which helps in the early detection of diseases such as asthma, hypertension, heart-related diseases. Fitness trackers that are compatible with mobile applications help people in monitoring their health data as well. Health Care Originals developed ADAMM, an intelligent asthma monitoring wearable system that is attached to the upper body. It detects symptoms of asthma attacks- body temperature, heartbeat, cough rate, etc. Rubi Life is a MedTech company that uses nanotechnology in an elastic maternity band to monitor fetal activity in high-risk pregnancies. It sends alerts to the mother’s phone in order to prevent premature births, stillbirths, and to also avoid negative outcomes.  

4. Personalised Medicine & genomics

This model aims to improve the effectiveness of medicine by leveraging the patient’s health history, genetic characteristics, and lifestyle. Personalized medicine, also known as precision medicine improves health outcomes without any side effects. The unique genetic composition of patients helps in predicting disease and curing it before it starts affecting the body. This model disrupts the one-size-fits-all model as it takes into consideration the genomic composition and forms a pattern by observing a body’s reaction to drug dosages, thus promising accuracy. 

This model also reduces the trial and error inefficiencies and proves to be beneficial for medical professionals as it can reduce the failure and cost of pharmaceutical trials.  

K&H Personalised Medicine Clinic is the only healthcare facility in Hyderabad, India that provides personalized healthcare based on genomics, DNA analysis, and a patient’s medical history. As the genes are affected by diet, exercise, stress levels, and environmental factors, the K&H clinic takes into consideration all these factors to form a proper treatment strategy.

Conclusion

The emerging healthcare delivery models are aiming for cost-effective solutions that can save time and instantly cater to patient needs digitally. The digital healthcare market is growing at a compound annual growth of 27.41% during 2019-2024, and according to a recent report by McKinsey Global Institute, telemedicine services in India have the potential to replace in-person consultations by 30-40%. This shows that people are appreciating contactless solutions and are used to immediate gratification. While some of the healthcare delivery models are still at their nascent stage in India, some are experiencing good growth. As digital health consumers are starting to demand more, the emerging healthcare models have to make sure that they cater to their diverse needs instantly and efficiently.  Moreover, as healthcare facilities are unevenly distributed, the upcoming healthcare delivery systems should also make sure to maximize their touchpoints in order to reach every corner of the country.

Know about our work in Digital Health and how we have helped clients such as Suraksha Diagnostics, Abbvie, Religare Health Insurance, and SBI Health Insurance build mobile and web applications improving their operational efficiency and customer experience.

Further Readings:

  1. Building Consumer Trust in the Digital Healthcare Era
  2. HealthTech 101: How are Healthcare Technologies Reinventing Patient Care
  3. Virtual health: Delivering care through technology
  4. How Mobile Micro-Health Insurance can unlock ‘Digital for Bharat’?

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What will ‘Behavioural Changes’ Mean for India’s Digital Health Future

We are in the middle of a global pandemic, facing a threat unlike one never seen before. COVID-19 has been a reason for global concern since it has negatively impacted economies, shut down workplaces, and forced cities into lockdowns.

But history also tells us  that times of uncertainty also foster innovation. The pandemic has forced consumers and businesses to rethink how they behave both physically and digitally. As per McKinsey, COVID-19 has speeded up the adoption of digital technologies.

India, which was on the cusp of a ‘digital health’ revolution, has now been forced to embrace innovation and emerging trends. The healthcare sector holds great promise since new-age technologies like telemedicine, robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), genomics, etc. are transforming healthcare services.

There have been unprecedented changes in consumer behaviour as well. People are now increasingly relying on using the internet to find clinical information or engage with healthcare professionals digitally. Moreover, online consultations, telemedicine, and e-pharmacies have seen a rise in popularity.

Companies will thus need to capitalize on the changing patterns of consumption and health-seeking behaviour.

This article focuses on how changing patient behaviour will affect India’s digital health future.

A growing Indian healthcare market

According to a report by Future Health Index, India is a leader in the adoption of digital health technology. As per India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF), the Indian healthcare market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 22% to reach a valuation of USD 372 billion by 2022. This growth can be attributed to the following –

  • Growing health awareness
  • Aging population
  • Lifestyle-related diseases
  • Rising income levels
  • Growth of internet availability

The rise of digital health start-ups is also playing a role in the growth of the healthcare sector. Indian health tech startup landscape has now matured.

Over the last few years, telemedicine has emerged as a fast-growing sector in India. Prominent start-ups like Practo, mfine, and Lybrate have established themselves in the telehealth market. McKinsey estimates that India could save up to USD10 billion by 2025 by using telemedicine instead of in-person doctor appointments.

COVID-induced behavioural changes

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about changes to patient behaviour. The fear of leaving homes to get treatment has led to the growth of virtual care and telemedicine. 

As per a report by Accenture, almost 70% of the patients canceled or postponed their treatments due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Technology, therefore, played a crucial role in helping patients continue their care. Healthcare providers were even able to improve the experience for patients by delivering them faster response time, personalized interactions, and the convenience of getting consultation from home.

The same report by Accenture highlights some key behavioural changes that are being observed in patients – 

  • Nearly half of the patients now get their treatment at their homes instead of visiting a clinic.
  • Almost 60% of patients want to continue using technology for communicating with healthcare providers.
  • About 41% of patients now use video conferencing to connect with their healthcare providers. Of these, for almost 70% of patients, it’s their first-time using video conferencing for healthcare.
  • Almost 44% of patients used new apps or devices during the pandemic to manage their health conditions.

All this highlights the need for healthcare providers to reimagine their patient engagement strategies in keeping with the changing patient behavior.

Future of digital health in India

New digital technologies and tools are making an impact across the healthcare sector. They hold great promise in improving the efficiency of healthcare services while delivering better patient care. Below are some of the technological developments that are expected to revolutionize the way we seek healthcare.

Telemedicine

About 68% of India’s population lives in rural areas where healthcare services are not usually up to the mark. This barrier can be overcome by telemedicine that offers an excellent way for patients to consult a doctor in a much shorter duration. Telemedicine can cut waiting times and allow patients to avoid traveling to a clinic or hospital. Some other benefits of telemedicine include –

  • Immediate access to specialist healthcare providers.
  • Cost-effectiveness.
  • Improved quality of care.
  • Convenience to the patients.
  • Improved patient engagement.

Internet of medical things (IoMT)

The rapid growth of IoMT devices is rapidly changing healthcare delivery by playing an important role in tracking and preventing chronic illnesses.

It not only helps eliminate the need for in-person medical visits but also helps reduce costs. Goldman Sachs estimates IoMT to save USD 300 billion annually for the healthcare industry. IoMT will benefit those patients the most who are unable to get access to quality healthcare due to remote location.

Big data in healthcare

There has been dramatic growth in the amount of medical and health data in the last few years. These massive datasets can be used to draw insights and opportunities for healthcare organizations. Analysis of healthcare data can help discover warning signs and create preventive plans.

The widespread adoption of IoT devices also makes it easier to monitor heart rate, blood pressure, etc. This can help in the early detection of diseases like hypertension, asthma, heart problems, etc.

Electronic medical records

Electronic medical records or EMRs help collect, digitalize patients’ information, and store it in a single place. EMRs store various types of medical data like medical history, prescriptions, drug allergies, etc. and allow doctors to make accurate disease prognosis in a much shorter time. Some other benefits of EMRs include – 

  • Effective medical decisions.
  • Easy data recovery.
  • Improved collaboration.
  • Portability.
  • Security of medical data.

Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) has a big role to play in improving healthcare since growing digitization leads to the availability of a large amount of health data. AI has the potential to transform everyday health management in the following ways –

  • Improved accessibility of healthcare services (for example – the AI-based mobile app Ada is available across 140 countries and makes it possible for anyone to have access to medical guidance).
  • Improved efficiency.
  • Accurate disease diagnosis.
  • Improved insights to reveal early disease risks (for example – a popular app Verily can forecast noncontagious and hereditary genetic diseases).
  • Time and cost savings.

mHealth

Mobile health or mHealth refers to the monitoring and sharing of health data via mobile technology like health tracking apps or wearables. 

mHealth apps can prove to be beneficial in increasing patient engagement, providing health education, and offering remote consultations to patients. It can also use the data from wearable devices to improve the quality of care. Some other benefits of mHealth include – 

  • Faster access to physicians.
  • Improved medication adherence.
  • Remote patient monitoring.
  • Increased medication reconciliation accuracy.
  • Improved coordination between healthcare providers and patients.

Conclusion

It’s quite clear that COVID-19 has significantly impacted patient behaviour. There has been a growing preference for telehealth and mHealth apps. But all of this has also compelled healthcare organizations to put in more effort in adapting to these behavioural changes. Healthcare providers are opting to rely more on new technologies to continue delivering patient care. A more affordable standard of high-quality care is in the works for India’s digital health future.

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