The current pandemic has provided countless lessons and clues about how we might better prepare for the future. It has uncovered or reinforced consumer behaviors and actions that can fundamentally alter healthcare as we know it. We anticipate that existing players will change their business models, and new players will enter with new models that not only resist pandemics on their own, but also increase the overall resilience of health systems. We discuss some of these healthcare models in this article without claiming to be exhaustive or prophetic. We also limit ourselves to the health ecosystem in South Asia, and specifically India at times, to provide depth at the expense of breadth and also serve as an illustration for similar markets across the globe in development.
Places of Worship and Religion
With increasing pressures on the economy and increasing unemployment and homelessness, the number of Americans in Medicaid positions will increase, and with this growth it will be necessary to provide Creative low-cost community healthcare sites. Churches, mosques and synagogues will become places of community care for underserved patients.
Affordable medical devices
India relies heavily on the import of medical technology products that are designed for developed markets, not necessarily of better quality, but with better features and more. In addition to a higher price tag, there are other challenges associated with adopting these products such as language barriers, ease of use, and connectivity. Make-in-India manufacturers devote considerable time and resources to receiving USFDA or EU CE certifications to realize their marketability. On the demand side, doctors have also shown a reluctance to switch from renowned global manufacturers to local brands. However, the disruption of supply chains from China and soaring demand for products such as personal protective equipment (PPE), patient monitoring devices, and ventilators have shown the need to strengthen the domestic sector. manufacturing of medical devices.
Self-health management facilitators
Digital Therapeutics (DT) and smart wearable devices that complement clinical care have slowly but steadily gained acceptance in India. DT apps provide real-time health advice on key areas such as diet and exercise to dynamically manage glucose / blood pressure levels, enabling better clinical outcomes. Smartwatches and fitness apps have the ability to measure and record health data, including vital signs, sleep patterns, and physical activity. These data can indicate disease progression or likelihood of disease, thereby transforming health care from simply “reactive” to “preventive.”
Artificial intelligence and portable biometric monitoring
These technologies, more than any other, will help propel a decentralized healthcare delivery platform. AI will democratize optimal medical care by using large amounts of patient data and best practice evidence to guide diagnosis and treatment. Point-of-care diagnostic technologies (think Tricorder in Star Trek) will allow medical providers to have instant confirmation of patient diagnoses in decentralized settings. This will reduce costs and speed up access to appropriate treatment. Portable biometric monitoring devices will allow patients and healthcare providers to remotely monitor their health status, enabling safe medical care at home or at other decentralized care sites.
Teleconsulting solves two key issues that plague Indian healthcare: uneven distribution of healthcare professionals (concentrated in cities) and financial barriers to care. Banking on the telecom revolution of the past three years, teleconsulting was seeing a steady uptake in semi-urban and rural India offering patients the ability to consult with doctors in urban areas at low costs. Further, teleconsulting also allowed doctors to widen their reach and increase productivity.
During COVID-19, teleconsulting has seen increased demand from these segments. It has also helped urban patients get connected to their doctors with “anytime, anywhere” consultations for follow-ups and second opinions. Many hospital chains have adopted this technology for their outreach to existing patients during this lockdown. Demand for mental health services has also seen a rise from the projected increase in mental health issues related to the prolonged confinement during COVID-19. Mental health consultations, where telemedicine offers a refuge from the unfortunate stigma of a visit to the psychiatrist, have also seen a surge in demand.
COVID-19 has brought well-known challenges to the Indian healthcare system to the fore. Although digital innovations and healthcare infrastructure can be implemented overnight, upgrading the skills of trained healthcare workers overnight is not possible, especially with already existing healthcare workers. reached its limits. We need to start giving our frontline healthcare workers digital knowledge and literacy that will help them on their digital health adoption journey, and it needs to start in medical and nursing schools.