The Health of Healthcare: Now & Next

BY: VOH - 13 Feb-2023

Exclusive Interview with Mr Abdullah Saleem, Group CIO - Omni Hospitals.

Mr Abdullah Saleem - Group CIO of Omni Hospitals - is a veteran of the healthcare space. In this exclusive Q&A with Voice of Healthcare, he touches upon the big talking points that are taking the space by storm. From the disruption of technology to evolving care ecosystems to the opportunities that await enterprising entrepreneurs, here are 5 minutes of crystal ball-gazing into a future that’s truly without limits. 

What position do you think Indian healthcare start-ups are in right now, and how are they doing?

The healthcare sector is growing rapidly in the Indian landscape in terms of revenue as well as market share globally. Indian healthcare start-up focusing on three area majorly to ensure their growth to the next level and those three wings are: 

1.    Healthcare access and delivery 
2.    Affordable healthcare
3.    Quality Healthcare 

The Organizations are moving from opting primary healthcare solutions to digital healthcare solutions due to Covid-19. However, still, there are significant challenges ahead that they would be facing mostly on the budgeting for getting their organization completely digitised as the industry have understood that without adopting the digital platform, it is impossible to provide the convenient and cost-effective care delivery. The most of the healthcare start-ups either mid or big level of corporate hospitals strategize their business performances based on the data outcome and analytics right from patient acquisition to conversion for the continuous improvement of patient foot fall to get the better result of top and bottom line of their business revenue. 

One of the biggest healthcare start-ups in India, Netmeds is an online platform that has firmly established itself as India’s leading online pharmacy with millions of active customers and deliveries to more than 19,000 PIN codes. It is also Known as ‘Pharmacy of India’ and offers streamlined shopping for medicines and other healthcare products through its 24x7 online portal and mobile app.

On the other side, the healthcare care organization has started ensuring to mitigate all the issues and challenges which was faced by the patient unlike travelling to meet the doctor, poor customer service, crowded & long waiting time, unhygienic, no sample pickup and report delivery etc by deploying the digital platform to wards the better patient satisfaction and patient engagement. 

Over the past few years, healthcare has seen a dramatic evolution. New developments and trends in the healthcare sector are being developed by start-ups in that sector. Do you believe the healthcare services offered by start-ups to patients are of high quality?

Yes of-course as this industry is extremely competitive having a big market. Hence the healthcare start-ups are coming in the business with well through thinking having strong strategy in the ease of patient and their convenient by ensuring the cost effective and quality healthcare is being delivered by connecting to the best doctors and supporting business partners with the state-of-the-art technology adoption having right people and processes in place. The start-ups are connecting the rural health by considering a major stack to get the revenue generated for the organisation.

There is one start-up which calls itself a one-stop solution for all medical needs, like Medecure, it is also an aggregator of hospitals, doctors, laboratories, and clinics. It has 5,000 doctors and 80 affiliates (hospitals, diagnostic clinics, and pharmacists) on its panel across the region. Based on patient need, it is being prescribe the best doctors, hospitals, and diagnostic centres in and around their locality. The organization has empanelled doctors and hospitals based on the rating of the patient ratings and user reviews. 

The big or small start-ups  in the healthcare industry have the better understanding of the patient /customer demands which is mostly related to cost & affordability, time saving and at the door delivery hence all the communication and pertaining to the needs of the consumer is being taken care of by adopting the technology to deliver the services on time.

Do you believe Artificial Intelligence is making a sufficient contribution to the expansion of start-up healthcare companies in India?

Yes it is making the sufficient contribution to plan the business growth, once the data is in place the AI and predictive analytics will laid a growth pathway having a better accuracy than manual thought process and assumption based on the digital data consolidation. It will also predict that what are the business department to be emphasis for better business and what are the department/ speciality should be put on the full stop. In other word, the AI enables the organisation leadership to plan their expansion of the business with a minimum calculative risk. It also help to treat the patient during patient treatment care plan and prevent to the clinicians to avoid the clinical errors. Few of the recent studies have proven that AI based disease diagnosis is more accurate compared to the doctor’s diagnosis and findings. 

Since AI is the one of the component if IoT, it would be helping to healthcare product development company to designed and developed the application ensuring the ease of use to the application, hence, end users adoption of the digital platform will be more effective from the 1st day of the go-live of the digital platform especially to the clinical users. 

Hospitals and doctors may streamline operations, engage patients, streamline procurement procedures, and more with the help of digital care ecosystems provided by health tech start-ups. What are your thoughts on it?

It is not the question that health tech start should be empowering the digital ecosystem whereas it is the need of the current healthcare industry as it has been understood by the industry that without digitisation cost effective, quality delivery is not possible. As far as the tech start-up is concerned, it is of course empowering the future of the healthcare across the global market especially in India.

These start-ups offer innovative solutions across the medical verticals such as telemedicine, e-pharmacy, diagnostic, digital transformation, mental health monitoring, health fitness, and wellness, and many more. The health tech start-ups are the spur in driving accuracy and elevated patient &  HCPs outcomes. The digitisation of patient health records, data mining and banking on data analytics are offering healthcare providers insights into clinical data, facilitating informed decision-making at the point of care about diagnosis and helping them provide the right treatment at the right time to the right patient.

What opportunities and threats do you think Indian start-ups in the healthcare industry face?

Due to the immense scale and potential of the current market space , there are countless opportunities for learning and growth, as well as commercial engagement, for all stakeholders in Indian healthcare associations, authorities, and organisations. In the year of 2018, India had over 5000 healthcare start-ups, and this number is exploding and rising as we go along. The post COVID-19, the world has also raised many questions on healthcare and the need for adequate healthcare facilities in a country teeming with billions.

This growth in the industry is primarily due to an ageing population, a growing middle class, a rising proportion of lifestyle diseases, a greater emphasis on public & private partnerships, and accelerated adoption of digital technologies, including telemedicine, tele-health in addition to increased investor interest and FDI inflows over the last two & half decades. 

Secondly, the adoption of the digital platform was not a mandatory  for the healthcare provider and there was no minimum budget used to be allocated for the IT infrastructure an application wherein Covid-19 arena has enforced to this industry to adopting the digital platform as it was the demand from the clinicians and the patient fraternity towards the better patient engagement among the doctors, hospitals and the patients.

Before Covid arrived, the healthcare industry was the minimal adopter of the digitisation unlike banking, retail, mortgage &manufacturing. Now in the current state, this it the industry is adopting the technology on a very fast track by putting a clear and firm understanding that data is very important and without data consolidation, it will not be possible to be in the race of healthcare business and on the hand, the patient and clinicians have demanded the digital platform have the better engagement & experiences.

How did this year go for Indian healthcare start-ups? What are their expectations for the future and where do they envision themselves as 2023 draws closer?

The Healthcare start-ups --product provider was evolving with deep diving and it has been implemented up to a few mile though a many more miles to go to enabling the access for  private and public’s healthcare sectors including the rural healthcare in India. Post Covid-19, it has started taking the better shape where the new healthcare start-ups coming up with deep innovation and top-up as value added tools by bundling with the available native application in the market instead of re-inventing the wheel. In other words, the start-ups focusing directly to the pain area of the missing elements of the digitisation like remote patient monitoring (RMP) , home care working with the integration of existing native application of the hospitals to ensure that patients are being treated with cost effective, time saving with comfort. 

As far as 2023 is concern, the evolving of start-ups footprint will keep increasing and it will be more than doubled in terms business revenue and acquiring more customers across India and the globe of course. The healthcare start-ups would be improving the heath care organization by: 

1.    Boosting the efficiency of healthcare providers
2.    Transformative solutions leveraging technologies such as AI and ML are helping automate manual processes
3.    Moreover, digital care ecosystems offered by healthcare start-ups for doctors and hospitals are enabling   streamlining of operations, taking care of booking appointments, monitoring patients, administrative functions, procurement processes, patient engagement, and more
4.    Moreover, by using AI, digital twin, etc. these emerging organizations would be helping to design personalised, cutting-edge treatments
5.    Designing novel treatments
6.    Healthtech start-ups are also rapidly grow in the field of genomics and biotech
7.    Making diagnostics affordable
8.    Monitoring and leading healthier lives
9.    Wearables or IoT (Internet of Things) devices such as smartwatches, fitness trackers, ECG monitors, blood pressure monitors, biosensors will be more effectively used with integration of the native application.

What do you think about the current state and prospects for your organization in the digitally driven healthcare ecosystem?

The digital health or digital healthcare is a broad multidisciplinary concept that includes concepts from an intersection between technology and healthcare providers. The digital health applies digital transformation to the healthcare field, incorporating software, hardware, and services. Under its umbrella, the digital health includes mobile health apps, electronic health records, electronic medical records , wearable devices, telehealth, and telemedicine, as well as personalized medicine other health records.

The Stakeholders in the digital health field include patients, practitioners, researchers, application developers, and medical device manufacturers and distributors. Digital healthcare plays an increasingly key role in healthcare today. These drivers are component which helps to consolidate the data time to time during course of the treatment of the patient. These are components ensure a robust healthcare ecosystem to have the continuous better clinical & quality outcomes. 

As it has been understood that information and communications technology to provide digital health interventions to prevent disease and improve quality of healthcare delivery & human life isn't a new concept. However, in the face of global concerns, related to aging, mother & childcare illness and mortality, epidemics and pandemics, excessive costs, and the effects of poverty and racial discrimination on access to healthcare, digital health platforms, health systems and related technology continue to grow in importance and to evolve. Hence Omni Group of Hospitals has taken multiple technology adoption initiatives by having a strong feeling that digital transformation by reaching to the HIMSS- Stage 7 (a complete paperless) operation clinically and non-clinically is the only choice to serve the patient to ensure occupying the better patient delights, patient experiences & enabling quality care delivery within the individual reach of the patients. 

Since the healthcare industry has taken giant leaps forward, it looks like we have only scratched the surface. With the research & invention of newer technologies like IoT and many more disruptive use cases, vaccines for dangerous viruses, treatments for critical illnesses, early diagnosis for genetic disorders, treatments for mental conditions, geriatric conditions and more, all seem within reach. Fuelled by enthusiastic Healthtech founders and healthcare providers and strong investors, the future of healthcare in India seems bright indeed.

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