While most of us think health to be a direct function of healthcare, the two are not, and should not always, be dependant on each other. The two need to be differentiated for the simple reason that most healthcare practices are focused on post-diagnostic care, which does not satisfy the complete checklist for being termed as healthy. Good health is not the mere absence of disease and freedom from illness, but a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being.
Thus ideally, for healthcare to lead to good health, it should cover not merely sick and medical care, but also all aspects primary, preventive and promotive care too. In India, currently, 90% of the expenditure on health is OOP (out of pocket). Many patients do not get the right treatment, because it’s often unaffordable for them. The private healthcare sector is expensive, while the public sector and the hospitals are overburdened and lack the infrastructure or skilled workforce needed to scale up and facilitate treatment.
The healthcare sector requires streamlining in order to be effective and efficient, and technology is the key to it. It will prove to be a game changer for the manner in which healthcare services shall be delivered in India. An analysis by Accenture Global says – “Now, more than ever, it is critical to embrace technology as it has become a must-have tool for transforming patient engagement, enabling personalized medicine, augmenting labour and contributing to better outcomes.”
One of the key pillars of health transformation is being able to provide access to good quality healthcare, to as large a segment of the population as possible. We need to strive to provide a state-of-the-art, low cost, self-sustained, scalable, healthcare delivery model for urban and rural India. We need to bring in the latest portable diagnostic tools in an integrated manner with patient health record, connected to the 24/7 network and interoperability with doctors, hospitals and labs. With the understanding of the role of technology we need to focus on changing the way healthcare is delivered in India. We need to bring about a fundamental shift of healthcare from sick care to preventive and promotive care.
Gaining access to the right information, understanding it, and acting on it is often turn out to be more difficult than it appears. What obstacles does one face on this path? While everyone wants to look, live and feel better, what does is translate to in practical terms, more importantly, how do we get there? These are few questions that the implementation of right technology can address. The healthcare technology is not new and has been in use from decades, but never before has it been seamlessly integrated to provide accurate basic screening and personal recommendations for preventive healthcare. Awareness, education and access to healthcare information is pertinent to the success of such a mission. It’s only when we proactively give the control back to the consumers and let them take positive and independent action towards taking charge of their health that we can reduce the disease burden and make significant headway in becoming a healthier country.
It is obvious preventive care is the road ahead, but from an implementation standpoint resource allocation in an emerging economy, with a service population of 1.2 billion, is in itself a big challenge, and that’s where technology comes in.