Role of disruptive technologies in improving the health sector

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Synopsis: Application of future Digital technologies in the health sector can lead to accessible, affordable, and quality health care. Further, it can reduce human involvement in risky functions.

  • Human involvement in diagnosis, treatment, and hospital care of infected patients puts them at greater risk of contracting the disease. For instance, many frontline warriors fighting COVID-19 have lost their lives.
  • In this context, technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), autonomous systems, blockchain, cloud and quantum computing, data analytics, 5G can help in addressing the issue.
  • The new technologies can improve the welfare of societies and reduce the impact of communicable diseases. Further, it can reduce the chances of hospital staff contracting the infection.

Recent developments regarding the use of disruptive technologies for hospital care

  1. One, according to global media reports, some established innovative field hospitals are using robots to care for COVID-19 affected patients.
  2. Two, hospitals in China, are using 5G-powered temperature measurement devices at the entrance to flag patients who have fever-like symptoms.
  3. Three, some robots are being used to measure heart rates and blood oxygen levels through smart bracelets.
  4. Four, In India too, the Sawai Man Singh government hospital in Jaipur held trials with a humanoid robot to deliver medicines and food to hospitalized COVID-19 patients
How new technologies can improve the hospital ecosystem?
  • One, Blockchain technology can help in addressing the interoperability challenges that health information and technology systems face.
    • The health blockchain will contain a complete indexed history of all medical data, including formal medical records and health data. Data will be sourced from mobile applications and wearable sensors. This will help in seamless medical attention.
    • Further, it allows for storing of data in a secured and authenticated network. Thereby, it will prevent erosion of Individuals’ privacy and ensure data security.
  • Two, Big data analytics can help improve patient-based services such as early disease detection.
  • Three, AI and the Internet of Medical Things, or IoMT can support medical care delivery in dispersed and complex environments through Medical autonomous systems.
  • Four, Cloud computing can facilitate collaboration and data exchanges between doctors, departments, and even institutions and medical providers. It will enable the best treatment.

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How Digital technologies can be utilized to achieve “Universal health coverage” in India?

  1. India needs to own its digital health strategy that works and leads towards universal health coverage and person-centered care.
  2. India’s digital health strategy should emphasize the ethical appropriateness of digital technologies, across the digital divide, and ensure inclusion across the economy.
  3. Online consultation through video conferencing should be made a key part of India’s digital health strategy.
  4. Moreover, digital health strategy should  utilise available local knowledge. Primary health centres in India should examine traditional knowledge and experience and then use it along with modern technology.
    • There are many instances where traditional knowledge has been utilised for preventing diseases.
    • For example, in Indonesia, where the experience of backyard poultry farmers was used to tackle bird flu.
    • Another example is the Ebola virus outbreak in Africa, where communities proactively helped curtail the spread much before government health teams arrived.
Challenges in developing Digital health strategy
  • Standardisation of health data,
  • Information sharing between Organisations
  • Data security and data privacy, and
  • High investments.

India’s efforts in this direction should involve synchronization and integration, developing a template for sharing data, and reengineering many of the institutional and structural arrangements in the medical sector.

Source: The Hindu

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