The future of Healthcare is Digital
Probing the current issues in the healthcare sector and possible solutions that will drive the sector in the long term
I wouldn’t be surprised if someone says the future belongs to the digital world. But when it comes to healthcare, I can see how the existing issues are targetted by the internet & digital gadgets to revolutionize the entire sector. The healthcare that you know is shifting from a non-digital to a fully digital domain and this article explores the shifts that the industry is experiencing.
Demand Vs Supply
Like every other industry, the supply of healthcare services is also short as compared to the global demand. Even more disturbing is the fact that the services are unevenly distributed. This affects the earning of healthcare professionals and creates a disturbance in smooth healthcare adaptation to society.
Unlike other sectors, the demand in healthcare cannot be predicted by mathematical models and statistics alone. They need sensors and real-time data. Also, the needs are generally always urgent, and thus waiting is not a sustainable option for the industry.
There are two major needs of the industry:
- Healthcare professionals
- Healthcare products
The addition of healthcare professionals requires huge time & effort. 4–5 years of education followed by 5–10 years of on-site training is required by an average healthcare professional and thus this is the part where no short-term solution can be provided to fix the issues.
The second need of “Healthcare products” can be provided by targetting the supply needs and setting up manufacturing facilities. But in the event of non-availability of the right demands, the manufacturing facilities have to bear the high cost of research and long waiting times. This pushes the cost of products on a higher side which cannot be afforded by a large majority of the population.
How digitization is shifting the industry?
Prediction of healthcare needs
The addition of sensors (such as Blood pressure, heart health, SpO2, chemical sensors, machine vision) can accurately identify the upcoming medical issues. This creates a large pool of datasets that is reliable and can generate demand.
More and more people are using health sensors. Roads, factories, parks, schools, etc. are being fixed with chemical, thermal, health sensors and machine vision powered CCTVs to track the population in real-time. This creates an accurate health metric of the existing population.
The predicted health metrics can be used by the organizations to subscribe to necessary medical services. The demands can be used by governments to add new courses in educational institutions, order new equipment, and train new professionals directly depending on the need.
Distribution of healthcare services
Distribution is simply a game of mathematics if the demands are known. But that is true for other industries. In healthcare, distribution is impacted by timings. Thus, the integration of services to the internet is the only sustainable solution.
The availability of products, doctors, and other services on the internet empowers patients to make informed decisions. It eliminates the life lost due to data unavailability and creates a chance of utilizing resources to their maximum level.
E.g. Hospitals and medical care centers are using the usage data of medical equipment of the buildings and scheduling the equipment in real-time. It creates profitability for the business and a single piece of equipment can save more lives.
Adding Robots to the existing pool of healthcare professionals
While a Robot is no substitute for a human being but in absence of trained healthcare professionals, the sensors, robots and other digital tools are really helpful.
Machine vision systems are helping doctors and nurses to monitor high-risk patients without any 24*7 manual presence.
AI & Machine vision systems are helping doctors diagnose ailments in a more accurate manner. The availability of drugs, issues on a certain group, and effectiveness on a certain condition are also predicted by the collected data on existing patients.
In the past few months, robots have been used to transport medicine and other supplies to highly contagious patients thus limiting/ reducing direct contact of the healthcare professional to these patients.
Integrating the financial industry in healthcare
The insurance and banking industry has already adopted the digital wave and this creates enables patients to buy health insurance online. The availability of a list of hospitals, small premiums comparable with benefits offered by the insurance is promoting the public to buy insurance.
People can take loans easily via their phones with the prescription offered by the hospital and thus avail services and pay later. This is enabling a large population that did not have access to the insurance.
Lastly, there is a strategic shift going on in the healthcare services with the industry moving towards subscription model. We will cover that in our next articles.