Royal Philips has published its latest Future Health Index 2021 report that explores how healthcare leaders are confronting the present challenges of the pandemic and where their current and future priorities lie.
The findings from India revealed an imminent shift toward prioritising remote care, adopting digital health technologies and implementing sustainable healthcare practices. Leaders unanimously believed that the country’s policies and plans contribute to building a resilient healthcare system.
The report, which was in its sixth edition, surveyed almost 3,000 healthcare leaders across 14 countries from December 2020 to February 2021. From India, there were 200 participants.
India most recently faced an overwhelming second wave of COVID-19 infections. Reflecting on this, 75% of Indian respondents regarded the shift to remote or virtual care as a top priority. However, over a quarter of them admitted they are being challenged by infrastructure limitations, such as slow internet and connectivity issues.
The report revealed that one in five of the respondents are presently pivoting towards value-based care, while 73% are sketching their path to it.
The digital transformation of the Indian health system is hinged on a three-step approach, the study found. It includes investing in telehealth in the short term to ensure access to care; future investment in AI to drive operational efficiencies; and partnerships with other healthcare providers to facilitate the use of those technologies.
Nearly eight in 10 respondents said they are heavily investing in telehealth at present. About 94% of them said their health centres are most likely to invest in AI technologies soon; they are keen on harnessing AI to optimise operations, integrate diagnostics and predict patient outcomes.
In going digital, 41% of the respondents said they wanted to collaborate with private hospitals and healthcare facilities.
When asked about what keeps them from adopting telehealth and AI technologies, most said they face difficulties with data management (65%) and the lack of interoperability across technological systems (55%). These barriers, according to the report, “risk delaying the adoption of digital healthcare technologies that could alleviate pressure on healthcare professionals’ workloads and improve access to care”.
While many are not yet concerned about their sustainability practices, there is a growing recognition of healthcare’s role in improving environmental sustainability. The report found that enforcing sustainability practices is set to become one of the top priorities of healthcare leaders over the next three years.
THE LARGER TREND
There has been a noticeable uptick in the number of telemedicine platforms and services being launched around India lately. Just last week, New York-based Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center opened a satellite office in the country to offer virtual services for cancer patients. Medical travel firm MediGence and telehealth company PyraMed introduced their telemedicine portals last month.
ON THE RECORD
“The COVID-19 pandemic posed a significant challenge on the Indian healthcare system given the rapid surge in patient volumes. At the same time, it also provided [the] impetus to the adoption of virtual care delivery in the country, thereby enhancing [access] to care,” said Rohit Sathe, VP for Health Systems at Philips India.
“We realise that not only is digital the future for healthcare in India, but Indian healthcare providers are rapidly adopting strategies to onboard digital technologies in their organisations,” he added.