Mr. Chander Shekhar Sibal is the Executive Vice President of the Medical Division at Fujifilm India. In his current role, he is responsible for driving business growth and innovation in the medical sector at Fujifilm India. With close to three decades of experience, Mr. Chander is a proven leader in the healthcare industry who has successfully translated the medical business strategies into sustainable ventures. He has been responsible for analyzing market trends in medical device sector and establishing a robust network of professionals to respond to patient needs for company’s flagship product.
First, we discovered fire, then came the wheel, and as humans evolved, we invented the means to improve our lives and those living around us. With this will to create value, humanity progressed and brought innovations to solve problems of daily lives. Technology is one key aspect that has revolutionized industries across nations. While we have seen the impact of technology in other traditional industries, the healthcare ecosystem has slightly been on the slow pace in digital transformation. And this void in the adoption of digitization was exposed in the open owing to the pandemic.
It is often said that major global happenings, such as the ongoing pandemic, create an opportunity for everyone to bring a positive change. In the case of the healthcare industry, this positive change will be digitization. The healthcare sector is going through a major paradigm shift, evolving from a human-driven and moving towards a technology-enabled digital-first sector. Starting from the way doctors and patients are interacting, to the way instant at-home test kits, saving you the time to go to a laboratory. In the post-Covid world, the healthcare landscape will continue evolving technologically at a rapid pace, and work towards creating better infrastructure for its overall functioning. In the coming time, blockchains, digitization, teleconsultation, and teleradiology will soon become the basic building blocks of the healthcare system.
A series of challenges like the absence of access to decent medical diagnostic centres and medical care, scarcity of radiologists and limited field experts, has increased the burden on healthcare workers. But with the ongoing technology revolution, the healthcare technologies equipped with AI, IoT, and ML are helping reduce the burden of the healthcare workers. With such technological innovations and transformations in the healthcare system, the nation will be able to combat the prevalence of any disease, virus or illness. This intervention of digitization in the healthcare industry is allowing doctors to not only perform more effectively and efficiently but also offer precise and accurate diagnoses in lesser time.
Another major challenge to all these technological innovations that are coming up, is their adoption by the entire ecosystem of the healthcare industry, from manufacturer to the end consumer. Digitization in healthcare is not just limited to the primary medicinal and treatment sector. An industry can only be successful and effective if its supporting businesses are digitised too. Fortunately, many positive trends are coming up in the healthcare industry. Another area where digitization is winning the market and masses is Consumer Healthtech. Smartphones as well as wearables are equipped with plenty of sensors ranging from accelerometers and microphones to GPS sensors and gyroscopes, enabling the recording of longitudinal, real-time health information such as blood pressure levels, varied sleeping patterns, calorie burner and heart rate from vast number of people. The increasing use of fitness bands or smartwatches to monitor heart rate and other wearable tech has reduced so much cost for the consumer.
Adoption of technology also has a lot to do with government support. As the government recognises the importance of digitization and its scope, a lot can be achieved in a short period. Thanks to their farsightedness and preparedness, the Indian government has been leading the effort. Even much before Covid-19 had hit the country, the Indian government realised the power of telemedicine and established the National Telemedicine Taskforce in the year 2005. Due to early cellular and internet penetration, the concept of telemedicine was well understood in urban India. With the pandemic forcing people to be confined to their houses, telemedicine became a fall-back option for patients even in the corners of the country. Going one step further, right after the first wave of infections, the Health ministry initiated the National Digital Health Mission to create a national digital health ecosystem that supports universal health coverage in an accessible, affordable, efficient, inclusive, safe and timely manner. The system also provides a wide range of data, information and infrastructure services. Keeping this in mind, all major players globally have started creating a database for their citizens with regards to health.
While it might be a concern for people to share their health data with the government, a lot of private players have started to take up the charge of spearheading this digitization in healthcare. There are apps nowadays which keep a track of medical records, doctor visits and based on all this data, help the consumer take better care of their health and give suggestions to improve the same. And all this is only done after taking your consent, giving you control of your data and its sharing use. As people are starting to take their health seriously more than ever, they understand the importance of good immunity and excellent health which is a key to success and safety.
This increasing consumer awareness and demand has boosted the spectrum of innovative machines used in the medical industry and laid down the building block for a digitized healthcare. Skilling our primary healthcare workers with the new technologies would further enhance the efficiency of the industry as a whole resulting in a much healthier environment. But we can’t be completely dependent on the government for bringing about all these changes in practice. A lot of this has to do with businesses and finances as well. Public-private partnerships in diagnostic as well as cancer care, renal areas need to focus at becoming relevant and giving an overall boost to the health infrastructure, enabling the industry to reach the last man living at the last mile.
The world has for centuries witnessed a traditional form of the healthcare system, however, to bring a change in the industry and increase its acceptance we need to take all the stakeholders on-board and work together. There can’t be any confusion or delay anymore. After all, digitization is the future and the building block of our new and advanced healthcare system.