The healthcare industry has been growing at a rapid pace. If we talk about India, Healthcare Industry has registered a compound growth rate of 20% taking the past few years into account. It is expected to value as much as $175 Billion by 2020. It is very important to talk about how the medical devices industry and with it, the entire Healthcare industry is revolving.
In this article, we will be exploring the Healthcare Industry, diving deep into how it has transformed in the past years, what challenges it faces and what is the future of Healthcare.
It was in 2014 when the Medical Device industry was given the status of independent industry. Given its valuation at 2017 to be around $6 Billion, that accordance established the growth and development of the industry. For now, we are seeing the medical devices penetrating into the daily lives of consumers, it is clear how far the industry, along with the Healthcare industry has come.
How does technology help in the evolving healthcare industry?
Technology and the rapid developments and innovations that come with it have certainly helped in transforming multiple industries. Healthcare is one of them and arguably, the most important one. Looking at the innovations and the magnitude of convenience that several technologies have brought into the Healthcare industry, there is no doubt left in how Healthcare has faced a much rapid evolution in recent times.
1. Better and More Convenient Treatment
According to a number of analysts from the healthcare industry, healthcare has evolved into being much more convenient and accessible.
This is greatly due to how technology and medical devices have opened up new ways and paths to improve the existing healthcare systems and procedures.
2. Improved and More Efficient Patient Care
When you think of how technology has affected the entire patient care routine, it doesn’t come as a shock to us but it is a vast improvement that has made the entire process much more efficient.
Doctors and nurses now regularly make use of hand-held devices to keep records of patient data and simultaneously share it with them through a medical data sharing interface. The improved technology in the medical devices helps in generating faster and accurate test results which include tests of patient’s vital signs as well as other critical data.
All this data generated is also collected and stored in a manner that is easily accessible and that becomes very convenient for a patient. Apart from that, a humongous amount of such data can be analyzed for further research.
3. Improved Disease Control Mechanism
To begin with, we can take the example of the World Health Organization, who have been able to classify diseases along with their symptoms, causes and preventive measures into a humongous database. This makes general research, for doctors as well as for patients, much more accessible and convenient.
Technology plays a big role in this as smart software ensures proper tracking procedures and also involves billing-related information. This is a great help to the practitioners. Overall, such databases formed with the help of software result in improved quality and efficiency of the healthcare system.
Possible Future in Healthcare
If we study today’s landscape of healthcare and understand how rapidly things are growing and developing, there are certain circumstances that we can predict happening in the future of healthcare. Some companies talk about developing and improving existing technologies with a fresh take. Some talk about completely new inventions that could become possible as technology advances with passing time. Let’s talk about how some of these companies see the future of healthcare.
Blockchain for Healthcare
Ever since the blockchain for used at a huge level for the cryptocurrencies, all the companies are now aware of the advantages that blockchain brings with itself. The distributed database that blockchain brings into the picture can be used to improve the existing healthcare system.
Medicalchain is one such company that is trying to advance the blockchain perspective in the healthcare industry. According to the company, this technology will certainly empower patients. They have worked on this technology and developed a way to view their data and share it with their doctors, whenever necessary. You can understand their ideas and implementation techniques in a much clearer and broader way from this whitepaper.
2. Early Detection of Dementia
In today’s time and age, Alzheimer’s Disease, which is the most common form of Dementia, has caused disruptions in numerous families. In India, more than 4 Million people are said to have some form of Dementia. It is important that Dementia is diagnosed as early as possible. While it has been a challenge for the existing technologies, Oxford Brain Diagnostics is making an attempt to change that.
Oxford Brain Diagnostics works revolve around Cortical Disarray Measurement (CDM). This technique makes it possible for the doctors to get a certain “extra level of detail” from the MRI scans. This, in turn, allows them to detect the microanatomy changes of the brain. The team at Oxford Brain Diagnostics believe that CDM can detect Dementia even years before symptoms of Dementia become properly apparent.
3. Making Breathing Easier
For people suffering from breathing problems such as COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), Asthma or Emphysema, even breathing is a rigorous activity. While there are existing devices that can act as some form of relief, it has always been apparent that there is a room for improvement.
Enters Soemac, a product that is aimed at making breathing easier. It is a small rectangular device that on first look just looks like is whirring. You simply turn it on and leave it on your bedside. What it actually does according to the team behind Soemac is, it works on the oxygen around the device and in a way, energizes it into a form of oxygen which is easier to breathe in. According to the team, this device draws in the air and in turn produces a bio-usable form of an energized oxygen which they call Singlet Oxygen Energy.
While the device is already on sale, it is important to note that no clinical trials have been held to back up these claims but the team ensures they are on that path. This technology and the way it is aiming to help people with not only breathing problems but also people suffering from sleeping problems, fatigue and pain certainly deserve a mention.
4. Transforming Cervical Cancer Screening Methods
Taking in data from 2018, around 570,000 new cases of Cervical Cancer reported in a single year. It has become apparent that better screening methods and earlier diagnosis can significantly reduce the rate of death caused by Cervical Cancer.
Here we have MobileODT, a company who has designed a hand-held battery powered colposcope which they’re calling EVA System. This device can take high-quality images of the cervix. This image is then processed using a machine learning algorithm being called Automatic Visual Evaluation (AVE). Using this, an accurate diagnosis can be produced in minutes.
A device that is so user-friendly, convenient and as studies conducted by scientists in Korea suggest, 90% accurate, is a complete game changer. The team worked with the National Cancer Institute to develop the device and have already gained FDA clearance for it.
Going Furthermore into Future
The Future is Here branch of The Economist worked with a panel of experts in various fields of healthcare and from across the globe to predict the technologies that may develop in the future and innovations that can take place. Here is an interesting infographic that they came up with that ensures the rapid development of the healthcare sector will catch even more speed in the near term as well as long term future.
Potential Challenges of the Future
The major roadblock for the healthcare industry is the ever-growing population. If we look at certain stats that were collected in 2017, we will be alarmed at how paralyzed our healthcare industry is when it comes to factors like availability and affordability.
If we talk about India specifically, India currently is the world’s second most populous country. It is being estimated that at the rate India’s population is growing, India will surpass China as the most populous country by the year 2024. The government hospitals are understaffed as well as under-financed which force patients to go for the private doctors and hospitals which are much more expensive and accessible only to the majority of the population. With such alarming statistics in the year 2017, there needs to be much more attention to be paid towards the healthcare industry given how quickly the population is increasing.
If we compare the government’s per capita healthcare expenditures to other governments around the world, we will see that India has one of the lowest per capita healthcare expenditures. Indian Government’s contribution to insurance is calculated to be roughly around 32%. We can get an idea of where this stands by comparing it to the UK Government’s contribution which is around 83.5%. At least 76% of Indians do not have health insurance.
3. Clinical Guidelines for Medical Apps and Devices
The major MedTech devices have to go through a plethora of government guidelines, check-ups and other hurdles before being able to push themselves out to the consumers. While the MedTech devices under the supervision of trusted professionals and doctors can be assured proper usage, there need to be certain clinical guidelines for safe and proper use of medical or health-related apps as well as medical devices like sensors and trackers.
Not only is it important to develop and follow guidelines during the development of such devices, but it is also necessary to use them in a way they are most safe.
4. Ensure Greater Connectivity
While we have more and more medical devices entering the market, we are still lacking in one major aspect that is of connectivity. A big problem we’re facing in current times is the lack of proper and quick connectivity between the medical devices.
The main challenge is to implement Interoperability between the devices. Interoperability refers to the continuous exchange of data between systems and devices followed by interpretation of that data. Integration of new technologies is necessary for this development.
Thinking of the Solutions
All the challenges that we have discussed above need proper cooperation from the Government and the IT sector to work through. We can see that the Indian Government in their Union Budget of the year 2017-18 increased the Health Budget to 27%. Preparations of various programmes for the rural areas is also necessary from the Government’s part.
The IT sector will play a huge role in developing these solutions. Hospitals being involved in Government schemes must be IT enables and digital. Usage of facilities like Smart Cards can add a layer of convenience to the overall process.
It is necessary to reach a large population and then to continuously evolve and work on the betterment of services. We have seen launches of several digital applications and websites focusing on the betterment of health. ANMOL Online is an application made for health workers. We also have e-RaktKosh which is a centralized blood bank management systems.
To ensure proper developments and evolution of the healthcare industry, it is necessary for all the stakeholders to come together and support this initiative. There are several health problems that can still be tackled before they become rather dangerous for the country and it’s necessary to make use of the opportunity and tackle them at the right time.
I hope you take away ample of knowledge from this article about the Healthcare Industry. We all need to be aware of the insides of the Healthcare Industry and how certain factors are enabling it to evolve continuously. Of course, there are plenty of challenges ahead, but with correct intent and execution, we all can aim for correct handling and tackling of those challenges. The future of healthcare looks bright.
Subscribe to our newsletter to get curated in-depth contents like this directly to your inbox.