Health care in India faces several challenges including inadequate access, low insurance penetration and a growing chronic disease burden. At the same time, traditional business models have found it hard to show attractive returns on investment, except for a few large providers. Technology infusion — along with expanded infrastructure and efficiencies from process improvements — could help improve health care accessibility and affordability.
Despite its shortcomings, India’s health care sector has a lot going for it on several fronts. A government-led push to get health care providers to embrace electronic medical records is enabling artificial intelligence (AI) to extract insights from patient data to deliver better treatment. The availability of telecom bandwidth is making medical expertise reach underserved rural markets through telemedicine and tele-consulting programs, delivered over mobile phones.
The Indian government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative is encouraging domestic manufacture of medical devices and helping lower the prices patients pay for products such as stents and implants, which in the past were imported. At the same time, in India the policy environment and regulators need to accommodate technological interventions such as the growth of online pharmacies with the requisite controls in place, according to the panelists. Health care innovation in India could serve as a global model for a shift from treating the sick to preventive care and wellness, given the size of its underserved populations, they said.