The Indian healthcare
landscape is a curious phenomenon. On one hand, the country is establishing itself as ‘the’ destination for medical tourism on the global map, attracting patients from countries like Bangladesh, Afghanistan, the UK, the US, Russia, and the Gulf countries for its high-quality yet comparatively affordable healthcare
services. The Indian healthcare
industry, as a result, has been earmarked for exponential growth; currently valued at $ 100 billion, the sector is expected to be worth $ 280 billion by the end of this decade.
The other hand, however, paints a completely different picture. A major portion of the healthcare
infrastructure in India is mainly restricted to urban geographies, with little or no healthcare
amenities available to the rural populace. The per capita healthcare
expenditure in the country is in the region of $ 60, a number abysmally low when compared to the healthcare
spending of other developing economies; China is estimated to spend around $ 300 per person on healthcare, while the corresponding number for Brazil stands at a whopping $ 1000. What further complicates the situation is the ratio of healthcare
providers to the country’s population. The Medical Council of India (MCI) estimates there is, at present, one doctor for every 1,674 patients in India, with industry experts arguing that the actual ratio might actually be upwards of 1:2,000. This is where state-of-the-art control room solutions step into the fray.
Consider a situation which is all-too-familiar in the Indian healthcare
landscape: a resident doctor in charge of a hospital’s ICU during the night shift is presented with an emergency case which has just been brought in. Since there are no senior doctors
available in the vicinity, the resident doctor has to abdicate his ICU charge to junior doctors
to attend to the emergency case. In such a scenario, if the condition of any patient in the ICU starts to worsen, the resident has to juggle between the two cases. Not only does this increase the doctor’s workload but also significantly raises the risk of a medical complication due to human error.
The kind of difference that connected control room technology can make in this context is extremely vital. With everything from the illness and medication history to vital stats and current condition of the ICU patient available in real-time on a digital display in the emergency room, the same resident doctor can analyse and communicate the most viable course of intervention to junior doctors
in the ICU. This not only improves the medical response speed - always a critical factor in healthcare
- but also reduces the scope of human error. The improvement in caregiver efficiency also helps in reducing the workload on doctors
across the country; it is widely documented that most resident doctors
in India end up working shifts anywhere between 36 and 48 hours on average.
Rajiv Bhalla, MD, Barco Electronic Systems
Another possible scenario where networked control room solutions play a major role is improving healthcare
accessibility and delivery across the country. Bringing the rural healthcare
infrastructure at par with its urban counterpart will take time, during which measures can be implemented to ensure that basic amenities are in place as first point-of-contact for rural geographies.
For example, state governments can create multiple clusters comprising 20-100 villages, depending upon the population density, and have them all overseen by a single regional control room manned by a team of trained operators and medical experts. Complicated medical cases can be referred to the central control room by the local medical centre for a detailed evaluation, saving end-consumers both time and money it would otherwise take to travel to a nearby city and get an accurate diagnosis. Different nodes within the same cluster can also be developed for different specialisations, allowing for the creation of localised medical ecosystems under a single regional control room. Efficiency of healthcare
providers will improve as a result, as will the standard of living and accessibility to high-quality medical amenities for Indians.
With patient-centrism emerging as one of the key watchwords for the healthcare
sector in recent times, there is a push for smarter systems which can address the demand-supply gap for healthcare
services in India. With unparalleled efficiency and accessibility of healthcare
delivery enabled through cutting-edge technology, networked control room solutions provide the most feasible solution for addressing this challenge. There is a massive opportunity of disruption here - all that remains is for stakeholders in the country’s healthcare
sector to realise it.
Rajiv Bhalla is the managing director of Barco Electronic Systems