Era of partial replacement of doctors gaining impetus

Bio Spectrum|February 2020

Era of partial replacement of doctors gaining impetus
Technology is assisting healthcare providers to make phenomenal gains by improving outcome in treatments by accurate diagnosis and treatment of diseases. Experts say that technological advancement in healthcare like adoption of digital pathology is expected to be the topmost choice in the healthcare industry, as it has proven to reduce the workload of physicians and clinicians. Additionally, it has also resulted in squeezing down the patient’s expenses due to more systemic approach in health systems enabled by technological developments.
Jyoti Pandey

In 2019, the Indian government announced the shortage of doctors i.e. one doctor for 1,457 people, which is lower than the World Health Organisation (WHO) norms of 1:1000. In order to reach the recommended WHO doctor-patient ratio, India will need 2.3 million doctors by 2030. Nevertheless, the latest significant progress of the private health sector in India has come at a time when public spending on healthcare at 0.9 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

Privatization leads to a sharp rise in the health expenditure in arrears to the increased cost of medical tests and medical consultations. Inefficient healthcare infrastructure in India is another contributing factor that restraints accessible healthcare delivery. Synopsizing in a sentence lack of trained medical professionals, low income, and inadequate medical facilities and infrastructure are the major challenges faced for accessible healthcare delivery in India.

Dr. Chirat Bhoraj, CEO Tricog Health, Bengaluru says, “The healthcare system suffers from a lack of affordable, accessible (quality) care for all, medical expertise will remain a scare recourse in the near-term, magnifying the impact of doctor and making them superefficient is an attractive solution, aggregating data enabled by the judicious use of technology like Artificial Intelligence (AI) will help to achieve this”.

The concern over these challenges is now putting more emphasis on innovative strategies and is expected to be rescued by the growing adoption of technology. According to Future Health Index, India accounted for 76 percent in terms of the adoption of health technologies by healthcare professionals and patients in the year 2019.

The R&D in a healthcare setting is a crucial challenge for the healthcare providers, research organizations as well as the government, where technological development such as Artificial Intelligence is a major focus of interest. NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India), a policy think tank of the Government of India, has listed healthcare as one of the five major areas to focus on AI solution development. According to NITI Aayog's discussion paper on India’s AI strategy the major subject of interest in healthcare includes AI-driven diagnostics, personalized treatment, early identification of potential pandemics, imaging diagnostics, among others.

Research institutes and academics are making a pavement in the healthcare arena to accelerate technological advancements. For instance, in February 2019, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Indore developed Respir care which is an intelligent, low cost, and easy to use digital auscultation based diagnostic system for early diagnosis of lung diseases for patients residing in rural and remote areas and have limited access to medical facilities. The patient’s life-cycle management and better delivery of healthcare has attracted many stakeholders to invest in the same.

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February 2020