Philips Digital Healthcare Conclave 2017 #ConnectedCare In Focus by Sagay Mary, @hisagay

What if expensive, specialized patient monitoring systems in ICUs could be replaced with discreet sensors that transmitted all the vital health data directly to the doctors’ smartphones? What if the data could be analysed to deliver intelligible insights as well? Not only would it ensure better quality of care, it would also help bring down equipment and overhead costs for the hospital by eliminating expensive equipment and by even allowing patients to be cared for at home. The good news is that, this is not a hypothetical scenario but a real possibility as technology makes connected healthcare a reality.

The 2017 edition of the Philips Healthcare Conclave held on 28th July 2017 addressed the confluence of technology and healthcare and its significant impact on patient care, accessibility, and affordability. The conference shed light on why Connected Healthcare is the need of the hour for our country and how it can solve the existing healthcare problems. The conference was graced by the presence of industry stalwarts like Dr. Shalini Rajneesh, Principal Secretary Family and Health Welfare, Government of Karnataka and Dr. Pramod K. Varma, Chief Architect, Aadhaar. The speakers discussed how Connected Care and AI supported by UIDAI (Aadhaar) could help in addressing the challenges faced by the Indian Healthcare System. 

The discussion also highlighted The National Healthcare Policy 2017, which talks about how Connected Healthcare is the solution to the existing healthcare problems in India. The policy suggests the setting up of a National Digital Health Authority (NDHA) to regulate, develop and deploy digital health across the continuum of care using digital technologies. It highlights the role of Aadhaar to make connected healthcare a reality by establishing a seamless and efficient National Health Information Network. The panel also discussed how Philips has been at the forefront of using digital technology in healthcare. Its various connected care solutions have increased accessibility to care in remotest corners of the world, empowered patients to manage their health while also giving health providers tools to improve patient outcomes. With a mission to touch more than 3 billion lives by 2025, Philips is working towards creating meaningful innovations that will make Healthcare accessible to all.

Affordability, accessibility and the over-all ecosystem were in sharp focus through all the discussions during the day. All the speakers emphasized that a comprehensive overhaul of existing healthcare frameworks cannot happen in isolation; it requires a supportive ecosystem to be sustainable and scalable. The ecosystem ranges from primary health care centers and doctors to healthcare technology companies and start-ups. Most importantly, in a Connected Healthcare scenario, Internet networks and seamless connectivity are just as important as any directly medical element. The speakers almost unanimously agreed that a connected healthcare system in India needs both the private and public sectors to work in tandem.

The conference saw industry thought leaders emphasizing the current state of readiness for implementing connected care systems in India, as well the areas that need attention. Technology stacks like Aadhar are already in place, ready for both public and private enterprises to build comprehensive healthcare solutions on. At this juncture, it is important to focus on developing and empowering the macro ecosystem to work with digital systems. From education and awareness programs to data security protocols and legal frameworks, both government as well as the private sector needs to work together to ensure a robust and workable system.

 As with any major technology disruption, people are at the crux of the move to Connected Healthcare systems. The speakers stressed the fact that doctors will remain relevant even in the future tech enabled state of healthcare, and be empowered to better diagnose and treat their patients with the use of technology. The conference also highlighted the fact that ultimately, digital healthcare systems will go a long way in reducing costs. Currently, Karnataka alone spends more than Rs. 6000 crores to extend healthcare services to just 5 percent of its total population. Connected Healthcare systems have the potential to guarantee universal access to quality healthcare with seamless links between hospitals and people.  

Affordability, accessibility and adoption were hot topics within the healthcare sector even about 30 years ago. While they still remain in focus three decades later, now for the first time, there is a strong glimmer of hope, as technology makes it easier to find answers to these challenges. As the experts at the conclave pointed out, the world has just scratched the surface of Connected Healthcare, the possibilities are endless and future looks bright. 

Sagay Mary

Manager, Corporate Communications at Philips, Bangalore responsible for branding and communications

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