Digital Health for All : Trends 2016-2020


“Digital Health” term seems to create a buzz in every healthcare forum or conference today. Why not? If “Health for All” needs to be a reality as envisioned by World Health Organization (way back in 1981!) – now is the best time to make it happen, and it can be possible ONLY if Technology + Digital revolution are integrated with today’s healthcare delivery model

By 2020, about 78 million customers across the globe are going to use home health technologies, and most healthcare providers/models are working hard to adopt to the new way healthcare is going to be delivered – basically, driven by the patient or end-user and his preference of the medium! Gone are the days when a doctor-patient interaction would happen only face-to-face, waiting in long queues and at the mercy of the clinic, hospital or provider.

Remember – just a decade ago, you had to visit the bank physically to deposit cash, withdraw money, take a loan – or in fact to do any financial transaction! Now, just pause and ask yourself – when was the last time you visited the bank physically?

Healthcare has always been a laggard compared to other industries with respect to adoption of technology or digital revolution and India – specifically, is known to be slow to catch up with new trends but leap frog once any idea/concept takes main stream acceptance.

Please find below some of the unique trends which is going to change the way healthcare is delivered in 3-5 years from now and how each of the trend is going to impact the key stakeholders in the healthcare delivery value chain:

1. The Non Communicable Disease burden (India specific statistics only) for the major diseases/new cases per year looks something close to – Cardiac Disorders (50 million), Diabetes (63 million), Cancers (1.2 million), Stroke (1 million) and Renal Transplants (0.2 million) which translates to loss to the exchequer to the tune of about 23,000 Crore INR in a decade!!!

2. 45% of the population travels close to 100 kms to access higher level of care (India specific) – examples of just 5 broad categories combined gives us a rough idea of approximately the phenomenal impact that Digital Health or Telemedicine can bring about

  • 125 million Indians (or 1/10th of India population) will travel about 100 km each!!! (and in most above conditions a relative or dependent will accompany the patient)
  • Most of these conditions will need frequent visits to see the specialist in a good tertiary care hospital
  • Hypothetically – if we can avoid even 1 follow-up or physical visit for each patient in a year the indirect cost saving would be something like INR 3750 Crores ($ 600 million – assumptions cost of travel for each km being INR 2-3 = travel reimbursement for two wheeler courtesy HR friend!) Now imagine the direct benefits?

3. Virtual Consultations are set to increase from current 25-30 million to 160-200 million by 2020 (Global) and there are around 100k healthcare applications available for download!

4. Most recent surveys done indicate that 60-70% (Global) of the consumers are ready to explore or have tried accessing digital healthcare services – be it virtual consultations, apps, or remote services connecting patients to physicians, providers or connected ecosystem

5. While 70-80% of India’s healthcare staffing and services being concentrated at the top 20 cities and the perpetual healthcare staffing shortage or policies directed to solve these challenges still being a distant dream – technology + digital adoption is going to be the biggest enabler to ensure “Health for All”

6. Most western studies have indicated that secure, stable video and internet connectivity result in better outcomes as well – 35% lesser hospital admissions, 53% reduced admission to emergency services and close to 60% reduction in hospital stay duration. In India – lack of data is the biggest challenge, however internet connectivity + stable bandwidth + well thought out policies to ensure seamless interoperability between private, public healthcare facilities could ensure that the impact could be much larger than the western counterparts

7. If the traditional adoption barriers from physicians, providers can be addressed by proper training and show casing real-life case studies – the day is not far when “Health for All” will be a reality and India can leap frog and show the path to the world!

The future of the healthcare delivery will not happen ONLY in closed rooms of physicians or providers (hospitals) – however, it will be based on the choice of the patients, be it at home, on smart phone, on the move, enabled by the latest technology and digital revolution starting from the finger tips of the end user!


If you are a physician working in a remote primary healthcare center (PHC) or a private hospital in a urban set up, or you are a specialist from a secondary tertiary care hospital, nursing assistant passionate about being part of the Digital Health Revolution in India write to me and we would love to hear from you!

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