Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

A place for disruptive technology in India’s health sector

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Use of disruptive technologies in medical sector

The adoption of technologies such as AI and blockchain has the potential to transform the medical sector. 

How new technologies can play important role in medical sector

1) Blockchain technology

  • Blockchain technology can help in addressing the interoperability challenges that health information and technology systems face.
  • The health blockchain would contain a complete indexed history of all medical data, including formal medical records and health data from mobile applications and wearable sensors.
  • This can also be stored in a secure network and authenticated, besides helping in seamless medical attention.

2) Big data analytics

  • Big data analytics can help improve patient-based services tremendously such as early disease detection.
  • AI and the Internet of Medical Things, or IoMT are shaping healthcare applications.
  • IoMT is defined as a connected infrastructure of medical devices, software applications, and health systems and services.

3) Medical autonomous system

  • Medical autonomous systems can also improve health delivery to a great extent and their applications are focused on supporting medical care delivery in dispersed and complex environments with the help of futuristic technologies.
  • This system may also include autonomous critical care system, autonomous intubation, autonomous cricothyrotomy and other autonomous interventional procedures.

4) Cloud computing

  • Cloud computing is another application facilitating collaboration and data exchanges between doctors, departments, and even institutions and medical providers to enable best treatment.

Challenges

  • The possible constraints in this effort are standardisation of health data, organisational silos, data security and data privacy, and also high investments.

Using technology for Universal Health Coverage

  • According to the World Health Organization, Universal health coverage (UHC) is a powerful social equalizer and the ultimate expression of fairness.
  • Studies by WHO show that weakly coordinated steps may lead to stand-alone information and communication technology solutions.
  • India needs to own its digital health strategy that works and leads towards universal health coverage and person-centred care.
  • Such a strategy should emphasise the ethical appropriateness of digital technologies, cross the digital divide, and ensure inclusion across the economy.
  • ‘Ayushman Bharat’ and tools such as Information and Communication Technology could be be fine-tuned with this strategy to promote ways to protect populations.
  • Online consultation should be a key part of such a strategy.

Using local knowledge

  • In addition to effective national policies and robust health systems, an effective national response must also draw upon local knowledge.
  • Primary health centres in India could examine local/traditional knowledge and experience and then use it along with modern technology.

Way forward

  • Initial efforts in this direction should involve synchronisation and integration, developing a template for sharing data, and reengineering many of the institutional and structural arrangements in the medical sector.
  • Big data applications in the health sector should help hospitals provide the best facilities and at less cost, provide a level playing field for all sectors, and foster competition.

Consider the question “Examine the role technologies such as AI and data analytics could play in the medical sector. What are the challenges in the adoption of such technologies?”

Conclusion

The above-discussed aspects highlight the potential benefits of the adoption of disruptive technologies in the healthcare system. India should embrace it while addressing the concerns with such technologies.

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