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Digital Health Summit 2023

  • 18 Apr 2023
  • 7 min read

For Prelims: Digital Health Summit 2023, 3D Printing, Fourth Industrial Revolution, Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY), CoWIN App, Ransomware Attack, Blockchain Technology.

For Mains: Issues Related to Digital Healthcare in India, Key Government Initiatives Related to Digital Health.

Why in News?

Recently, Digital Health Summit 2023 was organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in Goa.

  • CII is a non-government, not-for-profit, industry-led and industry-managed organization.

What are the Major Highlights of Digital Health Summit 2023?

  • It highlighted the importance of digital health innovations and how they can empower exponential medicine, including 3D printing, point-of-care diagnostics, robots, bioinformatics, and genomics.
  • It aims to create a digital public goods framework to promote standards for interoperability, data privacy, and data security.
  • It emphasised the need for "citizen-centric" digital health systems with equitable access to high-quality treatments.
    • It also highlighted that health-tech is the most significant aspect of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and taking pre-emptive steps remains the key.

What is Digital Healthcare?

  • About:
    • Digital healthcare is a system of medical care delivery that uses an array of digital technologies to make quality medical care services accessible, affordable, and sustainable.
    • The broad scope of digital health includes categories such as mobile health (mHealth), health information technology (IT), wearable devices, telehealth and telemedicine, and personalized medicine.
    • The WHO Global Strategy on Digital Health, adopted in 2020 by the World Health Assembly, presents a roadmap to link the latest developments in innovation and digital health, and put these tools to action in order to improve health outcomes.
  • Major Applications:
    • Point-of-Care Diagnostics: Point-of-care Diagnostics (“POCD”) is an emerging trend in the medical device industry and encompasses a broad range of products which enables accurate diagnostics in resource limited setting by patients themselves or healthcare practitioners.
      • In the recent past multiple applications such as biosensors, portable x rays, handheld ultrasounds and smartphone based POCD have been developed.
    • Medical Virtual Assistants: Virtual health assistants and chatbots bridge the gap between patients and physicians and tend to the needs of the patients in between physical appointments through services such as appointment scheduling, maintain health records and other administrative tasks.
    • Self-Monitoring Healthcare Devices: Monitors and sensors are now being integrated into wearables, which allow it to detect various physiological changes in the body.
      • These smart devices are capable of tracking weight, sleep patterns, posture, diet and exercise.
    • e-Pharmacies: An e-pharmacy is a pharmacy that operates over the internet and fulfils the orders through mail, courier or delivery persons
  • Benefits of Digital Healthcare:
    • Telemedicine has played a pivotal role in the decentralisation of healthcare and ensuring access to remote and advanced care.
    • Patients in rural and remote areas can now access affordable and quality healthcare through online consultation and home delivery of medicines.
    • Digital tools can provide healthcare providers with an extensive view of patient health by increasing access to health data.

What are the Challenges Related to Digital Healthcare in India?

  • About:
    • Driven by the Covid-19 pandemic, India has adopted digital health at a breathtaking pace. The unprecedented health crisis paved the way for the adoption of telemedicine and thus proved to be a dawn of remote and patient-centric care in India.
  • Challenges:
    • Absence of Clear Regulation: The absence of clear regulations and guidelines may lead to fraudulent practices, misuse of digital prescriptions, data theft, and misuse of electronic health records.
      • Also, the lack of digital infrastructure and skilled professionals is another roadblock to the digitalization of the healthcare system in India.
    • Data Privacy and Cybersecurity: Ensuring data privacy and cybersecurity is crucial to maintain patient trust in digital healthcare. Lack of security measures can lead to data breaches and compromise patient data.
    • No Statutory Backing to E-pharmacy: The Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 regulates the import, manufacturing and distribution of drugs in India.
      • However, there is no statutory definition of “e-pharmacy” either under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 or the Pharmacy Act, 1948.
  • Government Initiatives Related to Digital Health:

What are the WHO's Objectives for Promoting Digital Health and Innovation?

  • Translating data, research, and evidence into action through standards for interoperability and data sharing and supporting implementation of digital solutions for informed decision making.
  • Enhancing knowledge through scientific communities of practice facilitated by new technologies, enabling expert voices to come together around clinical and public health topics.
  • Systematically assessing and linking country needs with supply of innovations, taking a proactive approach to identify, promote, co-develop, and scale innovations based on country needs.

Way Forward

  • AI Powered Healthcare: Artificial intelligence (AI) is being increasingly used in healthcare to analyze large amounts of data, make diagnoses, and predict health outcomes.
    • This technology has the potential to improve the accuracy and speed of healthcare delivery, while also reducing costs.
  • Blockchain in Healthcare: Blockchain technology can help improve the security and privacy of health data, as well as streamline healthcare processes.
    • By providing a secure and transparent way to store and share information, blockchain can help reduce errors, fraud, and administrative costs.
  • Mobile Health (mHealth): mHealth involves the use of mobile devices and apps to deliver healthcare services remotely.
    • This can be especially useful in rural areas, where access to healthcare is limited. mHealth can also help patients manage chronic conditions and communicate with healthcare providers more easily.

Source: PIB

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