The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of technology across the country. As a result, telehealth has emerged as one of the top focus areas for the Indian healthcare professionals and leaders.
Ziqitza Healthcare Ltd, one of India’s leading healthcare services providers points out that telehealth improved and enhanced the accessibility of treatment and care for rural areas during the pandemic. This has resulted in an overwhelming support amidst the healthcare leaders for the adoption of remote care solutions. As per media reports, around 33 percent of the Indian healthcare leaders consider telehealth as a key priority area, and 51 percent of the leaders think of it as a top investment area during the current times.
Increased adoption of telehealth has also resulted in accelerated growth of digital health records (DHR). Ziqitza states that DHR is the foundation stone for delivering virtual care. The increased focus on DHR is easily reflected in the government’s investment priorities. Almost 50% of Indian healthcare leaders are in favour of accelerated adoption of remote health care and cite digital health records as an integral part of it.
Ziqitza Healthcare states that for the country to witness large-scale adoption of virtual care, it must focus on the integration of data and predictive analysis which will enhance utilisation of digital healthcare resources. While saying so, Ziqitza Rajasthan also points out that the majority of healthcare facilities face infrastructural challenges. However, despite these challenges efforts are being made to enhance data utilisation in such facilities. The knowledge and proficiency level of the hospital employees is being improved upon through various initiatives. It must be noted that while hospitals might have the knowledge required to analyse data, they lack in skill- thus reverberating a need for skill development and improvement.
Ziqitza Limited points out a report titled, ‘Healthcare hits reset: Priorities shift as healthcare leaders navigate a changed world’ created by Phillips, telehealth and artificial intelligence has emerged as key priorities for the Indian healthcare leaders. Apart from telehealth and artificial intelligence, healthcare leaders are also focused at staff satisfaction, extending care beyond hospital walls, improving affordability and accessibility of care, and leveraging the power of big data and predictive analysis.
The second wave of the COVID-19 unleashed havoc on India’s healthcare system and caught it unprepared and overwhelmed the existing facilities and highlighted the glaring gaps in them. One of the gaps has been accessibility of care for remote areas during scenarios like COVID-19 lockdown. During these lockdowns, the COVID-19 health helpline number 104 has been able to bridge the gap between the patients and health professionals. The 104 helpline numbers largely operated by ZHL Rajasthan, and Ziqitza Limited Rajasthan has been able to assist a vast number of patients during the COVID-19 exigency. Ziqitza Healthcare Limited through virtual care had been able to offer assistance for minor physiological illnesses, distresses and ailments.
Virtual healthcare increases operational efficiencies of the doctors, improves their feedback and support mechanisms, and reduces load on hospitals. Telehealth eases the burden and process of primary care, it makes it easier to get a second opinion, it assists doctors in effectively screening patients and determining the need for physical care. It must be noted that India is not a stranger to telemedicine, it has been there, however COVID-19 forced everyone’s hands and spurred people towards acceptance of it and adoption of video-consultations and other new-age platforms for medicines, care and consultations. Telemedicine doesn’t replace in-person care, rather provides a smarter way of accessing healthcare; it basically improves the ROI for the patients and the affordability of the care.