Ashutosh Tiwari talks about the latest innovations in the healthcare sector and their benefits
With new innovations like Nobel Award recognised cancer therapies, artificial pancreas, IoMT (Internet of Medical Things), ICT (Information and Communication technology) breakthroughs, and drug manufacturing advancements, 2018 has created new foundations to build a better healthcare ecosystem in future. The legacy will continue in 2019 with value-based care supported by artificial intelligence, big data science, blockchains, and medical R&Ds. Some of the innovations that will create new benchmarks in the healthcare industry in 2019 are:
Electronic Health Records (EHRs)
The deployment of ICT (Information and Communication Technology) and a series of cloud-based networks have brought almost every area of the globe in one interconnected network, especially benefitting the healthcare penetration across geographies despite all odds. Telemedicine is tapping more people across the globe with EHRs. These cloud-based and blockchain based EHRs have enhanced the efficiency of remote patient monitoring, resolved infrastructure concerns and balanced the doctor-population disparity across the world. Australia is the first nation to avail EHRs for all in 2018. The trend will be followed by many other developed and developing nations including India in 2019. These medical records will be accessed by doctors for more effective treatment of patients.
EHRs have not just facilitated healthcare for the larger population but have also brought alive the concept of precision medicine. This next stage of telemedicine will allow doctors to prescribe treatments based on their complete medical history and genetic understanding. Instead of experimenting with different drugs and drug dosages to monitor and cure diseases (both CDs and NCDs), doctors can analyse the patient's symptoms, vitals, immunity level, and medicine response with help of EHRs and AI based medical analysis tools to prescribe targeted medicine. In 2019, Precision Medicine will have greater roles in the treatment of NCDs (Non-Communicable Diseases) and hereditary diseases like cancer, diabetes, cardiac issues, and others.
Gene editing tools like CRISPR (Clustered, Short Palindromic Repeats, Regularly Interspaced), and other gene makeup technologies, which introduce curative genes through viral vectors for treatment have been successfully developing throughout 2017 and 2018. The year 2019 will be marked with widespread implementation of these gene therapies to cure numerous diseases in different stages of human life— from embryos to matures.
The development of ICT in healthcare came along with the threats of cybersecurity, which is a burgeoning issue across the globe. Healthcare industry is more likely to face intrusion attacks in the coming year as well. Hence, cybersecurity has become as important as the implementation of EHRs and healthcare access. With better IT fortification and new security measures, 2019 will see enormous growth in Telehealth and E-medicine.
AI-powered Equipment and Wearables
With greater investment and collaborative R&Ds, the healthcare sector will become the largest industry for AI based activities. Apart from AI enabled health monitors, the cloud-based connection of wearables and smart sensors are also playing a crucial role in health diagnosis and recording vitals. The SaaS/PaaS (Software as a service/ Platform as a service) based digital healthcare models will realise the dream of quality healthcare for everyone across the world in 2019.
The writer is Chairman-Managing Director, Vinoba Bhave Research Institute