Healthcare, like other industries, is evolving rapidly, keeping pace with technology and creating enormous business opportunities for global care providers in the digital age. With the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT), medical devices are increasingly interconnected, linking equipment manufacturers, service organizations, healthcare professionals and patients/consumers. As a forerunner in the Healthcare Management Services space, embracing convergence and showing the way in the Indian context, came naturally for Techindia!
Meet R Sathyakumar, the Founder & CEO of Techindia, the man who single-handedly built, and continues building, Asia’s largest “connected health” ecosystem in India.
In India, Clinicians and healthcare staff continue to work tirelessly, providing care for their patients in an increasingly complex, not-so-efficient and stressful environment. The culture in which they work are often poorly aligned to support their efforts to respond to patients’ needs as their core priority. In the existing circumstances, Clinicians supply information and advice based on their scientific expertise in treatment and intervention options, along with potential outcomes.
Patients, their families and other caregivers bring personal knowledge on the suitability of different treatments for the patient’s circumstances and preferences. Most of this information is perhaps already available in the medical records. However, given the complexity of the situation, Clinicians do consider information from all these sources, map them with historical data and then decide on the right care option. While all the above are people-centric, optimal patient care is never complete without considering all the stakeholders in the care universe; connected devices, cloud technology, monitoring service providers…and the list is endless!
In most of the world’s developed systems of healthcare, costs are increasing at alarming rates as the compound effects of aging, chronic disease prevalence and unhealthy lifestyles escalate demand for resources. Consumers expect modern facilities and technologies, readily accessible physicians and assurance that their health care needs will be met. When care providers are equipped with appropriate tools coupled with incentives, improved outcomes, lower costs and consumer satisfaction are a given.
Evolving consumer demographics, changing public attitudes, the undulating global economy and healthcare reform have created significant opportunities that require new business and operational models to succeed in the long run. Needless to mention, technology will play a key role.
The healthcare industry must change from reactive emergency response to include proactive smart monitoring to provide consumers with a higher level of quality and safety assurance.
Connected Health, Big Data & MedTech
Medtech, a subset of healthcare technology, comprises of a broad selection of medical care equipment utilized for diagnostic purposes, monitoring and/or treating illnesses & medical conditions that affect lives and cloud technology that helps connect everything in the Universe.
Medtech devices from a web of interconnected patient care activity that are transforming the way hospitals, patients and manufacturers engage with equipment. Further, the IoT produces enormous volumes of machine data that businesses and consumers have never had access to before. For the medical fraternity, access to this data adds multiple dimensions of information analysis to the monitoring capabilities of a patient’s condition thus making it possible to identify issues related to patient health faster, earlier and efficient.
One of the most important goals of managing chronic diseases is to detect new developments early so that medical and lifestyle changes can be made before the patients’ health worsens. Thanks to Innovations in medtech, devices have been developed which can detect these minor fluctuations in patients and communicate this information directly to healthcare providers who can take appropriate action. Creating this seamless link between patients, their implants, and devices which relay patient data and physicians is essential. Evolving technology in the telemetry space is making it possible to make smart, timely healthcare decisions.
By making the right strategic decisions, selecting the right partners, and delivering the right capabilities to users of medical devices, healthcare providers can capture real economic value from incorporating IoT sensors in equipment and delivering in-depth data to their customers. Incidentally, all these are key drivers for delivering optimal patient care.
Interesting Viewpoints to Ponder
In Asia, specifically India, a majority of consumers does not understand the complete healthcare system in the country.
- More than 50% of consumers in India have one or more chronic conditions that nees continued medical assistance/monitoring.
- In general, consumers are not engaged in any health and wellness programs that relates to them. However, they are more than keen to participate if given the right guidance.
- Consumer interest in remote monitoring technology that supports health & wellness is very strong.
- Most consumers do not compare hospitals or physicians before making a selection; “Trust” continues to play a vital role in the whole system.
- Consumers show excitement when provided access to online tools and services that help them to understand their health care condition, navigate the healthcare information and connect to their health care providers.
- Security and privacy issues associated with access to personal health records and online tools are a concern.
- Almost all the consumers are satisfied with the hospitals and physicians they have used recently.
- Use of alternative health services varies and is generally low; consumers are not inclined to substitute/augment traditional therapies with alternative methods of care. However, the situation is fast changing!
- Concerns about foreseeable healthcare costs and the unpredictability surrounding it is a serious concern.
- The Doctor-to-bed ratio in India is alarmingly low and calls for policy-level reforms on high priority.
- Consumers see areas for improvement in the system: increased access to primary care services from physicians and nurses, performance-based payments for providers top the list.
The role consumers play in managing their care is key to reducing costs for health care systems. The majority of these of system costs are avoidable if consumers live healthier lives and adhere to treatment recommendations when diagnosed.
All things considered, today’s patient care is value-based and obviously in need of efficient outcomes just as much as of lower costs. Financial motives have shifted towards a model where providers get paid based on the health state of the consumer rather than the number of visits, tests and procedures performed.
To achieve optimal consumerism in a healthcare system, the industry needs to provide tools and incentives that reward appropriate behaviours by consumers working in tandem with their providers via a guided self-care management strategy. A healthcare system aligned with consumerism will likely see costs reduced and satisfaction improved if it transitions from a patient-orientation to consumerist model of care. Further, “connected health” service providers ensure care continuum both at pre-hospitalization and post-hospitalization stages, thus bridging the doctor-to-bed gap.
Sathyakumar’s Techindia; leading Medtech Convergence and Driving Patient Care Since 2000
Techindia, a pioneer offering remote healthcare management services for global healthcare providers has made significant progress in real time remote heart monitoring, clinical trials, e-ICU/ step-down ward monitoring and e-Nurse support desk, thus building a complex, multi-layered patient care ecosystem on the cloud by deploying the best of medical technology.
With over 700 employees, the company is now aggressively looking to consolidate and bring the best of global Medtech to Asia, particularly India. While Sleep and Cardiac diagnostics continue to remain Techindia’s mainstay, Sathyakumar ensured that the company stayed focused on conquering newer frontiers of patient care and medical technology. He toggles multiple hats on any given day – as an entrepreneur, as an investor, a Medtech enthusiast and a mentor, constantly maintaining a low profile and letting him and his teams’ work do the talking!
Sathyakumar’s Techindia includes a state-of-art infrastructure, dedicated facilities across five offshore centers in South India, a team of highly qualified clinical technicians, 24/7/365 “medical-grade” service delivery, accreditations from standards organizations, global business & tech partnerships, strategic investments in disruptive medtech start-ups and endorsements from marquee clients across the globe.
Sathyakumar, while interacting with the editorial team at Insights Success says that he’s betting big on medtech start-ups that are working at the cutting edge of real time, highly available, multiple vitals monitoring using scalable cloud architecture. When asked about the critical factors that determine success in today’s connected world, he says, “We need to ensure that various medical sensors work cohesively with secure data, analytics funnelled with business intelligence and a care ecosystem that helps providers to take meaningful & actionable decisions is the need of the hour. Further, customized care and affordability play a complementing role in accelerating medtech adoption and increase overall stakeholder value.”
The next three years for Sathyakumar and Techindia!
Sathyakumar’s core team at Techindia is working on the new frontiers for the coming years – e-ICU, medical robotics & Healthcare IoT. A strategic partnership with an European device manufacturer has been finalized. Soon, India will see the launch of an affordable care program that is medical grade and remotely manageable for urban & rural India.
“The key is to get the logistics and pricing strategy right. At this point of time, the thinking is we won’t charge for the device, but, charge only for service,” explains Sathyakumar. The company is also planning to double the team size, explore newer markets in developing countries and deploy a full-fledged training & certification academy in the near term.
Demographic shifts in the healthcare world point to big opportunities to provide value. Empowering Clinicians (and Consumers) to keep a tab on patients via connected technology is going to be the next big thing in India. While part of the appeal of IoT is the chance to acquire data about users on a large scale, consumers too are tickled about the chance to learn more about themselves and their health. Actually, in many cases, they expect it! These opportunities usher in a whole new world of patient engagement possibilities and together, help the healthcare system to go to the next level. Companies like Techindia and entrepreneurs like Sathyakumar will remain in high demand in developing economies like India. Cloud connectivity is changing the industry, nudging it to become more agile.
“When we take a step back and look at what we’ve created, we are starting to think of ourselves more as an IoT company, instead of purely a healthcare management services company”, said Sathyakumar, while wrapping-up his discussions with the Insights Success Editor.
The medtech industry can now offer a package of connected equipment and related services that add value and optimize overall results. Smart, connected equipment is shifting the OEM business model from one based on selling products one-by-one to selling a system of products, sensors, services and data to help providers make actionable decisions.