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Technological Advancement in Medical Industry - A Boon For India

By Rekha Ranganathan, Global General Manager, Mobile Surgery & Value Cardiology, Philips Healthcare

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Rekha Ranganathan, Global General Manager, Mobile Surgery & Value Cardiology, Philips Healthcare

The world has been keenly watching India as one of the most important emerging markets, buoyed by a rising middle class and riding the tide of urbanization and economic growth. While the progress is laudable, can we say the same about the health of our nation? After all, quoting Dr. Amartya Sen, economic growth without investment in human development is unsustainable. Healthcare has gained commendable awareness amongst Indians in the past few years, however that does not deter from the fact that the Indian population is facing the rising burden of chronic diseases (CD) such as cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes, cancer and respiratory diseases.

In India today, the incidence of chronic diseases has surpassed infectious diseases. Currently, chronic diseases account for 53 percent of total deaths and 44 percent of disability-adjusted life years lost – this is the result of nearly 20 percent of Indians suffering from chronic diseases. It is expected that by 2030, it may further increase to 67 percent of total deaths. Compared to developed countries, chronic diseases, particularly CVD, diabetes and associated deaths in India occur at younger ages with related adverse health and societal consequences. Such diseases also affect the country’s productivity, economic growth, and healthcare expenditures.

There are multiple health transitional factors which contribute to chronic diseases such as demographic, epidemiological, nutritional, behavioral, and environmental. (Do these dot points below add value? Can we compress to one para?)

• Demographic Factor: This transition depends on the age, sex, level of education and genetic composition of a person

• Epidemiological Factor: It occurs when a communicable disease, due to transition, changes to a non-communicable disease

• Behavioral Factor: The transition in the lifestyle which includes use of tobacco, drinking alcohol and wrong eating habits

• Environmental Factor: The change in the climate, air pollution results into diseases that become chronic

• Nutritional Factor: The combination of high caloric food consumption and low-level physical activity.

To combat the rise of chronic diseases, there is a need for an efficient and effective healthcare delivery mechanism. Technology has and will play a key role here in enabling the delivery of affordable healthcare in India. The healthcare industry in India is now rapidly embracing the advanced medical technologies and devices to strengthen and provide high-level performance to reach out to the population with the right solutions.

New medical advancements such as state-of-the-art live image guidance technology have created new possibilities in interventional procedures. In addition, it has empowered interventional cardiologists and vascular specialists to decide, guide and confirm the right therapy for their patients in real-time. The medical device industry has brought various low cost innovations and technology for the chronic care management. The development in the field of medical technology has opened doors for the connected care propositions wherein the patients can access doctors from home for medical consultation and diagnosis. As a result of which, the segment of wireless portable medical device is gaining popularity and market share. For example: Glucometer, Portable ECG, Cardiac monitors etc.

Furthermore, the achievements in the digital x-ray segment are helping radiologists with consistent diagnostic image quality with mobility which can be easily used in restricted places like ICUs and Operation Theatres. With these advancements in medical electronics, the industry has been capable of manufacturing small-footprint medical devices that can easily fit in small procedure rooms, thereby reducing the need and expense of specialized room modifications. Consequently, all these new innovations in the medical segment are making healthcare affordable, accessible and available to a larger population and simultaneously, benefiting doctors and patients. The rise in the demand for high performing and better medical facilities has urged the need for advancement in medical equipment, devices, and services that can be handled easily, helping in accurately identifying the problems and providing treatment to patients.

A rise in the number of hospitals has also been a driving factor for the positive growth of the segment. The quality of treatment with these advanced medical devices has appreciably reduced healthcare issues among patients, families and the society while improving the country’s health system significantly. However, the healthcare regime is still noticing a low penetration and lack of awareness among the people. There are issues with the accessibility of the products in rural areas where a large population of our country lies. There is a need to standardize quality which should be at par with global standards. High capital investments and complex regulations are some of the challenges which act as obstacles in the growth path of medical device industry.

Some of the recent government-led initiatives that have supported the healthcare industry to a great extent include 100 percent FDI, Make in India campaign, the draft National Medical Device policy laying down the new framework for the sector, medical device parks providing special incentives, fast clearances, and approvals. Local design, manufacturing and developing the local infrastructure and supply base has the biggest potential to dramatically impact the landscape here in India, similar to the initiatives that China embarked on 10 years ago. Sustained investment and push in this initiative is required to make this truly game changing for India and the human development, betterment of health statistics for the long term.

If India has to be seen as a bellwether in healthcare and having better longevity and improved health measure for the population, all of the above – Industry/Products, hospital delivery and patients, government need to come together. This concerted effort by all stakeholders is required to ensure that effective and affordable healthcare is made available to India’s masses; hence, a healthy and sustainable progress for the country and its people.

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