Emergency Care Services in India

Technology as a key enabler

Prasanthi Sadhu, Editor, Asian Hospitals and Healthcare Management

Emergency care is all about the quick response, accessibility, and availability of essential services. The quality and accuracy of the information available and relevant data obtained during an emergency incident are the key factors that determine the outcome and its success.

Technology plays a key role in healthcare and, in fact, a critical element in emergency incidents. From geo-tracking to reach patients in the shortest possible time, predictive analytics, telehealth, portable diagnostic devices, and chatbots to drones aiding transportation of blood bags to remote places and facilitating emergency medical air delivery, saving lives through virtual reality and simulations, to the ever-rising healthcare apps, we see technology as an enabler for timely care.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), more than 3,74,000 people lost their lives due to accidents in 2020. A July 2021 study by All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi, found that the emergency medical care systems in India are far from adequate. While 91 per cent of hospitals in secondary and tertiary level centres have ambulances, less than 35 per cent of these have trained medical staff and paramedics to provide emergency medical care to the patients.

In a bid to create a strong health system, the World Health Organization (WHO) in its 2007 World Health Assembly (WHA) Resolution 60.22 ‘Health Systems: Emergency Care Systems’ called for all countries to develop effective emergency care systems. More recently in 2019, WHA 72.16 ‘Emergency care systems for universal health coverage: ensuring timely care for the acutely ill and injured’ placed emergency medicine as a core specialty within any healthcare system. Recently, the WHA called on the member states to prioritise the establishment of integrated emergency and trauma care systems. The Indian government is collaborating with different organisations and setting up autonomous bodies like the Centralised Accidents and Trauma Services (CATS).

Development of best-in-class emergency systems revolves around key factors such as governance and regulation, technology-aided infrastructure, continuous monitoring and improvement of systems for effective emergency care delivery. Several hospitals in the country have been looking at insights from space technology to upgrade emergency and critical care services. As the country continues to focus on technology and digitalisation, a holistic approach to building next-gen emergency care systems emulating practices with learnings from leading nations can help India embark on its journey to enhance the emergency care landscape.

--Issue 57--

Author Bio

Prasanthi Sadhu

Prasanthi Sadhu Editor, Asian Hospitals and Healthcare Management

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