Driving the future of digital health

Prasanthi Sadhu

Prasanthi Sadhu

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Prasanthi Sadhu Editor, Asian Hospitals and Healthcare Management

Technological advancements and the advent of modern care delivery models have in a way narrowed down the gap between physical and virtual healthcare environments. Since the COVID-19, public health emergency has increased the utilisation of technology to safely access and deliver healthcare. Virtual health companies are coming forward to grow at record levels to innovate and find winning models. There has been a significant change in the attitude towards embracing virtual health, both from patients and service providers’ perspective. On the other hand, investments in telehealth and digital health have shot up exponentially along with favourable regulatory changes.

According to a survey conducted by Applause in July 2021, 46 per cent of respondents used telehealth services at least once and 84 per cent opted virtual platforms to avoid in-person activities during the Covid-19 pandemic. Over the last year, Telehealth has certainly redefined patient care bringing forth the importance of virtual care giving with the help of digital technologies. We have witnessed the emergence of virtual care and digital health business models to improve patient experience, accessibility, affordability, and outcomes.

While telehealth services have seen a tremendous uptick in the Covid environment, the rate at which it grew has normalised. Now, there is a need for additional reforms that focus on making telehealth an integral part of value-based care. The Covid-19 pandemic has indicated it’s time to make Telehealth a fundamental step and a priority for caregiving, thus creating avenues to modernise care delivery. A recent McKinsey study suggests that the telehealth market has a tremendous growth potential from US$3 billion to US$250 billion by 2025.

Decisive action is required for healthcare systems to develop capabilities at scale to provide high-quality patient care. From building capabilities to supporting the workforce requirements, health systems have to focus on accelerating the growth of telehealth usage across regions.

From healthcare organisations and technology providers standpoint, it is essential to evaluate the impact of virtual care in various scenarios, identify the need to build assets and capabilities required to execute an effective telehealth implementation plan. This way, the stakeholders in the industry will be better prepared to adopt a virtual health roadmap. Today, Telehealth appears to be the way forward, but it requires a holistic shift rather than a unidimensional approach. Beginning with the development of infrastructure, it is essential to obtain necessary regulatory clearances/ approvals in time. Most importantly, train and prepare the caregivers to leverage technology for highly-effective care delivery.

This issue features an article by Angela Lee, Principal and Regional Managing Director for Asia Pacific at HKS and Gordon Gn, Design Director at HKS Singapore. In this article, Angela and Gordon take us through how Telehealth can be the next frontier of virtual care beginning with impact on physical design of facilities while delving into how a physical-digital hybrid approach. The issue also covers an interesting writeup on leveraging space technology for improving healthcare outcomes by K Ganapathy, Director, Apollo Telemedicine Networking Foundation, and other insightful articles. Hope you find the issue very interesting.

--Issue 54--