India has surpassed the population of China this year, mainly as a result of younger population, higher fertility rate, and increased life expectancy. Life expectancy in India in the 1950s was about 32 years1 primarily due to limited access to healthcare. Only 61,800 doctors and 725 2 primary healthcare centres were available to a nation of 361 million people3 . Since then, we have come a long way to emerge as a top economy and one of the world’s leading healthcare providers. India’s achievement in orchestrating the world’s most extensive digitally driven vaccination campaign to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, is a true testament to this progress.
India’s healthcare industry is at the cusp of a technology-led transformation to become a hub for international medical tourism. While multiple stakeholders have contributed significantly to the success, it is important to recognise the tireless efforts of doctors through this journey. Despite various challenges, doctors have remained the unwavering lifeline in improving the quality of human life. This lifeline is fuelled by their dedication and passion towards patient care, driving healthcare with patient centricity at the core of it.
Today, on National Doctor’s Day, let’s understand what doctors truly need to elevate patient experiences and outcomes.
New-Age Evolution of Doctor-Patient Experience
The COVID-19 pandemic served as a catalyst for healthcare professionals worldwide, compelling them to look beyond traditional healthcare and embrace newer approaches in patient care. Doctors have embraced and harnessed the power of digital technologies to lay the foundation for an agile, advanced, and integrated healthcare ecosystem.
The essence of integrated healthcare is to provide the right people with the right care at the right time for all aspects of health including physical, mental, behavioural and lifestyle. When compared to the traditional approach to healthcare, the nature of integrated healthcare requires multiple players to collaborate for efficient care delivery. With the doctor at the centre, integrated healthcare is fast, tech-led, secure, and affordable as well. It is indeed a step in the right direction for healthcare professionals to enable ‘proactive care’ than be restricted to ‘reactive care’.
Enhancing patient care by Digitalisation
The implementation of integrated healthcare has advanced telemedicine in India while helping to overcome challenges faced by clinicians4 in the last few years. A recent study found that 77%doctors believe telemedicine offers practical and convenient treatment options and smart patient care solutions which improve care experience for patients. Pharmaceutical companies are also deploying digital tools that help patients to manage their chronic conditions. They are user friendly and can provide patients with educational materials, medication reminders, and provide access to support groups.
Taking care to the next level, doctors now prescribe Digital Therapeutics (DTx) interventions. Evidence-based health programs designed to support patients in increasing awareness, helping with monitoring of disease and improve treatment adherence to managing diseases. These interventions offer a comprehensive platform with resources including connected healthcare professionals, counsellors, and medical devices and enable patients to improve their adherence to treatment protocols and gain greater control over the progression of their disease.
Most importantly, it enables doctors to understand the nature of their patients’ health and response to treatment constantly especially among patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes, serious mental health issues, asthma, or heart disease. The Indian healthcare system presents a massive opportunity for Digital Therapeutics (DTx), due to the growing population and widespread adoption and use of smart devices. It can be a game changer – where even through remote monitoring and control, patient outcomes can be improved.
Pharma Players can Elevate Patient Outcomes
Traditionally, pharmaceutical players have engaged with healthcare professionals to help patients get the appropriate treatment. However, their roles are evolving in today’s healthcare ecosystem. Along with focusing on research and technology to develop quality and affordable medicines, the pharmaceutical industry is tapping to bridge the gap between patients and doctors. Pharma players are not only working closely with doctors in the research and development (R&D) phase, but also during the delivery process of products and services. The industry is partnering with healthcare professionals to raise awareness about new innovations and therapies which focus on improving patient compliance and home care.
Improving Patient Adherence
One of the most important ways that pharma companies are improving patient outcomes is by helping patients to adhere to their treatment plans. Adherence helps them to experience less adverse events, have control over disease progression, and in managing a better quality of life. Pharmaceutical companies provide patients with educational materials about their condition and treatment plan. They also tie up with healthcare providers to develop patient support programs that can help patients to stay on track with their treatment.
Treatment is slowly evolving as science that is enriched by data. From handwritten prescriptions, the world has already moved towards sensor technologies, medical chatbot, and augmented reality for robust patient care. As a result, the pharmaceutical industry has shifted from a prescription and consumption focused paradigm to one that emphasises on patient participation and engagement. In the coming years, many additional cutting-edge technologies, like quantum computing, metaverse, web 3.0. and the spatial web5have the potential to transform the medtech space and reshape the healthcare sector.
National Doctor’s Day is an opportune moment for forward-thinking pharmaceutical companies and the medical community to collaborate in order to advance patient centricity and care to a point where patients have simplified access to the best products and services in the market and receive hyper-personalised treatment at the right time.
This article was first published in the Times of India on 1st July 2023