Interviews

mhealth is Enabling a new Paradigm in delivering Integrated, Patient Centric and Intelligent Healthcare

SomenathNag-2

As the Director – ISV & Enterprise Solutions in Calsoftlabs, he is responsible for growing Calsoftlabs’ ISV, Cloud, and BI & Analytics businesses globally. In conversation with Healthtechnology.in, AltenCalsoft Director, SomenathNag shares his inclusive outlook on the mHealth industry of the country

Could you please tell us more about ALTEN Calsoft Labs.

ALTEN Calsoft Labs is a pioneer in delivering enterprise digital transformation solutions leveraging disruptive technology platforms viz., Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud. Our deep domain and technologyexpertise enables world’s leading organizations to addresstheir business challenges through smart and agile consulting, enterprise IT and product engineering services for Healthcare, Education, ISV, Networking & Telecom, High-Tech & Retail/E-Commerce industries .

We are a 100% owned subsidiary of European technology and consulting leader ALTEN S.A. with 18,000+ employees spread across 20+ global locations.

Our organization DNA is characterized by our quest to deliver sustainable innovation to our customers, employees, and partners through engineering excellence, thus being a part of their business integration and transformation journey.

What makes ALTEN Calsoft Labs unique is our ability to help clients meet both business and technology problems by enhancing productivity, ensuring seamless and uninterrupted functioning of vital business functions andour ability to sustain long term customer relationships.

Some of our differentiators are:

  • Featured among the Top 20 Healthcare & Life Sciences Solutions provider by CIO Review
  • 4 Fortune 100 Customers
  • 11 Global Software Leaders as Customers
  • Working for the largest private university of USA in providing Connected education
  • Working for World’s largest Retailer & auto auctioneer as their end-to-end engineering partner
  • Strong 20+ years of strong industry and technology experience and established centres of excellence for SMAC, Microsoft, Java/J2EE, Opensource, UX and Testing

 

With the rapid involvement of technology in the entire domain, how do you perceive Indian healthcare growth?

India has 17% of the world’s population and the expenditure on our healthcare system and infrastructure is still the lowest among the growing economies. There are inherent challenges of Availability, Accessibility and Affordability when it comes to care delivery to our people. Yet, the Indian healthcare market is poised to grow at a CAGR of 15% and is expected to grow steadily in the coming years due to increased life expectancy, growing affordability & awareness and lower mortality rate. Indian Healthcare Industry is currently estimated at a USD 60 billion.

Tele-Health market in India is expected to grow at a minimum of 15% CAGR for the next decade.

The main drivers for the growth are:

  • Skewed Availability of Healthcare Personnel
    • 75-80% of the population lives in rural area
    • Most of the doctors and specialists are concentrated in Urban areas
  • Small per capita Healthcare Budget
    • Healthcare spending of USD 40 per capita
    • Low spending
    • Need to maximize value derived
    • Extreme sensitivity to healthcare spending
  • Disease Profile of the Population
    • High incidence of communicable and infectious diseases, many of them self-limiting or easily treatable with minimal clinical expertise
    • Growing prevalence of lifestyle diseases
  • Increasing Penetration of Mobile Communication
    • Indian Telecom industry fastest growing in the world
    • Semi-urban and rural areas driving the growth
    • More than 700 million mobile connections in India (2010), with penetration expected to cross 80% by 2014

With the advent of new mobility and connected care delivery platforms, there has been a lot of interest among the consumers in India about:

  • Call a doctor/Shop a doctor
  • Patient Education & Health Tips
  • Home health and remote patient monitoring
  • Tele diagnosis and e-prescription
  • Tele counselling

 

Mobile penetration in India has increased and major carriers now offer Dial-a-doctor services. Are mHealth solutions taking root or more still to be done?

There appears to be a lot of uncovered ground in terms of mHealth initiatives in India with a lot of enablers and barriers for mobile and digital health adoption in India.

Key Indicator Drivers Barriers
Evidence of Efficacy mHealth showing impact in quality and cost Inconclusive proof of efficacy in specific situations
Consumer Adoption Increased participation in healthcare beyond hospital care setting Consumer resistance
Cost to Deploy/Cost to Use Falling deployment costs Technical difficulty and care delivery risk
Regulatory Climate Improved regulatory climate for mHealth and improved support for interoperability between healthcare systems Regulatory concerns over security, privacy and lack of clarity over specific Indian standards
Clinical Adoption Increased awareness and acceptance among healthcare professionals(doctors, specialists and insurance companies) Continued resistance to change from healthcare professionals(doctors, specialists and insurance companies)

 

Has the growth of mHealth been in proportion to the mobile penetration in India? Have 3g services helped or areSMS based help still the best solution?

mHealth or mobile health is the future of healthcare. The future of healthcare in India is going to be through a mobile phone where people will have a “mobile hospital” in their pockets.

With increasing 3G and 4G rollouts in India, a whole new world of possibilities have opened up for healthcare players to address various care delivery aspects.

  • 3G/4G networks support video calling and high speed data transfer that helps doctors to provide uninterrupted telemedicine services
  • 3G services provide enhanced patient experience by fast telephone based consultations, access to patient records, remote patient monitoring and video consultations

 

mHealth is touted as a solution to getting healthcare services to rural and hard to reach areas, but how relevant are they in urban areas, where quality healthcare is within reach? Will rapid urbanization mean mHealth losing importance?

Urban individuals, especially those in higher income brackets, present a completely different market opportunity. There is an upward trend in cases of Diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and obesity due to the hectic life style in urban areas.

Enabling  mHealth services such as telephone-based appointment scheduling and SMS prescription services, saves consumers time while the availability of consultations via telephone or a video lets users know that quality care is just a click away.

The collaborative effort and partnerships among healthcare providers and technology-enabling organizations are likely to increase in the near future to drive this wave of mHealth.

Some of the use cases of mHealth in urban population are:

  • A patient may enter his/her vitals like height, weight, BP, temperature, heart rate/pulse rate every day into a mobile app so that a physician can view and can carry out a trend analysis
  • A more complex service might transmit the results of blood glucose to a cloud enabled server that synchs with a smart phone for efficient diagnosis and monitoring
  • 24/7 heart monitoring could be conducted via a 3G equipped pacemaker that automatically sends physicians text messages and web-based reports

 

Please tell us the importance of analytics of mHealth.

Over the last couple of years, we have seen an exponential growth in the adoption of mobile health initiatives by healthcare industry players viz., Providers, Payers, Pharma & Life Sciences companies.

We have seen an increased trend in doctors using smartphones and other handheld devices to provide efficient and effective care to patients. For the most part, the doctors are looking up patient health records and searching for health information in a secure manner. With up to the last minute accurate patient data at the fingertips, the doctors can make smart, quicker and better diagnosis – thus improving the quality of care.

The mobile health market is one of the fastest growing areas in the health IT space. We recognize the growing importance of mobile technologies and its impact to transform the delivery of patient care.

mHealth and Analytics are going to have a bigger impact on:

  • Adoption of New Care Models leveraging cloud and mobile for pharmacy management, telehealth, and medication administration
  • Consolidation of Clinical, Operational, Financial and Social data helps in deriving actionable insights in delivering connected care
  • Leverage analytics to deliver 360 degree patient experience via dashboards and MIS reports
  • Standards & Interoperability
    • Integration of mobile devices with EHR/EMR
    • Integration with Clinical Systems
    • Alerts from remote monitoring device
    • Privacy & Security – means for securing data on mobile device

 

An overview of mHealth sector in India. What is worth and how much growth do you foresee? What are the major challenges? 

In India alone, the market for mobile health interventions will be worth $557 million by 2017, PricewaterhouseCoopers forecasts. Also, an analysis from Frost & Sullivan report on Overview of mHealth Market in India, finds that the compound annual growth rates (CAGR) for mobile handset in the rural and urban markets are likely to be 12.4 and 10.6 percent, respectively, till 2016.

India’s vast mobile user base makes it an ideal market for mHealth services. The Indian government has been launching new initiatives to bring in greater awareness in mHealth to bridge the gap between urban and rural markets.

Information technology, and especially mobility, is disrupting and transforming the healthcare industry. Mobile health is enabling a new paradigm in delivering integrated, patient centric and intelligent healthcare to enhance patient engagement and support access to connected care. With mHealth, a new era of intelligent connected care has emerged that provides consumers access to vast clinical knowledge, insights and capabilities of the best and brightest doctors.

New mobile information technology tools combined with innovative business models are enabling healthcare consumers to leverage mobile tools, wellness applications and devices that allow for greater control over their health, more choice, better access and a decrease in overall costs.

Challenges for mHealth Adoption

mHealth is still a fledgling concept and most of the initiatives undertaken are only a couple of years old. The market has very few successful business models and it will be at least a couple more years down the line before a successful model emerges. This is due to the large disparity in mobile infrastructure in rural and urban India.

“Mobile connectivity and data transmission is still a challenge in the rural markets, since people from these market segments use mobile phones mostly for their voice services; the acceptance of value-added services is very low. The primary reason for this is high prevalence of poverty and illiteracy (around 31%) in rural areas.”

The urban market, however, continues to witness growth in mobile handset uptake due to the developing replacement market. With quality healthcare being centralized in urban centres, there is a dearth of medical workforce in rural markets. The healthcare industry is hoping that mobile platforms will close the disparity in service provision.

With the increasing penetration of mobile services in rural areas, mHealth solutions can strengthen the healthcare delivery system for the rural population. This will happen only with a collaborative effort on the part of policy makers, telecom providers, and mHealth solution providers.

“The rural population should be educated about the benefits of mHealth services, while the urban population should be encouraged to use mHealth applications to modify and monitor their lifestyle,” said an F&S analyst. “Once these objectives are realized, the mHealth application market in India is expected to develop significantly over the period of next five years.”

 

 

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