In the future, healthcare may involve algorithm-based personalised medication, robots to look after dementia and elderly patients, digital health avatars created by medical trackers, and more, according to a digital health whitepaper by technology think tank iSPIRT. The paper, released on November 26 in collaboration with Itihaasa, a not-for-profit studying Indian businesses, looks at Indian and international developments in digital health to lay down trend predictions in both the local and global contexts.
It laid down seven predictions for the global digital health sector and suggested possible scenarios within India’s National Digital Health Ecosystem.
iSPIRT is an active player in Indian e-governance, with involvement in payments as well as digital health schemes. Observations and research put out by the organisation can be seen as a precursor to other policy developments.
Scenarios for digital health in India
Artificial Intelligence improving maternal health: The paper presented a scenario where a pregnant woman in a village improves her nutrition intake by taking pictures of her meals through an app, which calculates its calories and cross-verifies it with the diet plan set for her by a city-based doctor. The scenario also involves the woman using telemedicine to consult with the doctor, using the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission’s personal health records app, consent manager, and Unique Health ID in the process.
‘Surgery-as-a-service’: By 2040, iSPIRT has predicted, Indian doctors will be able to offer ‘surgeries-as-a-service’ to patients world-wide through robots, 5G Technology, standardised electronic health records, data sharing protocol agreements, and more.
Simulations for public health: By 2030, iSPIRT has predicted that a Public Health Informatics and Data Analytics Department formed under the ABDM will undertake real-time simulations to control disease outbreaks using environmental, water quality, and crowd-sourced pollution data. In the scenario, citizens’ data will also be monitored by their preferred primary healthcare provider, which sends them “tailored preventive prescriptions”. Meanwhile, games and simulations are used to prepare them for worse outbreaks.
Key trends in global digital health
The popularity of genomics- Genomics-related services, such as gene-editing and genotyping (studying genes to identify issues), will become more sought after, the paper predicted.
Digital health avatars- iSPIRT said that with increasing concerns around privacy of health data, in the future, people will be represented by various digital health avatars in the ‘health metaverse’. Data from various fitness trackers, health sensors, medical examinations, and tests will constantly update the metaverse.
Digital-first clinics- “Just like flipped classrooms, we will see the emergence of flipped clinics/hospitals – activities, like collecting samples and running tests, that have typically taken place in clinical settings, will be done in new locations and by leveraging new technologies,” the paper read. Patient-centric health care models will increase and digital-first clinics, even in areas such as cancer, will increase, it added.
Algorithm-based medicine- Using data from millions of customers, data scientists in collaboration with doctors will design algorithms to offer the latter personalised medical recommendations during consults.
Empathic care robots- AI robots that can discern and display human emotions, understand spoken language, give medications, and act as medical chatbots will provide care to the elderly and patients with dementia.
Health games- Games using Virtual Reality and 3D modelling will be used in medical education. Other health games will also emerge to educate users about health, make them adhere to their medicine schedules, improve their mental or physical health, and so on, the paper read.
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