New Delhi: In a bid to address issues critical to building a digital ecosystem aiming at digital health for all and how organisations can adopt digital technologies, India’s first-ever Global Digital Health Summit, Expo and Innovation Awards kicked off at New Delhi’s Vigyan Bhawan on October 28, 2022, with a spectacular attendance of more than 1,500 delegates from 50 countries.
The inaugural edition was graced by Union Health Minister Dr Jitendra Singh, MBBS, MD, Union Minister of State, Prime Minister’s Office, Government of India. The two-day summit began with a welcome address by the Summit co-chair Mr Brian O’Connor and a keynote address by Mr Bakul Patel, Senior Director – Global Digital Health, Strategy and Regulatory, Google.
It was followed by a panel discussion on ‘Return on Investment in Digital Health’. Chaired by Dr Rajendra Pratap Gupta, Chairman – of Dynamic Coalition on Digital Health, IGF – United Nations, the panel featured Cathy Wolfe, President and CEO, GGM, Wolters Kluwer, USA; Dr Devi Shetty, Chairman and Executive Director, Narayana Health; Rustom Lawyer, Co-founder and CEO, Augnito; Dr Anand Iyer, Chief Analytics Officer, Welldoc Inc, USA; and Dr Manivannan Selvaraj, Founder and MD, Kauvery Group of Hospitals.
The session highlighted the importance of the clinical decision support system (CDSS), its challenges, and the way forward for affordable and accessible healthcare.
“In India, as of 2020, the ratio of doctors to population states at 7.35 to 10,000. It is important to overcome the ratio, provide cost-efficient access to quality care, and onboard into digital health. CDSS provides evidence-based medicine, which is way faster and more diverse than experience-based medicine.
This arrangement not only helps with reducing physician burnout but also ensures improved patient outcomes. Equitable healthcare, the right care at the right time, and improved outcomes can result in immediate ROI,” said Wolfe.
Commenting on the way forward, Lawyer shared, “I believe that better healthcare for all is possible by leveraging the power of digital tech artificial intelligence. For best results, we need to build an ICT strategy and framework keeping technology investment as a profit centre rather than a cost centre, drive population health analytics by investing in technology that introduces and enhances EMR adoption, invest in solutions that make it easier for doctors to adopt digital solutions such as ABDM, and invest in technology that augments current workforce as shortage of doctors cannot be solved overnight.”
Addressing the summit, Dr Jitendra Singh, said, “This summit is an excellent opportunity to focus on the roadmap’s research and innovation priorities, particularly in relation to the digital advances in the healthcare sector. Spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, rapid digitisation, increasing internet and smartphone penetration, and government initiatives like Make in India and National Digital Health Mission, the healthcare sector is digitizing and innovating at an accelerated speed”.
He further added that under PM Modi’s leadership healthcare has become more focused on innovation and technology over the past few years. 80 per cent of the healthcare systems are aiming to increase their investment in digital healthcare tools in the coming five years. Indian innovators are developing pathbreaking health-tech products and solutions. The government is applying these digital health developments through the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission.
“India has all the essential ingredients for the exponential growth in this sector, including a large population, a robust pharma and medical supply chain, smartphone users, and technical manpower. As the pace of digital innovation accelerates, the opportunities for healthcare companies and manufacturers will multiply and patient outcomes will improve,” he said.
“Data accessibility plays an important role in delivering high-quality patient care as it provides clinicians with immediate access to patient records, including medical history, test results and relevant information provided by other clinicians.
With access to the right data, clinicians can deliver exceptional healthcare by making informed decisions substantially faster, reducing wait times and contributing to providing better healthcare at a better cost. However, access to data that is clean, complete, and accurate for use is still an ongoing battle in the healthcare sector. This needs to be addressed immediately,” said Michael in her keynote address.
The summit concluded with another panel discussion on ‘Making India a World Leader in Digital Health Implementation’ featuring Mr Bharat Lal, Director General – National Centre for Good Governance, GoI; Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha, Secretary – AYUSH, GoI; Vivek Sehgal, Director General – Organisation of Pharmaceutical Producers of India; and Dr Sanjay Sood, Project Director – eSanjeevani (National Telemedicine Service), C-DAC Mohali.
Other highlights of the event included the release of ‘Women’s Health Guideline’ and ‘Digital Health for All – By 2028’, and the launch of Project Concern 2028 and Health Parliament.
The event is being organised in association with digital health associations like The Global Health Connector Partnership (American Telemedicine Association, HLTH, European Connected Health Alliance, Commonwealth Centre for Digital Health, African Health Federation, The Digital Health Society, Health Parliament), The International Society for Telemedicine and Health, Switzerland, and Internet Governance Forum- Dynamic Coalition on Digital Health.