2022 is going to be the year of opportunities and innovations from the medical industry in India
The medical healthcare industry has been at the forefront of the pandemic for almost two years now. With two Covid-19 waves, a crunching supply chain situation and globally increased demand for medical assistance and care has put tremendous pressure on the industry. This pressure on the shoulders of the industry and practitioners have also exposed the cracks in the current infrastructure and policy framework.
But that’s how all the new innovations begin. You build a system, run it and then try to find ways to improve it. The pandemic accelerated the pace of innovations in the healthcare industry and put reforms on fast-track. The year 2021 has been a great year in terms of medical advances and innovations offered by the industry. But as the sun is setting on the year 2021, and the new year is right around the corner, it is time to set some expectations right from the industry and its different players for the year 2022. Make in India has become a reality with huge manufacturing started in ventilators and many critical care area products and now extending in radiological and pathological equipment and consumables. Here are some of the few predictions from Fujifilm India that are going to be a dominant force in the coming year.
Huge investments in the primary healthcare infrastructure
With the pandemic, we saw how disconnected our existing healthcare system is from reality. India is home to a population of more than 1.3bn, which is increasing every year. The pandemic highlighted the need for a robust primary healthcare infrastructure in the country which is accessible and available to all the sections of the society, even in the remotest corner of the country. In the year 2022, we will be witnessing huge sums of investment in the primary healthcare infrastructure by both, public and private players.
The government of India and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), have already signed a us $ 300mn loan agreement to strengthen and improve access to comprehensive primary health care in urban areas which is expected to benefit over 256 million urban dwellers including 51 million from slum areas. This is just the beginning of the massive revolutionization of the primary healthcare sector in India, which was a long time due. Fujifilm India sees a great opportunity in this market and has already started working on building devices that will further facilitate this infrastructure boost.
MedTech will be the growth engine for the industry
Covid-19 pandemic brought a set of challenges for the diagnostic and medical devices industry in India. Manufacturers had to ramp up production to meet the growing demand of devices and necessary equipment. However, the curve is now flattening, and manufacturers have taken a cognizance of utilising these large manufacturing capacities to fuel the overall revolutionization of the healthcare industry. With huge investments in setting up healthcare facilities and making them accessible to all, the demand for medical screening and diagnostic devices have gone up.
According to IBEF the healthcare market in India is expected to reach US $ 372bn by 2022, owing to rising income, access to medical insurance and better health awareness. Apart from this, the government's production-linked incentives (PLI) schemes will augment the demand. The Government of India (GOI) has commenced various initiatives in the past years with heavy emphasis on research and development (R&D) and 100 per cent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) for medical devices to boost the market.
Telemedicine is here to stay
Even though the pandemic induced lockdowns have become a thing of the past now, telemedicine and consultation is here to stay. As the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent stay-at-home orders brought chaos to the care delivery model, many clinicians and healthcare providers quickly adopted the tele healthcare models. With apps on mobile phones to connect with a doctor via one touch and still being assured of the safety of your home, telemedicine brought a relief to many. Telephonic consultations have significantly reduced the burden on doctors in the hospital. Another factor for the rise in adoption of teleconsultations is the constant fear of catching a disease at the hospital which one might not be exposed to in general. People now prefer to stay in their home and self-medicate rather than taking an extensive trip to hospitals. But self-medication presents its own risks and hence telemedicine has emerged as a convenient and secure way of accessing care. Further, the mobile data revolution and increasing efforts by authorities to boost the teleconsultation infrastructure in India, have also brought healthcare to every citizen’s mobile phone.
Artificial Intelligence and IoT will enhance the quality of healthcare services
AI and IoT have a huge potential in the healthcare field. Their adoption can help in effective screening and diagnosing. Though currently rather low, their adoption is set to increase in the future. Hospitals are a huge source of data generation on various ailments and diseases. But processing this large amount of data and analysing it to get correct results is a horrendous task. Hence the need of AI and Machine learning emerges here. Despite CT being the most effective means of diagnosis available, false positives and negatives are still common. With AI, doctors can now easily process CT Images, and access the potential threats of cancers which are usually difficult to diagnose. AI both improves the quality of these scans — stitching together images and cleaning up visual noise for a more complete and easier-to-read scan — and reads the scans themselves.
2022 is going to be the year of opportunities and innovations from the medical industry in India. India has already proved its worth to the world by being the world’s pharmacy and displayed exemplary strength by providing the world with its vaccines. But now the time has come for the country to further create a mark in the medical and healthcare industry as a self-reliant, innovative and technologically advanced nation.
(The writer is the Sr Vice President, Fujifilm India)
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