Digital Healthcare Platforms in India: Ready or Not?

Digital Healthcare Platforms in India: Ready or Not?

With the advent of technology, healthcare has been changing at a rapid pace, as well. The growth of healthcare digital platforms is an indicator of this change. According to research, more than half the physicians in India were already willing to use telemedicine in 2016 and this number was expected to reach almost 87% by the end of 2017. This means that even though most Indians are not comfortable with traditional e-health solutions yet, the future seems bright for the use of digital healthcare platforms by consumers and providers alike in the country. So, are India’s digital healthcare platforms ready?

In a country of 1.3 billion people, only 10 million people have health insurance and the number who can afford treatment is much less. To tackle this, Digital prescriptions, which allow for you to send your doctor a request for treatment without having to actually visit them first, are being introduced to provide healthcare access that might not be available otherwise. Online pharmacies which sell medicines at prices much lower than retail stores also help bring affordable care to those who might not be able to afford otherwise. Medicine lists are also being introduced so that patients know what their medications are for and how often they should be taken so there is no confusion about what’s needed.

Implementing Technology

The introduction of technology into healthcare has been an ongoing process, with a number of platforms that are looking to modernize the industry. These include digital prescriptions, patient records, and telemedicine. However, these new technologies pose challenges for many Indian hospitals. With lack of space and outdated infrastructure, these hospitals are struggling to maintain their standard practices while incorporating new ones. This is causing a rift between patients and hospitals with regards to the use of technology — some find it invasive while others find it helpful. Regardless of the amount of time it takes for this technological revolution to take place in India, one thing is certain — Indians need better access to healthcare and more affordable prices.

Reimagining a Hospital Experience

Modernizing hospitals with the latest technology isn’t an easy task. But for instance, by implementing the following technologies, we could drastically change the hospital experience for both patients and doctors.

1) Digital prescriptions – A digitally written prescription can be sent to a pharmacy via a messaging app and signed electronically by the prescribing doctor. This would allow patients to pick up their prescriptions from an online pharmacy.

2) Patient records – Hospitals are laden with paper files that need time-consuming manual updates; however, if hospitals digitized patient records, updating data would be much simpler for providers. It would also allow for easier electronic referrals to other specialists at different facilities. Patients can also provide informed consent electronically instead of through face-to-face meetings with providers.

Towards an Integrated Ecosystem

The first step towards digitizing the Indian health sector is to integrate the different stakeholders, including hospitals, clinics and pharmacies. One way is to build an online medical database that has a complete medicine list. This will help people to know what medicines they can use for their ailments and also be a platform for professional recommendations of medicines. The second step is to build a platform that links pharmacies with hospitals, so that there’s no need for patients to visit multiple locations while they are ill. The third step is connecting doctors and patients at home through mobile devices, allowing them to exchange information about symptoms and treatments via text messages or video calls. Another step could be using internet-connected scales and smartwatches to keep tabs on the patient’s health parameters without having to measure manually. There could also be integrated electronic medical records systems, which allow practitioners to access patients’ data remotely; these systems may include vital signs monitoring tools like blood pressure monitors, ECG monitors etc., which would eliminate most of the visits to hospitals by patients who don’t have serious illnesses.


The Indian healthcare industry was expected to grow to $280 billion by 2020. With an increasingly tech-savvy population and millions of people gaining access to the internet, it’s not a matter of if, but when, digital healthcare will become the norm.

The government has recognized this, and with financial support from private donors like Bill Gates, they hope that by 2025 at least 35% of all healthcare services will be provided through digital means. This includes telemedicine, online consultations for specialists and online pharmacies for drugs.

Despite all these encouraging signs on the horizon for digital healthcare in India, the country still faces some major challenges. There is no national data protection law and limited regulation, so patients have no recourse should something go wrong. There are also wide gaps between rich and poor residents – with those living in rural areas having much less access to technology than those living in cities do. And then there is the issue of illiteracy – many Indians who can’t read or write won’t be able to reap any benefits offered by new technology. But even with all these obstacles ahead, you know what they say about Rome wasn’t built in a day!

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