The Indian Clinical Trials Paradox

Anjali Awasthi, Director, Medkonect Services Medkonect caters to various needs of the healthcare industry, providing in-time clinical help, for doctors, hospitals, health service providers and NGOs and assisting them attain a more streamlined service provision.

Complicated and invasive clinical procedures will always require experts, so the focus for most Indian healthcare innovations has been on prevention and early detection, to compensate for infrastructure absence and resource deficits in India, saving costs, time and efforts. Many health tech companies and startups have done exemplary work on IT, IoT, EMR, mhealth, AI, telehealth, virtual health, home health, cloud and predictive analytics. Today there are many clinical grade devices and solutions available that are reliable, effective and affordable. Digital is beginning to change the way healthcare is delivered. To validate the potential of health tech, a recent report released by CII & PWC states mobile delivery of healthcare alone has the potential to save the country USD 0.8-1 billion annually

With access to even basic healthcare a challenge and India’s doctor patient ratio of 1:1500, it will take time to balance demand and supply, and no amount of funding will ever be enough to solve the many problems of high patient volumes, unless there is a will to adopt technology and increasingly advanced solutions. What we need is to make these innovative solutions more accessible and acceptable.If finding enough doctors is a continuing challenge, another equally large challenge is changing their mindsets to adopt technology. Slow adoption has been the biggest barrier to successful mass implementations of technology. Industry experts attribute this resistance to lack of sufficient understanding, less time for training, dearth of medical tech experience, compatibility with legacy systems, clinical sensitivities, compliances and accountabilities involved,complexity of healthcare regulations, restrictions on data fluidity, possible patient data breaches and process confidentiality issues etc. Most experts feel, error implications could be high and have thus largely remained risk averse. We need to make our clinical experts more tech skilled if not tech savvy. Skill them with
the use of technology while the tech skills will develop their ability to 'find, evaluate, integrate, communicate and not hesitate'.

Technologies need adequate usage over time to mature and improve, unless the new and emerging health tech solutions are leveraged, we will never be able to fully address the challenges or move forward.

Technologies need adequate usage over time to mature and improve, unless the new and emerging health tech solutions are leveraged, we will never be able to fully address the challenges or move forward. Besides the clinical experts and innovative tech solution providers, others on this spectrum are patients, insurance and healthcare providers, whose involvement is equally important. Patients as recipients trust clinical experts for advice, they now need to be educated to also trust & use technology for their healthcare - to become active consumers - the more we move them towards personalized collaborative interactions with real time care and health management, we will eventually lead them towards more involved healthcare decisions. Patient education and engagement is beginning among the urban populace, but with 70 percent Indians in rural India we have a long way to go. In urban India, doctor patient ratio is still better and access to facilities is less of a challenge

If we want healthcare consumers to change from 'break-fix approach' to 'preventive healthcare', health insurance providers can serve as enablers, helping in faster adoption of technology by offering plans thatalso cover the new and emerging 'points of care'. Healthcare providers to become efficient treatment centers, also need to move from service centricity to patient centricity, designing and offering services that are relevant and easily customizable. This will help connect ‘words’ with ‘actions’ to reduce post purchase dissonances or the ‘promise gap’. Change in processes, culture and communicationwill be required, to behaviorally move from ‘sharing’ to 'engaging'. It may take some time, but if there is ‘will’ and ‘skill’ available, this should be possible. Moving print, online and social interactions with patients, frompreachy non-contextual content to communication that is personalized, timely, relevant and responsive should be a good point to start from to improve interfaces. Just changing communication tools will be a quick fix, in the word of mouth driven times what is really needed is a mindset change.

The more getsseen from patients’ perspective, the more ‘health’ will be offered with 'care'. Innovative solutions are a beginning buthealthcare also requiressustainable patient relationships. If patients feel engaged with healthcare providers, they may trust use of new methods of delivery, new technology and treatments. Healthcare can never work in pieces; we need an integrated holistic approach. There has been so much development on health tech solutions and services, it is time we pool it all together to reap optimal benefits of evidence based clinical innovations and outputs. As stakeholders in Indian healthcare industry, we must advocate, use and offer theseto those for whom they were designed. If patient centric health tech is developed, promoted and availed, we will all benefit from it. With technology and our world class experts, wecan take care of preventions and interventions.Last but not the least, with technology or without it,everyone on the healthcare spectrum can never stop being empathetic- because the core of healthcare evolution is never going beyond ‘human lives’.