Technology for the layman means anything which improves quality of product offering, or saves time, or reduces cost, compared to the current standards.
Healthcare, right from the time of quack medicines, raw roots and witchcraft spells, has had an aura of mystique around it. It has not been easy to apply mathematical parameters to this field, but with technology, even this sector may see disruptions happening.
Technology and the time factor
Time is a convenience and often a critical factor in the healthcare industry process. In case of an emergency, late arrival of an ambulance can complicate the medical procedure at the hospital and may even prove life-threatening. During such a situation, services like ambulance aggregator Dial4242, come into play as they address issues through its digitally-controlled database, which covers both ambulances and hospital locations. Jeetu Lalwani, co-founder of the aggregator, states, “The average ambulance response time to your doorstep in urban areas is approximately 20-25 minutes. We have managed to reduce this to 12-15 minutes and users can track location and estimate time of arrival too.”
There are number of services catering to non-urgent cases which offer convenience. This is exactly where NCR-based home diagnostics, Healthians step in as they offer test procedure with quality and convenience of your home. The testing process normally involves 1.5 days. However, with Healthians offering home delivery and digital records access combination, the testing time comes down substantially, says promoter and CEO Deepak Sahni.
Technology as an efficiency raiser
Technology enhances efficiency in two ways— a better diagnostic process or a better operations/ treatment method. Take Scandent Technologies, which specialises in head-and-neck scanning done through cone-based CT scan method. Used mainly in dental procedures, this method has the light beam coming out of a conical source, which means better coverage of subject area and life-size images, with better diagnostic value.
Meanwhile, Dial4242 which has a network of over 250 ambulances across Mumbai, also helps improve efficiency. Lalwani adds that every private ambulance undertakes five trips a day on an average whereas its aggregation fleet does 10 trips a day and has 2-3 times greater enquires and pre-bookings, with 25 per cent repeat orders. Then there is healthi, a diagnostics service provider, which aims to interpret individual biostatistical data to find potential health risks early and help manage them.
Cost and convenience
Cost difference is an important decision element for customers, both in terms of actual amount and the value equation. Transportation of patients is a significant cost and services like Dial4242 have managed to standardise rates on the basis of distance across different city segments, whereas earlier the charges were quite subjective and non-transparent, often based on how worried the caller sounded. Lalwani claims that even with commission, Dial4242 offers customers a more economical deal. Healthians avers that it offers better deals to its clients, simply because the medical practitioners are bypassed. One cannot forget to mention services like Pharmeasy which allows ordering of medicines online and that too at a discounted rate compared to the printed prices. Adding to it, Dhaval Shah, founder of Pharmeasy says that this of course is subject to proper prescription which is the main constraint in online applications for medicine delivery getting rejected.
In the case of cone-based CT scans, Scandent promoter Dr. Gautam Deshpande states that overall patient exposure to radiation is 3-5 per cent of the alternative scan procedures. Also, the scan time is 15 seconds, and there is no requirement to get inside a gantry for scanning which improves the patient experience. Scandent is getting into corporate tie-ups where clients like hospitals would pre-purchase scans in bulk and offer them to their patients. Sahni estimates that rising awareness about preventive healthcare, and the necessity of regular monitoring, will anyways get a large section of healthcare spenders onto digital platforms.
Technology helps imagine new possibilities
Technological innovations often help in breakthroughs not just in individual cases, but often in accessing markets which were otherwise not accessible. For healthi, their tech platform has enabled them to put together a database of more than a million health records across 150 cities in India, which is notable by any standards. They look to tie up with Government bodies, which helps speed up their access to records.
Krishna Ulagaratchagan, founder, states, “India needs biostatistics— here 60 per cent people don’t getting accurate check-ups since they didn’t know which areas are vital for them. We are aiming that a few quick responses to queries on our site will help narrow down the vital areas for each individual. Our median transaction value is Rs 1, 500 which actually means that our product bundles health check and analytics into pretty much the cost of a health check.”