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Reimagining Healthcare in India: Digital Innovations to Alleviate Staff Shortages in Healthcare

Dec 08, 2023 - Reading time 3-5 minutes

Ever since the onset of the Covid19 pandemic in 2020, the healthcare sector in India has been grappling with the multifaceted challenge of workforce shortages. This challenge, coupled with the pressing need to enhance staff experience and retention, have become chronic and critical issues for healthcare providers in India. Healthcare professionals, encompassing physicians, nurses, and the technicians responsible for conducting vital tests find themselves under unprecedented levels of pressure. They not only contend with imbalanced patient-to-staff ratios but also grapple with data alerts that can be overwhelming and inefficient workflows that consume valuable time and divert their attention from the most crucial aspect of their roles – patient care.

Overcoming workforce challenges is critical to providing quality patient care and in this context, data-driven digital technologies can play a crucial role. Much like how innovative technologies such as UPI and telehealth have positively impacted various facets of our daily lives and offered solutions to intricate challenges, they hold immense potential within the field of healthcare. The extensive integration of digital technologies has the potential to expand access to superior, sustainable, and convenient healthcare for people worldwide, enhancing the overall experience for both patients and healthcare professionals.

Earlier this year, the Indian government announced its decision to set up three Centres of Excellences of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to foster innovation and develop cutting edge applications and scalable solutions in healthcare. We are also encouraged by the Government’s focus on increasing the number of skilled healthcare professionals in the country through new educational institutions as it will increase accessibility to quality healthcare. These steps offer great long term solutions to address the healthcare staff shortage in India. However, in the meanwhile, there is a need to look at digital health technologies as a means to address India’s healthcare needs.

Synergy Between India’s Health Needs and Digital Technologies


India is witnessing an immense need for uninterrupted connectivity in acute care, bridging the gap between rural and urban regions. Thanks to digital advancements, it has become possible to remotely monitor patients from centralized hubs. A prime example of this is the implementation of tele-ICUs, overseen by a team of intensivists, which now enables the provision of critical care support to patients, regardless of the physical location of their hospital. These cutting-edge technologies broaden the scope and amplify the efficiency of healthcare professionals, including nurses, radiologists, pathologists, and beyond.

As the Covid-19 pandemic necessitated the adoption of digital technologies in healthcare, the fundamental infrastructure for their widespread utilization is already in place. What’s required now is a continued commitment from healthcare leaders in India to invest in these digital solutions to address the challenges their workforce is confronting. For example, Indian healthcare institutions can continue to invest in AI-driven solutions, to do everything from managing the flow of patients to smoothening the workflows that doctors, nurses, technicians, and administrators use every day to schedule appointments and treat patients.

According to the latest edition of the Future Health Index India 2023, an impressive 82% of healthcare leaders express their current use or future plans to leverage digital health technology to mitigate the impact of staff shortages. This statistic surpasses the global average of 56% and outpaces the majority of surveyed countries. Healthcare leaders in India are also opting for a variety of other technology solutions to ease the pressures of workforce shortages. Almost half are using or planning to use cloud-based technology (49%), critical decision support technology (49%), communications technology (49%) and tech solutions that connect with out-of-hospital settings (48%). In fact, while workflow technology is the least selected option, it is still seen as useful to 45% of leaders turning to digital solutions for workforce shortages.

In conclusion, the emerging trend in India of addressing crucial healthcare challenges through digital technologies holds significant promise. Collaboration between the government and industry is essential to implement both short-term and long-term solutions that prioritize the delivery of the highest level of care to patients in Indian hospitals. This concerted effort will not only alleviate workforce shortages but also enhance the overall healthcare experience for both healthcare professionals and patients, ultimately leading to a more resilient and efficient healthcare system in India.

Please click on the link to access the article: The Financial Express

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