A 2017 Stanford’s health trends report clearly presented how explosively the volume of healthcare data is growing year over year.
Going back to 2013, the data generated was 153 exabytes (one exabyte = one billion gigabytes). In 2020, it is expected to reach 2,314 exabytes. This means the overall increased rate of data is at least 48% every year.
Another study stated that currently, about 80% of the health data is unstructured. So, almost all the incoming data is vague and unorganized. This unstructured data is a little more difficult to manage.
This comes in many forms like emails, files, audio, video, text and more. It is undefined, making it harder for healthcare organizations to analyze and make the data actionable.
This has made the workflow of healthcare organizations more diverse and complex. And, this will not get simpler in the future. If anything, this will only get more complex.
Of course, changes have been implemented in the healthcare sector to make the tracking and reporting process easier, but somehow the process is still disordered.
The image below summarizes the complex healthcare analytics environment.
Indian Healthcare Sector – towards Digital Transformation
To analyze and act upon a huge volume of health data, the Indian government adopted various digital solutions that transformed the way it is processed over the years.
Presently, the healthcare in India is among the fastest-growing sectors worldwide, and the government of India is aggressively planning to develop this further, converting the traditional system to a tech-based one, using technologies that enable accessibility of information, providing better connectivity and lower-priced treatment options.
At the same time, there has been an increased awareness amongst people through social media about technology-driven personalized healthcare. This has raised the patients’ expectations too from their fellow doctors where they can get all sorts of information in one place.
A report by PwC, Future of India: The winning leap (2014) added that the digital connectivity in India will be 80% in 2034, with the number of internet users in rural areas growing by 58% annually.
With this trend, digital health systems make sense in the Indian market as millions of customers are connecting with the digital healthcare ecosystem for the first time.
There are many health services apps available that users find easy to adopt for ease of access and reduced cost. According to PwC, there is a minimum of 450 start-ups in India that are offering digitized health solutions for people who could not afford this.
There has been a major shift in the healthcare sector due to immense data generation and workflow complexity, and technology has helped to optimize this ecosystem.
It has connected various stakeholders with healthcare providers and related industries such as insurance and pharma to provide information on a real-time basis for improved patient care.
But there are a number of challenges that are limiting the technology adoption in the Indian healthcare ecosystem.
Health record management: the design for trust
India has been a little slow to implement technology in the healthcare ecosystem. This comprises of large departments and units that rely completely on disconnected Healthcare Information Systems (HIS). Overall, the infrastructure lacks standardization and interoperability making it more prone to data security breaches.
The Indian government has proposed data protection law to improve healthcare delivery and protect patients’ data, but its effectiveness is yet to be seen. In the absence of strict and uniform regulations, the sharing of information between various healthcare stakeholders is not seamless.
Also, the medical devices used in the healthcare ecosystem run on public networks where no regulations are applied, and the data is not managed securely. This again increases privacy and security concerns for leading healthcare providers.
According to the PwC Health Research Institute Analysis (2018), only 55% of healthcare providers said they implemented security controls, while 37% didn’t even think to perform a risk assessment on their medical devices. Maybe, because they don’t know the importance of cybersecurity in a medical setup.
Cyber-attacks like ransomware can affect critical systems which can disturb IT activities that include data of patients. Other hacks may even damage the whole information system affecting the manufacturing and supply chain operations.
Other risks of not implementing security involve regulatory fines, brand and reputation damage, patient’s security breach, effect on patient safety, financials, and operations.
In 2016, the database of a diagnostic laboratory in Mumbai was hacked that leaked more than 35,000 patients’ medical records, including HIV reports. There have been multiple hacking incidents on the healthcare database, but no strict action has been taken so far to secure the data.
So, it is important to check how effectively the personal health data is managed in an age of data breaches, whether or not you have experienced a data breach.
Most healthcare organizations don’t have in-house security expertise and will have to find a security solution elsewhere.
There is a greater need for regulating critical personal information in India. If planned and implemented well, digital healthcare can make a notable contribution to India’s healthcare needs.
In the future, this will also reduce the overall cost and can help India in being recognized as the leader in adopting digital healthcare practices.
Read details in a report by Forrester.
Barkha, the Business Intelligence head, manages organizational workflow, analyzes company’s strategies and refines them. Strategic Consulting, including sales strategies, are her major expertise, and intelligent BI tools are her best friends. She is the bonding force of our team, who plans and regulates each and every step we take.