Dr. Ajay Bakshi is the Managing Director & CEO of Manipal Health Enterprises, the corporate healthcare and hospitals entity of the Manipal Education and Medical Group, in India. Dr. Bakshi explained at the IoT Solutions World Congress in Barcelona that, thanks to technology, it is possible to provide healthcare on one dollar a day in emerging countries.
Life expectancy is today longer than ever. How this could change healthcare delivery?
In the last 200 hundred years medicine and public healthcare systems have changed the life expectancy of human beings. We now live much longer and the reason we die has dramatically changed. Infectious diseases like tuberculosis and pneumonia are not already there, but more and more people suffer from diabetes, cancer and other chronic diseases. Despite of life expectancy has increased and disease profile has changed, the healthcare model has not changed and that is a problem. Even today, if I have to see a patient with paralysis, the only model I have is the patient coming to see me in my clinic, and then I decide what to do. We have to learn how these new technologies can change the way we deliver healthcare.
How do we transform the hospital?
We will see more and more sensors, small devices attached to the body, like Apple Watch or Fitbit. Right now is early but in the next five years we expect these devices to monitor medical diseases like diabetes or high blood pressure. This information will flow through Internet of Things processes to doctors who will be able to make their decisions on the patient. The second part is that we expect to see more and more decisions made by intelligent systems like apps. By now they are more related to wellness than to diseases, but more and more apps and solutions have started to come in serious diseases as well.
In your conference you explained that Internet of Things is likely to disrupt the old healthcare delivery model in three phases over the next 10 years.
The first phase is monitoring. The second phase is robotic helpers, not like Star Wars, just very simple devices that can perform simple functions like moving food, medicines or linen in hospitals. Our vision is that more and more these robots will be customized and we will be able to buy them in Amazon. People aged 80 or older can benefit a lot from these robotic devices, because they can remember which medication they have to take, for example. The final phase will be the convergence of robotics and Artificial Intelligence. These robots will be embedded with some basic algorithms and they could decide what to do in a certain situation. We’ll see more healthcare decisions be made outside the hospitals in the next ten years.
Could you give us an example about the use of remote health monitoring solutions in Manipal Hospitals?
The best examples are already in the market, less in India than in Europe and US. A classical situation is when we have to do a bypass operation in a serious heart patient and we are deciding the patient. With these new remote health monitoring solutions the patient can have a device at home and fill the records of his metrics automatically every four or six hours, as I decide, and send the data to my device. Then I can be monitoring hundreds of patients, see if there have been some dangerous changes and decide which of those patients are or not ready for the operation. That improves the protection of the patient.
For those who don’t know, describe us the healthcare model in the Indian context?
The problem in India is we have poverty, large population and global diseases. These three things make impossible to develop a traditional healthcare system like you have here in Europe. So we have to find new solutions and the remote health monitoring solutions, like we use in Manipal, allow us to increase the public health level for larger populations. The deployment of these solutions at large scale can change the way that healthcare system are improving and it would be pretty inexpensive. We feel that Internet of Things solutions really can foster progress and make it faster.
You have also explained that Internet of Things is likely to provide a range of public health interventions in emerging markets.
Yes, in India, and in many other emerging countries, we have patients who can benefit from Internet of Things and health remote monitoring solutions. If we can take advantage of all the available data, a few doctors working in big cities, supplemented with technology, could provide healthcare to thousands of patients instead of a few hundreds. Technology is a game changer in these countries because doctors expertise can be spread out.
The title of your conference is ‘Healthcare on $1 a day’. What to do to get it?
If you come to Europe and some other developed countries, they spend 5.000-6.000 dollars a year per person for healthcare. The United States are an outplayer, spending between 8.000 and 9.000 dollars a year. One dollar a day means 365 dollars a year. Many countries in the world are not even spending 200 dollars a year per person for healthcare, that’s very global. Emerging markets have to use these IoT technologies to get more bangs for their buck and to expand the access to healthcare. For developed markets the benefit could be a reduction of health expenditure and to make easier to attend an aging population.
By Jose L. Cánovas