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Masterclass: Making healthcare smarter

With the advent of technology, healthcare has become easier, better, and far more effective. But are there any more gaps to bridge? Can the further use of digital mediums connect a disconnected healthcare system?

These pertinent questions were answered by Harsh Vardhan, VP – Software Engineering, Optum Global Solutions India, as part of his masterclass ‘Making healthcare smarter’ at TechSparks 2022 in Bengaluru.

The healthcare ecosystem

Harsh kickstarted the masterclass by elaborating on the mission of his company and how they are consistently working towards making healthcare more accessible and affordable for patients.

“Our mission is helping people live healthier lives and helping make the system work better for everyone,” he added.

He moved on to setting the context of the healthcare industry in the US, which is in certain ways similar to workings in India. Shedding light on patient population and cost breakdowns, Harsh shared relevant insights, including how people with complex health needs have healthcare costs more than 4X the national average. Moreover, the disparities amount to nearly $93 billion in excess medical care costs and $42 billion in lost productivity per year.

Harsh also believes that the engagement perspective must also be considered in healthcare.

Citing a common example, he shared how heading to a mall for shopping happens when we are in a pleasant state of mind, but that’s not the case with healthcare.

“When you are at your lowest and need healthcare, you look for a better experience. You need people who are smart to respond quickly to the need of the hour,” he shared.

Digital solutions across the continuum of health

Harsh segregated patients into buckets – there are some who have wellness needs, and others fall into the low-risk chronic category and require disease management. There’s another set that has intense needs and care management is crucial for them.

The solution here is a member-centric clinic system. This essentially means having an end-to-end digital ecosystem with connected experience that leverages real-time health data and other clinical sources to deliver a smarter, more personalised healthcare experience to our members and providers.

“Start with knowing your members. It’s not easy at all from a tech perspective, but it’s all about how to offer them some clinical solutions, keeping them at the centre. In this journey, we are trying to figure out how patients can do a virtual first and then explain more. The purpose is to digitise things pre-visit,” he shared, adding that the shift today is about bringing the healthcare ecosystem to your home.

What’s more, COVID-19 has pushed the envelope and people are gradually becoming more receptive. The market is projected to reach a little more than $8.3 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 36.35 percent from 2017 to 2025, which means there is tremendous potential across the globe.

Harsha concluded the masterclass by bringing everyone’s attention to healthcare in the metaverse that can be defined by virtual care and virtual clinics. He elaborated on how AR can help to augment operations like knee replacement surgeries. Overall, virtual clinics and hospitals are the way forward – and are likely to reinforce the healthcare setup at home in the future.

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