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Rural Healthcare in Digital Age - How Can Technology Make Healthcare Accessible to Rural Communities?

Rural Healthcare in Digital Age - How Can Technology Make Healthcare Accessible to Rural Communities?

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general

Rural Healthcare in Digital Age - How Can Technology Make Healthcare Accessible to Rural Communities?

By

Karthik KS

Nov 28, 2023

6

min read

Rural Healthcare
Rural Healthcare
Rural Healthcare

Effective and efficient healthcare is the fundamental right of every human - no matter where you live. But to more than 60% of the population in India, it might sound like a dream.

The healthcare sector is one of the strongest pillars of our country. Yet, it is not some hidden fact that rural healthcare in India is not top-notch. There is a lack of proper medical services, infrastructure, and skilled doctors. Due to this, the disease-related mortality rates in rural regions are high.

Improving access to healthcare for rural patients is a challenge. But it is not impossible. That is where technology comes into the picture. In the digital world, technology is not anymore a luxury but a tool for innovations. Those innovations avail proper access to timely and efficient medical services. The idea is not to replace the clinicians with AI or for robots to carry out the surgery in remote areas. The idea is to connect them to skilled people so that the right help is always available in time of need.

Incorporating technology in rural healthcare is not a one-man’s job. It requires a multi-pronged approach. Individual healthcare providers and hospitals must collaborate to spread their resources. Healthcare institutions must devise solutions to overcome staffing shortages and accessibility problems. Politicians and business leaders should make sure that providers have enough resources.

Rural India’s Healthcare Reality - Need Versus Feed

900 Million - a huge number, right? Yes, that is the population of rural India. But a massive part, approx. 60% of this bulk lives in the region of poor medical services. Rural India has 3.2 government hospital beds per 10,000 people. These statistics show that there is an urgent need for innovative methods. One that guarantees excellent and timely treatment reaches every corner of Indian villages.

rural healthcare

Rural People Challenges

  • Affordability

  • Accessibility

  • Awareness

  • Quality of Health service

Organisational Challenges

  • Distribution and reach

  • Recruiting skilled manpower

  • Tackling social issues and local beliefs

  • Creating awareness and changing mindset

The government of India has administered policies and initiatives. But due to the improper execution, their performance and efficiency are a big question. The lack of trained medical personnel is a big issue. 8% of Primary Healthcare Centers (PHCs) lack doctors or medical personnel. 39% lack laboratory technicians. 18% lack even a pharmacist. Absenteeism is also an issue.

PHCs and CHCs are way far from rural households. It means a heavy daily loss of wages. So, people go to private practitioners who are usually unregistered but affordable. India also witnesses a high maternal mortality rate in rural areas. Care includes family planning and prenatal care. But sometimes, it fails to include critical services like labour and delivery.

Why Rural India Needs Special Care?

  • Compared to the national average, the proportion of aged people is higher in the rural region.

  • Alcohol and tobacco abuse is a major issue among rural adolescents.

  • Rural hospitals are less prepared for emergencies.

  • Rural people have more mobility challenges than urban residents.

  • The incapability of purchasing proper food leads to diet-related issues.

  • The lower standard of living can result in respiratory diseases like asthma and tuberculosis.

  • People die due to preventable and curable diseases like diarrhoea, measles, and typhoid.

  • Higher unemployment leads to the unaffordability of proper healthcare.

  • Due to illiteracy and poverty, people sometimes ignore basic healthcare too.

Covid-19 pandemic made us realise how unprepared we are for emergencies. People lost lives because they could not find doctors, medicines, or even a bed in hospitals. Due to a lack of proper public healthcare, villagers turn to the private sector. But it is very costly for rural sectors and can drain all their savings.

Hence, there is no doubt rural health sector needs special attention. Availability, accessibility, and affordability are barriers to the rural healthcare market. Innovative tech and physical assisted healthcare models can address the issue.

How Can Technology Be the Saviour?

Now, more than ever, we are recognising the importance of digitisation. It can do wonders in providing social services and improving the quality of life.

Technology is not new in the healthcare sector. We have used machines and technology to diagnose and treat patients. So, what is new? We only used them for the patients who came to the hospital. But not everyone can reach there. Now, we need to use technology to scale the healthcare services to everyone.

With technology, we can reach millions of people dispersed across remote places. We can use it to diagnose them faster and with better precision. We can use it to improve effective communication between physicians and healthcare staff.

The convergence of technological solutions can improve accessibility. Data analytics, cloud computing, communication, and wireless technologies - can make a large impact. It can also help to handle the staff shortage. Technological integrations can bring the costs down, making healthcare affordable. Storing patient data and automating and scaling pharmacies are also notable benefits.

Telemedicine and Remote Consultation

telemedicine

Telemedicine is healing from a distance. It means using communication technology to diagnose and treat patients in remote areas. A simple example of telemedicine is video calling your doctor. Of course, by using a proper application or software. But it is not limited to that.

Suppose a farmer has a chronic disease and he needs regular monitoring. So, he will have to stay in hospital for longer days. Or he will have to visit frequently. Now, travelling to the hospital and staying there is costly. Not to mention someone will have to be on his side always. So instead, someone from the local PHC can come and take his required reports. Reports are then digitally sent to the doctor. The doctor from the hospital can review them continue the treatment as required.

This way, one can save money and time and never miss a visit. There are certain helpline numbers where experts can answer the questions of people. This way, people can avoid visiting secondary health centres for minor problems. Telemedicine can also take care of post-surgery follow-up, dental or mental healthcare.

To execute telemedicine at a large scale, we need to form public-private partnerships. A recent PPP entered into by Apollo Tele-Health Center is one such arrangement.

Healthcare at Home and for the Elderly

Younger couples sometimes have to migrate to other cities because of their workplace. So, the elderly parents live alone in rural areas. India has not adopted the concept of nursing facilities yet. So, home care services are becoming more popular. They have to serve hundreds of houses across various locations. Hence, technology is critical to maintain and track service.

Technology like VR(Virtual Reality) can train nurses. Technology can also reduce the need for documentation work. Remote monitoring devices take medical reports and regularly forward them to clinicians. It helps avoid unnecessary complications and emergency room visits.

Let AI Diagnose It

Doctors might not be able to reach everywhere, but technology can. Early detection of disease can prevent the need for rigorous treatment and loss of life. Automated medical image diagnosis can overcome the issue of limited infrastructure. Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning help in analysing medical images and reports.

Let us take an example. Diabetic Retinopathy is a chronic diabetic complication that affects one-third of diabetic patients. It can lead to irreversible blindness. It is a major problem among Indians. But if diagnosed early, complete treatment is possible. The problem is that the number of skilled doctors who can read the scan and diagnose it is less.

So, instead, we can have an AI model in which we will give scans as input, and it can diagnose how bad it is. While doctors can focus on the treatment. AI models can also diagnose other severe diseases.

Health Kiosk or Health ATM

A health kiosk is a solution to address the dearth of trained medical staff in rural areas. We can install a kiosk in a PHC. The Point of Care testing devices integrated with the ICT platform. It can conduct a full-body checkup. It can have all the basic checkup devices - HB analyser, BP machine, ECG, glucometer, pulse oximeter, digital stethoscope, infrared thermometer, so on.

The kiosk can store and pass on the medical information to the concerned doctor. If necessary, with a call scheduling facility patient and doctor can have a chat. The kiosk will only need one person to manage it.

The Digital Landscape of Rural India

ICT has a critical role to play in the country's socio-economic development. Especially by empowering individuals and closing the rural-urban divide. It can help meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The ICT landscape has shifted over the last several years. Earlier it was only a simple means of communication. But, today, it is a seamless platform for a variety of personal, professional, and social purposes.

Despite several attempts, rural India's ICT services have faced a variety of challenges. Lack of infrastructure, fundamental knowledge, and awareness are a few of them. Also, high-cost connectivity and user-friendly technology are required. But, ICT, when combined with a vision and continuous efforts can do wonders in rural India. Not only in healthcare, but it can also empower Rural India by transforming them into smarter villages.

Conclusion

Affordability of treatment and diagnostics and concern in rural India. Indigenous manufacturing of medical equipment, medicines, and surgical instruments can solve the issue. Hospitals and research institutes may collaborate to create cheap medical products.

Technology can make massive improvements in the current rural healthcare model. It can improve accessibility, affordability, and availability of good health services. Of course, we cannot overlook issues of connectivity and infrastructure. But these problems will be solved at a faster pace. In the next two decades, the rural medical landscape will be entirely different from what it is today.

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Mr Karthikeyan

Written by

Karthikeyan Ravi

AVP – Technology

Karthikeyan Ravi, a vanguard in IT infrastructure, wields 16 years of experience across Networking, Cloud, and IoT. Specializing in LAN, WAN, Security Firewalls, and Mobility Solutions, he’s engineered pivotal projects, solidifying his stature as a tech savant.

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general

Rural Healthcare in Digital Age - How Can Technology Make Healthcare Accessible to Rural Communities?

BY

Karthik KS

Nov 28, 2023

6

min read

Rural Healthcare
Rural Healthcare

Effective and efficient healthcare is the fundamental right of every human - no matter where you live. But to more than 60% of the population in India, it might sound like a dream.

The healthcare sector is one of the strongest pillars of our country. Yet, it is not some hidden fact that rural healthcare in India is not top-notch. There is a lack of proper medical services, infrastructure, and skilled doctors. Due to this, the disease-related mortality rates in rural regions are high.

Improving access to healthcare for rural patients is a challenge. But it is not impossible. That is where technology comes into the picture. In the digital world, technology is not anymore a luxury but a tool for innovations. Those innovations avail proper access to timely and efficient medical services. The idea is not to replace the clinicians with AI or for robots to carry out the surgery in remote areas. The idea is to connect them to skilled people so that the right help is always available in time of need.

Incorporating technology in rural healthcare is not a one-man’s job. It requires a multi-pronged approach. Individual healthcare providers and hospitals must collaborate to spread their resources. Healthcare institutions must devise solutions to overcome staffing shortages and accessibility problems. Politicians and business leaders should make sure that providers have enough resources.

Rural India’s Healthcare Reality - Need Versus Feed

900 Million - a huge number, right? Yes, that is the population of rural India. But a massive part, approx. 60% of this bulk lives in the region of poor medical services. Rural India has 3.2 government hospital beds per 10,000 people. These statistics show that there is an urgent need for innovative methods. One that guarantees excellent and timely treatment reaches every corner of Indian villages.

rural healthcare

Rural People Challenges

  • Affordability

  • Accessibility

  • Awareness

  • Quality of Health service

Organisational Challenges

  • Distribution and reach

  • Recruiting skilled manpower

  • Tackling social issues and local beliefs

  • Creating awareness and changing mindset

The government of India has administered policies and initiatives. But due to the improper execution, their performance and efficiency are a big question. The lack of trained medical personnel is a big issue. 8% of Primary Healthcare Centers (PHCs) lack doctors or medical personnel. 39% lack laboratory technicians. 18% lack even a pharmacist. Absenteeism is also an issue.

PHCs and CHCs are way far from rural households. It means a heavy daily loss of wages. So, people go to private practitioners who are usually unregistered but affordable. India also witnesses a high maternal mortality rate in rural areas. Care includes family planning and prenatal care. But sometimes, it fails to include critical services like labour and delivery.

Why Rural India Needs Special Care?

  • Compared to the national average, the proportion of aged people is higher in the rural region.

  • Alcohol and tobacco abuse is a major issue among rural adolescents.

  • Rural hospitals are less prepared for emergencies.

  • Rural people have more mobility challenges than urban residents.

  • The incapability of purchasing proper food leads to diet-related issues.

  • The lower standard of living can result in respiratory diseases like asthma and tuberculosis.

  • People die due to preventable and curable diseases like diarrhoea, measles, and typhoid.

  • Higher unemployment leads to the unaffordability of proper healthcare.

  • Due to illiteracy and poverty, people sometimes ignore basic healthcare too.

Covid-19 pandemic made us realise how unprepared we are for emergencies. People lost lives because they could not find doctors, medicines, or even a bed in hospitals. Due to a lack of proper public healthcare, villagers turn to the private sector. But it is very costly for rural sectors and can drain all their savings.

Hence, there is no doubt rural health sector needs special attention. Availability, accessibility, and affordability are barriers to the rural healthcare market. Innovative tech and physical assisted healthcare models can address the issue.

How Can Technology Be the Saviour?

Now, more than ever, we are recognising the importance of digitisation. It can do wonders in providing social services and improving the quality of life.

Technology is not new in the healthcare sector. We have used machines and technology to diagnose and treat patients. So, what is new? We only used them for the patients who came to the hospital. But not everyone can reach there. Now, we need to use technology to scale the healthcare services to everyone.

With technology, we can reach millions of people dispersed across remote places. We can use it to diagnose them faster and with better precision. We can use it to improve effective communication between physicians and healthcare staff.

The convergence of technological solutions can improve accessibility. Data analytics, cloud computing, communication, and wireless technologies - can make a large impact. It can also help to handle the staff shortage. Technological integrations can bring the costs down, making healthcare affordable. Storing patient data and automating and scaling pharmacies are also notable benefits.

Telemedicine and Remote Consultation

telemedicine

Telemedicine is healing from a distance. It means using communication technology to diagnose and treat patients in remote areas. A simple example of telemedicine is video calling your doctor. Of course, by using a proper application or software. But it is not limited to that.

Suppose a farmer has a chronic disease and he needs regular monitoring. So, he will have to stay in hospital for longer days. Or he will have to visit frequently. Now, travelling to the hospital and staying there is costly. Not to mention someone will have to be on his side always. So instead, someone from the local PHC can come and take his required reports. Reports are then digitally sent to the doctor. The doctor from the hospital can review them continue the treatment as required.

This way, one can save money and time and never miss a visit. There are certain helpline numbers where experts can answer the questions of people. This way, people can avoid visiting secondary health centres for minor problems. Telemedicine can also take care of post-surgery follow-up, dental or mental healthcare.

To execute telemedicine at a large scale, we need to form public-private partnerships. A recent PPP entered into by Apollo Tele-Health Center is one such arrangement.

Healthcare at Home and for the Elderly

Younger couples sometimes have to migrate to other cities because of their workplace. So, the elderly parents live alone in rural areas. India has not adopted the concept of nursing facilities yet. So, home care services are becoming more popular. They have to serve hundreds of houses across various locations. Hence, technology is critical to maintain and track service.

Technology like VR(Virtual Reality) can train nurses. Technology can also reduce the need for documentation work. Remote monitoring devices take medical reports and regularly forward them to clinicians. It helps avoid unnecessary complications and emergency room visits.

Let AI Diagnose It

Doctors might not be able to reach everywhere, but technology can. Early detection of disease can prevent the need for rigorous treatment and loss of life. Automated medical image diagnosis can overcome the issue of limited infrastructure. Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning help in analysing medical images and reports.

Let us take an example. Diabetic Retinopathy is a chronic diabetic complication that affects one-third of diabetic patients. It can lead to irreversible blindness. It is a major problem among Indians. But if diagnosed early, complete treatment is possible. The problem is that the number of skilled doctors who can read the scan and diagnose it is less.

So, instead, we can have an AI model in which we will give scans as input, and it can diagnose how bad it is. While doctors can focus on the treatment. AI models can also diagnose other severe diseases.

Health Kiosk or Health ATM

A health kiosk is a solution to address the dearth of trained medical staff in rural areas. We can install a kiosk in a PHC. The Point of Care testing devices integrated with the ICT platform. It can conduct a full-body checkup. It can have all the basic checkup devices - HB analyser, BP machine, ECG, glucometer, pulse oximeter, digital stethoscope, infrared thermometer, so on.

The kiosk can store and pass on the medical information to the concerned doctor. If necessary, with a call scheduling facility patient and doctor can have a chat. The kiosk will only need one person to manage it.

The Digital Landscape of Rural India

ICT has a critical role to play in the country's socio-economic development. Especially by empowering individuals and closing the rural-urban divide. It can help meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The ICT landscape has shifted over the last several years. Earlier it was only a simple means of communication. But, today, it is a seamless platform for a variety of personal, professional, and social purposes.

Despite several attempts, rural India's ICT services have faced a variety of challenges. Lack of infrastructure, fundamental knowledge, and awareness are a few of them. Also, high-cost connectivity and user-friendly technology are required. But, ICT, when combined with a vision and continuous efforts can do wonders in rural India. Not only in healthcare, but it can also empower Rural India by transforming them into smarter villages.

Conclusion

Affordability of treatment and diagnostics and concern in rural India. Indigenous manufacturing of medical equipment, medicines, and surgical instruments can solve the issue. Hospitals and research institutes may collaborate to create cheap medical products.

Technology can make massive improvements in the current rural healthcare model. It can improve accessibility, affordability, and availability of good health services. Of course, we cannot overlook issues of connectivity and infrastructure. But these problems will be solved at a faster pace. In the next two decades, the rural medical landscape will be entirely different from what it is today.

Linkedin
Mr Karthikeyan
Mr Karthikeyan

Written by

Karthikeyan Ravi

AVP – Technology

Karthikeyan Ravi, a vanguard in IT infrastructure, wields 16 years of experience across Networking, Cloud, and IoT. Specializing in LAN, WAN, Security Firewalls, and Mobility Solutions, he’s engineered pivotal projects, solidifying his stature as a tech savant.

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Forward together means questioning the status quo. Disrupt. Innovate. Break it, then build it better. We're not passengers; we're the engineers of tomorrow's tech landscape.

Forward together means embracing the collective. Relationships power our servers and drive our solutions. Your wins are our wins, your challenges beckon our brilliance. Collaboration isn't a method; it's our lifeforce.

Forward together, we carry the mantle of sustainability. We don't just occupy space on this Earth; we vow to leave it better. Eco-ethical codes aren't buzzwords; they're in our codebase.

Strive, but never alone. Reach, but always in tandem. At the crossroads of passion and profession, you'll find balance. You'll find life.

When the trek gets tough, lean on the fortitude of the collective. Seek inspiration in our shared purpose, find courage in our unified resolve.

You're no mere employee; you're the next chapter in a storied lineage. You are Netcon. You are the manifesto. So, carry these words. Let them guide, let them ignite.

Forward Together. Welcome to the vanguard of change. Your mission begins now. Welcome to Netcon.

Enter the fold
Subscribe to our newsletter

© Copyright 2024 Netcon Technologies. All rights reserved. All logos and trademarks used belong to their respective owners.

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Contact

Email : info@netcon.in

Phone : +91 99524 00291

Social

linkedin
linkedin

Others

IPs & Accelerators

Foward

Together.

Forward together means questioning the status quo. Disrupt. Innovate. Break it, then build it better. We're not passengers; we're the engineers of tomorrow's tech landscape.

Forward together means embracing the collective. Relationships power our servers and drive our solutions. Your wins are our wins, your challenges beckon our brilliance. Collaboration isn't a method; it's our lifeforce.

Forward together, we carry the mantle of sustainability. We don't just occupy space on this Earth; we vow to leave it better. Eco-ethical codes aren't buzzwords; they're in our codebase.

Strive, but never alone. Reach, but always in tandem. At the crossroads of passion and profession, you'll find balance. You'll find life.

When the trek gets tough, lean on the fortitude of the collective. Seek inspiration in our shared purpose, find courage in our unified resolve.

You're no mere employee; you're the next chapter in a storied lineage. You are Netcon. You are the manifesto. So, carry these words. Let them guide, let them ignite.

Forward Together. Welcome to the vanguard of change. Your mission begins now. Welcome to Netcon.

Enter the fold
Subscribe to our newsletter

© Copyright 2024 Netcon Technologies. All rights reserved. All logos and trademarks used belong to their respective owners.