UK-India collaborations could significantly advance the Indian healthcare landscape

by Richard Heald

India could benefit from UK’s expertise in healthtech and fraud control to overcome the challenges faced in the implementation of Ayushman Bharat in the country.

Highlights:

  • Digital healthcare is provides a unique opportunity for UK-India collaboration.
  • Healthtech can help to address key challenges in India such as shortage of infrastructure.
  • Ayushman Bharat opens opportunities for academic tie-ups, research and evaluation, learning for big data analytics and fraud control, and knowledge sharing with the international community.
  • It is vital for UK and Indian businesses, organisations and governments come together to discuss the UK’s offering and identify the priority opportunities.

Healthcare in India has always been a space with ample opportunities for the UK to support. The sector is growing exponentially, due in large part to the increasing impact of technology – including the use of artificial intelligence, data analytics and digitisation of healthcare.

Digital healthcare is an inviting opportunity for UK-India collaboration because of the UK’s up-stream research capabilities coupled with India’s needs for improved healthcare. Consistent investment and development have made the UK a world-leader in healthtech. And India’s enormous population and growing healthcare requirements can benefit from UK support.

Healthtech can help to address key challenges in India such as shortage of infrastructure, trained physicians and nurses, increase in lifestyle diseases, and demand for affordable healthcare.

Last year, India launched Ayushman Bharat (AB) – the world’s largest government-funded healthcare insurance scheme that will benefit over half a billion people. It aims to provide quality healthcare by drastically reducing healthcare expenditure which has pushed 60 million Indians below poverty line every year.

In India, this initiative is seen as a game-changer by bringing revolutionary changes in the healthcare landscape of the country, particularly opening several opportunities for international healthcare organisations both in the public and private sector. Some of the key opportunities highlighted within AB are:

  • Augmenting supply: Investment in additional beds, enhanced demand for allied drugs, diagnostics and medical devices and PPP for district hospitals.
  • Improving the quality of services: Support with designing effective standard treatment guidelines, minimum standards for implants and devices and Telemedicine.
  • Fraud and abuse control: Big data analytics, fraud/abuse control through AI and machine learning, clinical protocols and audits.

AB also opens opportunities for academic tie-ups, research and evaluation, learning for big data analytics and fraud control, and knowledge sharing with the international community.

Not only can the UK share knowledge and best practices on all of the highlighted opportunities, it can also co-create in most of the critical areas around healthtech including telehealth and adaptive intelligence solutions that help to lower the barriers between hospitals and patients, improve the access to quality care, and enhance patient satisfaction. The UK has experimented with various disruptive technologies such as AI and the IoT and has proved that these can have a direct and immensely positive impact on improving the quality of diagnoses and treatments, making healthcare more economical and thereby more accessible, addressing a key need in India.

The UK is also one of the market leaders in fraud prevention and control through recent initiatives such as digitisation of prescription exemptions that work to ensure that public funds are entirely invested in improving healthcare.

India will underpin success by embarking on an ambitious reform of its Central and State level policies, regulation and legislations. And Ayushman Bharat will increase demand for pharmaceuticals. As such, India would benefit from the experiences of international partners in designing a regulatory framework for drug pricing, ensuring a sustainable and affordable availability of pharmaceuticals for Indian citizens.

Moreover, access to and transfer of data and data sets will be crucial for developing and training AI and healthtech to meet patients’ needs. Transforming India’s immense data cache into AI solutions will revolutionise the sector. A transparent data protection framework enforced by an independent and tech-savvy Data Protection Authority will maximise trust and enable the UK and India to work together to lead the world in technology and innovation.

Through sustainable UK-India collaborations, significant barriers to delivering Ayushman Bharat can be overcome including the streamlining and standardising of millions of healthcare records, training tens of thousands of new medical practitioners, developing and applying the cutting edge of health-tech to secure last-mile delivery, and so much more.

It is vital to ensure that UK and Indian businesses, organisations and governments come together to discuss the UK’s offering and identify the priority opportunities and challenges to overcome in Indian healthtech.

Richard Heald is the CEO of the UK India Business Council (UKIBC).

About the Author: Richard Heald