With a goal to bring in light the transformation of India driven by digitisation, Elets Technomedia organised a three-day India Transformation Summit. Dr Shuchin Bajaj, Founder Director, Ujala Cygnus Hospitals, addressed one of the sessions themed ‘How Difficult to Keep Afloat in COVID Crisis – A Possible Way Out’.
Quoting Lenin to describe the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, Dr Bajaj opened by saying, “There are decades when nothing happens and then there are weeks when decades happen.” He added, “The healthcare industry has seen only incremental changes but no transformative changes since the past many decades as the stakeholder were hesitant to take the plunge. However, the COVID crisis actually pushed all of us and we had no option but to bring in transformation.”
Dr Bajaj, further stated that India is a land os mass inequalities. He cited a few examples saying, “On one hand we are sending orbiters to Mars and using high-end technology, while, on the other, we fail to provide basic transport services aptly. Similarly, in healthcare, we have the latest technologies we have brilliant minds in the country but we are struggling to provide basic telemedicine services tp benefit both the healthcare provider as well as the healthcare receiver.” So, the pandemic has brought in transformative changes and post-COVID digital health services will be settling in as a readily available service, he added.
Laying out facts and figures, Dr Bajaj highlighted, “Since March almost 5 crore Indians have used teleconsultation service and 80 per cent of these consultations have been first-time consultations. Moreover, 40 per cent of these were from small towns. So we need to see what took us so long to implement such a service before, he added.
Additionally, he said, “We have 14 hospitals in four states of north India mostly catering to the small towns and we had been thinking that we should have a telemedicine service. This is because people are not willing to leave their village or town and come to our hospital and spend an entire day just to get their blood sugar under control or to see a doctor for dressing wounds. So, we wanted to start a telemedicine service but initially, many of us were sceptical about it. However, since the COVID hit the country and OPDs went down to almost nil then within two days we started the telemedicine service. And now we had done over 35,000 consultations as on July 11.”
Concluding his address, Dr Bajaj underlined a few prominent changes in the industry. He stated that the COVID has driven a massive change and with this everything is experiencing a shift. The healthcare economics is changing, hospitals are changing, the behaviour of the community has already changed. Besides this people are shifting to online platforms for medical consultations and reversing this behaviour would be really difficult. So, we can infer that coming times will see a transformed picture of the healthcare industry as well and online consultations will grow in number further, told Dr Bajaj.