India has among the highest adoptions of digital technologies by health and human services organizations

India has among the highest adoptions of digital technologies by health and human services organizations

According to the EY-Imperial College London survey, 75% reported that digital solutions have been effective in delivering better outcomes for patients and service users

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital solutions and India has witnessed one of the highest adoptions of digital technologies by health and human services (HHS) organizations among the countries surveyed, according to a new survey from EY and Imperial College London’s Institute for Global Health Innovation, "Embracing Digital: is COVID-19 the catalyst for lasting change?"

Based on a survey of more than 2,000 global HHS professionals in six countries (India, Australia, Italy, UAE, the UK and the US), including 359 respondents from India, the findings show that 51% of respondents in India have increased their use of digital technologies and data solutions since the outbreak of the pandemic. While 74% of respondents in India reported that digital technologies and data solutions have increased staff productivity, 75% reported that digital solutions have been effective in delivering better outcomes for patients and service users.

Gaurav Taneja, Partner and Leader, Government and Public Sector, EY India, says: “The response to the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that data and technology can make a real difference to the work of health and human services professionals in India, who have worked tirelessly and heroically in the face of this dreadful disease. With adequate government support and incentives, India has truly set an example to the rest of the world that it can lead and pave the way for technology adoption in healthcare. The lessons learned during the pandemic must lead to continued technology investments in the healthcare sector.” 

A success story with digital technologies and data solutions

While health organizations have historically often lagged in other sectors in terms of adopting digital technologies and data solutions, the response to the COVID-19 pandemic has driven a change in priorities. Almost two-thirds of respondents globally (62%) report an increase in the use of data and technology solutions, as the industry adapts to new ways of working under pressure. In terms of specific digital technologies and data solutions, the percentage of respondents using these technologies has more or less doubled across the board since the beginning of the pandemic; and mental health services are more or less equal to physical health and social services in terms of use. The UAE and India appear to be ahead of other countries in our sample, in terms of the percentage of organizations adopting these tools.

According to the survey, phone and video consultations have seen the greatest uptake across all technology solutions, with phone consultations being offered by 81% of HHS organizations (up from 39% before the pandemic) and video consultations available from 71% of organizations (up from 22% before the pandemic). Compared to this, the uptake has been higher in India at 86% for a phone consultation (up from 48% before pandemic) and at 83% for video consultations (up from 33% before pandemic). The public sector organizations in India preferred digital tools for self-help (92% organizations) and online self-assessment tools (89% organizations) over the phone consultation and video consultation. Also, in India, about three fourth of the respondents reported positive experiences with digital technologies and data solutions, leading to better collaboration and efficiency in the operating model.

Within our survey, the rapid development of the strategic plan for digital adoption, the ability to protect an individual’s identity and personal information, and improvement in service users’ proficiency to use the tools were the top enablers for greater adoption of these solutions in India.

Kaivaan Movdawalla, Partner, Healthcare, EY India, says: “The power of data that can be unleashed by digital capabilities is unimaginable, which can be consolidated, analyzed and leveraged for sharper intelligence and insights for research and development in the healthcare sector. For example, the Government’s National Digital Health Mission initiative, which endeavors to create a Health ID for every citizen, will bring together the distributed health information that exists across the health continuum and play a key role in advancing healthcare in India. Hence, it is this data which will be the bedrock of the healthcare system that will revolutionize advancement of products, techniques, diagnosis, and therapies for providers, med-tech and pharma players and aid any epidemiological planning.”

Key challenges in HHS and barriers to technology adoption 

According to the survey, organizations continue to face several challenges such as maintaining the safety and wellbeing of staff, maintaining access to care, operating within the budget, and managing workforce capacity while they respond to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Privacy concerns, ethical concerns about using digital technology, and loss of human interaction are some of the major barriers preventing the rapid adoption of technologies in India. Nearly 40% of the respondents from India listed ethics and privacy concerns as one of the most prevalent barriers significantly higher than other countries in our sample, with only 11% of UK respondents and 20% of US respondents, respectively, citing this as the main barrier.

Widespread technology use will continue in the future

75% of respondents from India indicated that they plan to further invest in digital solutions and technologies over the next 3 years and that the level of investment will be more than 50% as compared to the previous 3 years.

Regarding the future, mental health services are more likely to report planned investments in AI-powered diagnostic solutions over the next three years in India, at 81%, compared with 77% and 76% for physical health services and social services, respectively.

India has among the highest adoptions of digital technologies by health and human services organizations

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