Health and Healthcare Systems

Health tech: this is how we harness its potential to transform healthcare

A doctor touching a white medical icon on a virtual screen, a health technology network concept

See how health tech can optimize global healthcare Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Shakthi Nagappan
Director, Life Sciences and Pharma; Chief Executive Officer, BioAsia and Hyderabad Pharma City, Government of Telangana
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  • Health tech is transforming and establishing a new health ecosystem with the help of partnerships between the public sector and SMEs.
  • Integrating technology is pivotal to addressing infrastructure, talent and regulatory challenges and to optimize the overall healthcare ecosystem.
  • C4IR Telangana explains its data infrastructure, policies and frameworks that are being scaled through a global network of C4IR centres.

Health technology, often referred to as health tech, is where technology, such as software, hardware and data analysis, is used to enhance healthcare delivery, effectiveness and outcomes. The advent of technological innovation in healthcare has had a profound impact on the industry. It is revolutionizing the way healthcare is delivered, improving patient outcomes and increasing the broader efficacy of healthcare systems.

The ecosystem is expected to deliver more speed and precision to address key medical problems and different public health challenges, as the market growth indicates a notable increase in the adoption of health tech. Now, the global health tech ecosystem is forecast to grow significantly to $504 billion by 2025. India, in particular, is expected to see a boom in its health tech industry, which is predicted to be worth $25 billion by 2025.

Health tech growth in India Image: Image created using data from Aspire Circle and TOI

With the advancement of technology, healthcare providers and businesses have expanded their offerings, beyond just adopting transformational technologies, by exploring their potential through innovations in the field.

Despite the lucrative numbers, health tech organizations face a downward-sloping demand curve, indicating a need to innovate at scale. 90% of digital health start-ups fail during the first five years of operation due to the complex regulatory landscape, technological hindrances or low consumer adoption. Building a health tech ecosystem is challenging because of a lack of skilled workers and funding, resistance to adopting new technologies, a lack of standardization and problems with data and security issues, etc.

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An enabling environment

The government plays an active role in establishing a thriving ecosystem. Some developed countries are investing in health tech ecosystems. Israel's health tech ecosystem has been highlighted as a powerhouse of innovation, with ~1,600 innovative health tech companies and over 70 innovation hubs. Boston has transformed itself into a digital health ecosystem, recently investing $250,000 in two digital innovation labs through public-private collaboration. The UK government has also developed a health tech ecosystem with data analytics programmes. Developing countries, however, lack regulatory infrastructure and are currently grappling with how they can enhance their health tech systems to meet the demands of an ever-growing population, conduct innovative trials and develop first-in-class benchmarks for the world.

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How can developing countries overcome barriers to developing their health tech ecosystems?

Recently, the Indian government has taken an active role in establishing a thriving health tech ecosystem. It is harnessing the country’s rich demographics, increasing awareness of quality healthcare and fostering a strong research and innovation mindset.

The Indian state of Telangana is a good example of this. With continuous technological innovations, the health tech sector in Telangana is now in a position to bridge gaps in the market and is poised to become the largest health tech contributor in the country by implementing various first-of-its-kind effective healthcare and health tech initiatives.

What factors are driving health tech innovation in Telangana?

Government initiatives

The state government of Telangana has introduced multiple state-sponsored incubators, including T-hubs, which is the world’s largest innovation hub, having scaled over 2,000 startups, nationally and globally.

An abundant talent pool

Telangana’s culture and opportunities have led skilled workers from across the world to migrate to the region. Around 45% of the total employed workforce in Telangana is working in the pharma, med tech and biotechnology sectors.

Having the 'best of both worlds'

On one hand, the state is home to 200 pharma life science companies and, on the other hand, it has the presence of a medical device park, with 55 companies ready to move in, and tech giants, such as Medtronic, Facebook and Google, in its capital Hyderabad. The proximity of the health and tech industry is the core driver of the development of the health ecosystem in the region.

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The government of Telangana implemented the following strategies to become a natural destination for health tech from which other developing countries can learn.

What strategies can other countries adopt to elevate their health tech landscapes?

Strengthen health data validation

A well-established and interconnected health data framework serves as the backbone for innovative technological solutions in healthcare. C4IR Telangana has been actively involved in creating a robust network of clinical validation to expedite the process of validation and testing of medical devices and technology.

Upskilling talent and development

The industry cannot leverage ready talent in the field of health technology due to a lack of employability skills, hands-on learning experience and industry-relevant specialized courses. Within C4IR Telangana, one of the main initiatives is to develop a highly skilled and proficient workforce to advance the industry to the next level and facilitate scalable growth through embedded apprenticeship programmes, internships and job opportunities, to ensure that students receive hands-on learning experiences in real-life scenarios.

Streamlining the regulatory processes

A well-defined regulatory framework provides clear guidelines and standards that help foster trust among stakeholders, protect patient rights and promote responsible innovation. C4IR Telangana provides an opportunity for industry partners to collaborate with global experts and set standard guidelines, policy recommendations and protocols for innovative study.

Developing a strong clinical registry

A centralized repository of disease information and patient health data helps enrich data quality and improve patient outcomes. C4IR Telangana is establishing a disease-specific registry with real-world data to ensure improved data accessibility and quality in research and development.

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Health and Healthcare SystemsGeographies in Depth
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