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Med/Health Tech

Health tech a boon to Women’s health

Written by : Bhawana Yadav on Digilah (Tech Thought Leadership)

Women’s health is the most neglected sector, even after multiple attempts of bringing attention to it on different horizontal and vertical levels. According to WHO health is the culmination of the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being of an individual

A woman starts her biological journey from the onset of puberty, fertility years, and menopause, and till life continues. 

LevelUpForWomen, a women’s health and wellness-based startup working on the niche of reversing PCOS was co-founded by partners Chetan Arora and Bhawana Yadav. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a common endocrine disturbance that affects roughly 6% to 12% of women of reproductive age. The data is still insufficient as most of the women go undiagnosed due to several factors in their lives and the lack of PCOS-based specific scientific research and developments.

 The startup was conceived based on personal experience and lack of guidance by the medical fraternity for the initial years of bearing with PCOS symptoms. It is currently bootstrapped and is already on the profitable side from the business perspective. 

Technology has been a boon for women’s healthcare, especially in the post-pandemic world. It can be looked at from both the sociological and economic lens to arrive at the conclusion that healthcare and technology are a great combination for the knowledge and wellness revolution. 

In a research conducted by Mckinsey, they analyzed 763 FemTech companies (FemTech a term coined by entrepreneur Ida Tin) largely tech-based and enabled, consumer-centric solutions addressing women’s health, excluding biopharma and incumbent medical devices as well as the companies which included unisex services.

It concluded the beginning of the FemTech revolution and domination in public awareness and generating large-scale funding, However, the services were earlier limited to menstrual products, devices, and applications. 

New startups like LevelUpForWomen have proven to be a one-stop virtual healthcare and wellness platform. 

In our experience and case studies, technology in terms of social media has become a great tool for social awareness and probing to take an action even if you are sitting in the far remote corner of the country.

It does not just act as a catalyst and solution provider to the direct consumer but also a great medium to sensitise other genders and generations which have hushed over women’s reproductive health for centuries. 

In the post-pandemic world, the mental and physical health of women has undergone a major toll, being the bearer of family and trying to manage work-life balance has become even more difficult. The results are visible in hormonal imbalances, increased stress, anxiety, and depression cases. Women feel safer reaching out to judgement

-free healthcare solutions online rather than visiting traditional clinics where the approach is the same as it was 20 years ago. 

The FemTech revolution in the healthcare industry is still in a nascent stage and will take time to be accepted in Tier-2 cities with fewer apprehensions but it is the dawn of the future.

Women are finding a supportive community via these technological mediums and a platform to grow and heal and restore balance in their lives. These developments promise a tomorrow where health tech will not just expand the female consumer-oriented business but also provide an opportunity for groundbreaking research and growth for sustainable women’s health. 

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Thoughts On How India Can Leapfrog In Web3 

 

Written by : Ajit Padmanabh on Digilah (Tech Thought Leadership)

Introduction

For an entrepreneur and a technologist like myself, the potential of Web3 bringing in a Hardware manufacturing and R&D revolution in India, feels like music to the ears. India has long been viewed as a cheaper alternative for software services, an industry largely responsible for creating millionaires and scores of ambitious tech entrepreneurs.

Now, with the Hitech Manufacturing facilities being set up in various states, including Mysore and Bangalore, it’s time the world takes notice of India for their high-end hardware needs.

India – The Potential

India is the fastest-growing trillion-dollar economy in the world and the fifth-largest overall, with a nominal GDP of $2.94 trillion. India became the fifth-largest economy in 2019, overtaking the United Kingdom and France.

India is expected to overtake Germany to become fourth-largest economy in 2026 and Japan to become third largest in 2034, according to a recent report by the UK-based Center for Economics and Business Research (CEBR).

The Indian Software services industry contributes 8% to the overall GDP currently (from 1.2% in 1998), and is among its largest contributors. 

India is blessed with a demographic dividend – 60% of the 1.3Bn population being under 35 years of age. Compared to other Asian giants like China and Japan, India is in an extremely favorable position to chart out a growth trajectory for the 21st century, especially in tech sectors like Hitech Manufacturing, Semiconductors, Device Hardware etc.India has been striving to attract foreign investment across sectors and is steadily climbing up the ladder as far as ease of doing business is concerned, worldwide. 

India is also the second largest mobile phone market in the world, next only to China. 

The government is taking steps to boost local manufacturing through initiatives such as the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme for large-scale electronics manufacturing, Scheme for Promotion of Manufacturing of Electronic Components and Semiconductors (SPECS), and the scheme for modified Electronics Manufacturing Clusters (EMC 2.0). Recently, the announcement of India’s first semiconductor plant to be setup in Mysore at a cost of ₹22,900 crore ($3 billion), has ushered-in a new wave of focus on hardware across the nation. 

The semiconductor plant is expected to generate 1,500 high-tech and high-caliber jobs, and about 10,000 ancillary jobs, according to K.S. Sudheer, General Manager, Karnataka Digital Economy Mission (KDEM), Mysore Cluster. 

Opportunities in Hardware Development with Web3

As far as systems’ topology for Web3 is concerned, the visualization landscape is driven by VR/AR. For decades, VR has seemed like a futuristic dream that is just around the corner, but never reaches its full potential. 

This time, however, might really be different. Recent advances in the power of VR hardware, notably the headsets and processors used to produce realistic VR experiences, suggest that VR is finally powerful enough and cheap enough to go mainstream.1 It, however, remains clunky and heavy leading to a cognitive loss of immersion for the user. 

To add to it, multi-sensory experiences demand peripheral wearables like Haptic Gloves and suits, among others, further depleting the embodied cognition necessary for Web3 immersive experiences. In fact, one of the reasons for VR not being adopted mainstream is the weight and discomfort with the present HMDs (Head-Mounted Devices).

R&D Opportunities with Head-Mounted Devices

This is a great opportunity for India to shine with indigenous R&D that could not only look to reduce the size and increase the comfort of these HMDs but also price them so as to disrupt the global market. 

In terms of XR devices, a beginning has been made with JioGlass (Tesseract) and AjnaLens but complete indigenous technology across the supply-chain is still undeveloped. Some of the areas for R&D include assessment of the underlying optics technology in HMDs. For example, a technique called polarization-based optical folding is a way to design lenses so light bounces in the right way to the human eye so on-screen images are displayed properly—but the light doesn’t need to physically travel as far as it does in traditional optics. That makes the space needed for VR optics smaller. 

The other technique under consideration is holographic optics, an optics technology that “bends light like a lens but looks like a thin, transparent sticker”. Holographic optics replace glass or plastic lenses, making the resulting VR headset much lighter. In fact, these advances could make the VR headsets of tomorrow, with proposed designs less than 10mm in thickness. Meta is at the forefront of this research with large investments.2

Clearly, the stakes are high and so is the investment. It’s definitely a bus India cannot afford to miss. Timely interventions have already been initiated by the Govt.

Our innovative minds need to be brought together from multiple domains like Physics, Material Sciences, Nanotechnology, Neurosciences etc. across research institutes like IITs, IISc to help crack the pilot-prototype-fabrication-commercialization cycle. 

R&D Opportunities with Multi-sensory Peripheral Devices

Today, research into multi-sensory experiences yields peripheral devices for each sensory experience – Gloves and Suits for Haptics (touch), scent-based devices (smell) and gustatory (taste) devices

A person who wants to be immersed in the virtual world should have no cognition of the real world. In this case, however, the user is well aware of these devices clinging to him, thanks to their weight and design, thereby hampering the experience and the power of Web3, for the user.

The opportunity, therefore, is to look at an integrated multi-sensory device as well as BCI (Brain-Computer Interface) capabilities that can be leveraged to create a seamless, immersive experience for the user. It is noteworthy to mention that initial steps in this regard have been undertaken at various IITs, especially IIT Chennai (Haptics), IIT Jodhpur (Sensory Devices) and IIT Bhubaneswar. 

A Defense-Academia-Industry collaborative setup would help accelerate targeted research into design and usage of such devices. 

This has huge potential for India in terms of IP ownership, Manufacturing and Commercialization, on a global scale. The aesthetics and function of these devices are equally important. These devices should be disruptive and act as lifestyle products which could yield greater market access globally.

Conclusion

Some of you reading this article may have your own ideas/concepts. The need of the hour is to institutionalize hardware R&D for Web3 and execute it on mission-mode much like what India did with institutions like ISRO and BARC.

It’s time for the world to take note of India as a viable and necessary market and destination for hardware launches and cutting-edge research & development in hardware manufacturing and testing. India needs to set itself up and be laser-focused on the path of R&D, Aesthetics and Commercialization of indigenous hardware for Web3, to realize that leapfrog moment.

References

  1. https://cacm.acm.org/magazines/2021/2/250071-the-state-of-virtual-reality-hardware/fulltext
  2. https://cacm.acm.org/magazines/2021/2/250071-the-state-of-virtual-reality-hardware/fulltext 

 

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Digitalizing the Healthcare Industry with Blockchain Technology

Written by : Divinegift (soetan) Afolabi on Digilah (Tech Thought Leadership)

The healthcare industry is not yet ready for digitalization, but blockchain technology has the potential to transform how healthcare is delivered.

There are numerous potential blockchain applications in the healthcare industry, and it is critical to investigate all of them in order to fully realize the technology’s potential. However, let us discuss the TELEMEDICINE technology that has so far been used in the healthcare industry.

With the rise of telemedicine technology, more revolutionaries are turning to health tech to improve global health and well-being. Users can consult doctors and other medical professionals from the comfort of their own homes, thanks to telemedicine (be it in rural, remote, or urban areas). It has grown so quickly that everyone wants to have access to high-quality services.

Telemedicine has numerous advantages, including convenience, improved access to healthcare, quick response time, reduced workload on local medical personnel, and lower cost.

Benefits of Telemedicine 

Convenience is one of telemedicine’s biggest advantages. Patients are no longer required to miss work or travel long distances to see a doctor. They can simply log into a telemedicine platform and have a doctor consult with them from the comfort of their own homes at a lower cost. This is advantageous to everyone, especially those living in rural areas where it is difficult to obtain quality healthcare at an affordable cost.

Patients can consult doctors and other medical professionals via telemedicine from anywhere in the world, at any time. This means that patients in rural areas will be able to access high-quality healthcare without having to travel long distances.

Telemedicine also saves time, money, travel expenses, and time away from work. Furthermore, telemedicine is frequently less expensive than in-person care. This is due to the fact that telemedicine platforms frequently have lower overhead costs than traditional healthcare practices.

In light of all of this, it is clear that telemedicine is a game-changing way to improve healthcare access and achieve global goal 3 for all. It is convenient and inexpensive, and it allows patients to consult qualified medical professionals from any location and at any time using their devices. Telemedicine is transforming the healthcare industry worldwide. Consider what blockchain and telemedicine can accomplish together.  It would change how we get quality healthcare, keep health records, authenticate medications, and more.

Blockchain technology can be used to create a secure, decentralized platform for storing and sharing patient data. Streamline clinical trials, research initiatives, and the authenticity of pharmaceutical and medical supplies.

One potential application for blockchain is the secure storage and sharing of patient data. In the past, there has been news of patient data being stolen within individual healthcare organizations, making it difficult to share information between providers.

This has resulted in inefficiency in healthcare delivery and has put patients at risk when records are not properly handled and updated. Most developing countries now lack centralized, up-to-date, paperless medical information about their patients. This has made it difficult for organized bodies to obtain concise data or information about the state of health in some countries. 

To achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, it is critical to find solutions that can help to address this issue, such as the use of blockchain as a means to save and protect users’ medical data.

Blockchain technology provides a decentralized system for storing and sharing patient data. This would enable the healthcare provider to obtain any information required at any time and from any location. It would also protect users’ data, which would only be accessible with the patient’s permission.

Furthermore, blockchain can aid in ensuring the authenticity of data collected during clinical trials and research. Clinical research data must be used to determine the efficacy of a new treatment.

Clinical trials are often complex and time-consuming to coordinate, but blockchain can help to streamline processes by providing a secure, decentralized platform where clinical trial data can be stored and shared.

The part that most leaders haven’t noticed is that blockchain can also help with medical supply chain authentication. Many counterfeit drugs have been sold on the black market, posing a serious threat to the public. Blockchain can aid in ensuring the authenticity of medical records. 

By providing tracking technologies powered by smart contracts and nodes, blockchain can help to ensure the authenticity of medical products.

This would ensure that patients receive safe and effective medications while also assisting in the fight against the sale of counterfeit medications.

Building a solution that lasts longer is what inspired the creation of HellthGO, a healthcare adherence provider with the goal of providing quality healthcare services to all individuals at all levels.

HellthGO would be able to reach all parts of Africa with services such as telemedicine, where notable and qualified medical professionals would provide the best healthcare services to all. 

HellthGO, in addition to telemedicine, is a social commerce platform where individuals and corporations can learn more about health care, first aid, cures, and healthcare adherence from renowned tutors, raising awareness about maintaining a healthy lifestyle and creating a safe and healthy world.

To make it easier for everyone to afford and access quality healthcare, HellthGO has decided to use blockchain technology to finance our users’ daily expenses and savings through a decentralized wallet that gives users total control over their funds while rewarding them for adhering to a health adherence plan. 

This allows our users to transact in both fiat and cryptocurrency and connects them to the HellthGO transchain, where their data is secure and shared in a blockchain-powered decentralized ledger, also assess a comfortable lifestyle where HellthGO provide home delivery of medical product and services through our dispatch partners.

Speaking of other strategies, HellthGO, a health technology startup leveraging blockchain, has developed solutions that work and provide accessible healthcare through telemedicine and more technology built to reward patients for being healthcare compliant.

At least 400 million people have no basic healthcare and more than 1.6 billion people live in fragile settings where protracted crises, combined with a weak national capacity to deliver basic health services, present a significant challenge to global health (UNDP). 

By digitalizing the healthcare industry using telemedicine and blockchain, we will be able to achieve good health and well-being for all by the year 2030.

This is the driving force behind HellthGo, the leading decentralized healthcare adherence solution working to achieve universal health coverage by 2030. That is, everyone has access to quality healthcare services, allowing for a reduction in mortality and morbidity rates in most African countries and improving access to healthcare for everyone, regardless of gender, age, religion, political affiliation, or geographical location, thereby increasing life expectancy.

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Security & Privacy by Design – Health Data Management Policy

Written by : Sujeet Katiyar on Digilah (Tech Thought Leadership)

Every byte of data has a story to share. Important question is whether the story is being narrated accurately and securely. Usually, our focus is sharply on the trends around data with a goal of revenue acceleration, but we commonly forget about the vulnerabilities caused due to bad data management. Data possesses immense power, but immense power comes with increased responsibility. Just collecting, analysing and building prediction models is simply not enough in today’s world. Always keep in mind that we are in a generation where the requirements for data security have perhaps surpassed the need for data correctness. Hence today the need for Privacy by Design is greater than ever.

“Privacy by Design” and “Privacy by Default” have been frequently discussed topics related to data protection. The first thoughts of “Privacy by Design” were expressed in the 1970s and were incorporated in the 1990s into the RL 95/46/EC data protection directive. Privacy by design is an approach to systems engineering that seeks to ensure protection for the privacy of individuals by integrating considerations of privacy issues from the very beginning of the development of products, services, business practices, and physical infrastructures. The adoption of security and privacy principles is a crucial step in building a secure, audit-ready program.
Privacy by Design is based on 7 principles:

Privacy by Design is based on following 7 principles:

  1. Proactive not Reactive; Preventative not Remedial – Privacy by Design comes before-the-fact, not after.
  2. Privacy as the Default Setting – it is built into the system, by default.
  3. Privacy by Design is embedded into the design and architecture of IT systems and business practices
  4. Privacy by Design seeks to accommodate all legitimate interests and objectives in a positive-sum “win-win” manner not Zero-Sum
  5. End-to-End Security — Full Life-cycle Protection
  6. Visibility and Transparency — Privacy by Design seeks to assure all stakeholders that whatever the business practice or technology involved, it is in fact, operating according to the stated promises and objectives
  7. Respect for User Privacy — Keep it User-Centric.

Privacy by Design in Health Data Management Policy by ABDM

Consider data protection requirements as part of the design and implementation of systems, services, products, and business practices. The federated design of the National Digital Health Ecosystem ensures that no personal data other than what is required at a minimum to create and maintain Health IDs, Facility IDs or Health Professional IDs shall be stored centrally. Electronic medical records shall be stored at the health facility where such records are created, or at such other entities as may be specified by Policy. Electronic health records shall be maintained by entities specified by Policy, as a collection of links to the related medical records. ABDM shall issue appropriate technological and operational guidelines providing for the establishment and maintenance of the federated architecture, for ensuring the security and privacy of the personal data of data principals, and for maintenance of electronic medical records and electronic health records.

 Health Data Management Policy by ABDM

Prepare a privacy policy containing the following information:

  1. Clear and easily accessible statements of its practices and policies.
  2. Type of personal or sensitive personal data collected.
  3. The purpose of collection and usage of such personal or sensitive personal data.
  4. Whether personal or sensitive personal data is being shared with other data fiduciaries or data processors.
  5. Reasonable security practices and procedures used by the data fiduciary to safeguard the personal or sensitive personal data that is being processed.

The privacy policy referred shall be published on the website of the data fiduciary. In addition, the data fiduciary shall also make available a privacy by design policy on its website containing the following information:

  1. The managerial, organisational, business practices and technical systems designed to anticipate, identify and avoid harm to the data principal.
  2. The obligations of data fiduciaries.
  3. The technology used in the processing of personal data, in accordance with commercially accepted or certified standards.
  4. The protection of privacy throughout processing from the point of collection to deletion of personal data.
  5. The processing of personal data in a transparent manner and
  6. The fact that the interest of the data principal is accounted for at every stage of processing of personal data.

The privacy policy issued and the principles of privacy by design followed by the data fiduciaries should be in consonance with this Policy and applicable law.

Article by Sujeet Katiyar

Digital Health । Rural Healthcare । Regulatory Compliance । ABDM, HIPAA, GDPR, Data Security & Privacy Professional as Consultant, Start-up Founder, Director with 23 years in Web & Mobile Technology with AI, ML, Blockchain

 

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The Story of Love and Faith, Touching Lives with Tech where it Matters

Written by : Arunoday Singh on Digilah (Tech Thought Leadership)

“We used to travel several kilometres for basic medical facilities, and many times lost precious time at work and our wages but this medical Van which comes to our village now has proved to be a boon,” says Damyanti Devi as she deftly embroiders beautiful patterns on a shawl she is working on at the cottage industry she works.

“My husband had undiagnosed diabetes which was posing many health issues for him making him miss work, making it difficult for us to make ends meet”, adds Veena who works at the same place, “The doctors who talks through the ‘Television’ at the van in consultation with Para-medical staff on the van which reports the vitals to the doctor and explains the medicine & treatment to the patients, not only diagnosed it but have also treated it effectively and now he is leading a normal life and goes to work regularly”.

This is a heart whelming story of many in these rural areas of Jammu and Kashmir. Set in the interiors of the region, the villagers had to travel long distances to avail themselves of medical care. But the mobile medical Van by O-health, fully equipped with telemedicine facilities has changed the lives of people in these remote villages.

Changing Lives and Landscapes

Srinath, a construction worker who hails from Bihar, is working in the Kathua district of J&K, beams at us when we asked him about what he thinks about the facility. He has just finished his teleconsultation with a specialist in Delhi. He says he was suffering from fatigue and restlessness for many months but after this ‘Doctor Wali Van’ (Van with Doctor) started coming, his BP was diagnosed, and he is now well with regular medication and checkups. He says that with this Van people can avail affordable health care almost at their doorstep.

The telemedicine service provides the facility of Tele-Consultation with India’s Top qualified doctors and specialists who provide evidence-based care and boasts of having done over 8000 consultations till date. The state-of-the-art telemedicine facility by O-health has the facility to conduct clinical tests and supply medicines to people who are living in remote areas.

The Man Behind the Mission

Visioned and conceptualised by Arunoday Singh, a Biomedical Engineer with an MBA and MSc in Health Economics from the London School of Economics, O-Health is born out of Arunoday’s vision to bring accessible and affordable quality healthcare to rural India and take the best of medical facilities to the patients at the farthest of villages, in J&K, some of which are merely 01 km from Indo-Pak border, with Pak army posts clearly visible from camp sites.

Arunoday Singh has strived to serve the rural population of the country in a way that could bring a major positive change in their lives. Thus, in the process of striving to provide universal access to primary healthcare, he came up with the idea of this telemedicine Van, equipped with the best of diagnostic, pharma and speciality care which has now fast become the ‘Saviour’ for the rural population in these remote villages of the region.

“There is no denying that, unlike in olden times, there is much better road connectivity to rural areas these days but still these places continue to face the paucity and lack of good medical facilities and doctors at par with towns and cities. Most doctors wish to set up their practices in bigger towns and cities after having dedicated many years of their lives studying, but many of them also wish to serve the marginalized section of the society in some way” Arunoday said. “With the fast improving internet connectivity in the villages, digital healthcare can really make a powerful change in the healthcare landscape of rural India”, he added. 

This telemedicine facility on wheels allows O-Health access to the patients in the far-flung rural areas, without having to compromise their careers.

 “The main motive of the project is to extend healthcare facilities to the needy at their doorstep,” says the staff we met in the van, which is like a mini-hospital on wheels with all the facilities of a good clinic put together comprehensively.

The Challenge and the Solution

Rural patients are seen to be somewhat averse to new technologies, especially in healthcare, due to some of the reasons – paucity of awareness and knowledge about the technology, lack of trust on the individuals running the services and inefficient ways of care delivery leading to ineffective treatment outcomes. “It is critical to send an accurate patient parameter feedback to the remote doctor for a correct diagnosis, otherwise the treatment remains incomplete and hence, leaves the patient ill. We use high fidelity digital health devices like digital stethoscope, digital otoscope, digital derma-scope, etc to capture the parameters and images, to be shared with the specialist for accurate diagnosis leading to an effective treatment. When patients start feeling better after consultation, their level of trust on the technology shoots up”, said Arunoday.

Wheels of Change

Soon, O-Health also aims to setup a larger mobile van to cater to other remote areas with even more health services as well as plans to pilot a static clinic to position itself as a permanent care giver in the region. The service is fast becoming popular as lack of access to affordable and quality medical care is a huge challenge in rural India. This innovative Medicine Facility provides people of remote regions with easy access to quality health services and has worked towards improving the general health of the population in the area as patients can now avail regular diagnostic check-ups. It has also changed their perspective towards their health and well being, making them aware of the value of timely action and lifestyle changes when it comes to their health.

Committed to bringing a change where it matters, in the area of rural health, the wheels of O-Health move ahead with a conviction to bring a change in the area of the health sector in rural Jammu and Kashmir and there is no stopping them!

The landscape of the region seemed buoyant with health and hope when we visited it and people brimmed with a promise of newer, healthier horizons!

Currently, the service is completely free as it has been fully funded by a Public Sector Enterprise. We have examined over 8000 patients for free till date.

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HOW INDIA IS GETTING DIGITALLY LITERATE

Written by Rishikesh Patankar, Ph.D. on Digilah (Tech Thought Leadership)

The need for digital literacy in a country as populous and diverse as India is critical. The gap between limited availability of resources as against vast requirement could be addressed by use of technology. Technology can provide effective ways to scale up solutions and bridge the gaps. The technology and connectivity together can make a huge difference to the socio-economic levels of a community, and ultimately, the country, true progress comes from inclusive growth.

The Government of India has launched ‘Digital India’A programme to transform India into digitally empowered society and a knowledge economy. The Digital India programme envisages to ensure that Government services are available to citizens electronically. Under the ‘e-Kranti – Electronic Delivery of Services’, one of the initiatives includes ‘Technology for Education – e-Education’ under which ‘Universal Digital Literacy’ at the National level is envisaged.

I would like to share the experience gained in implementation of a successful Digital Literacy programme across India, led by CSC.

THE NEED FOR DIGITAL LITEREACY IN INDIA

The technology and connectivity could be utilized effectively for delivery of education, healthcare, citizen services, financial services etc. The true potential for these aspects can only be realized if all the citizens are made digitally literate.

The key is to have sustained efforts by harnessing collective energies, strengthening partnerships and leveraging them to pull down the divisive digital wall.

Digital literacy is therefore a key component of the Government’s vision of building an empowered society as envisaged under “Digital India initiative”. Spinoff effects of digital literacy especially in the context of rural India would address a number of socio-economic issues.

  • Rural population can gain immensely from the ‘Digital Literacy’.
  • ‘Digital Literacy’ would bring the benefits of ICT to daily lives of rural population in the major thrust areas of Healthcare, Livelihood generation and Education.
DIGITAL LITERACY GAP

As per Census of India 2011, 68.84 % (883 Mn) of population resides in rural India. The number of rural households is 168 million. 5.2% of these rural households possess a computer.

Computer Literacy (who can operate a computer) by age group in rural India:

14-29 years – 18%

30-45 years – 4%

46-60 years – 1%

In addition, a significant number of these households don’t have computer access and are likely to be digitally illiterate.

IMPLEMENTATION OF DIGITAL LITERACY

The implementation of the PMGDISHA Scheme is being carried out by the CSC e-Governance Services India Ltd. (CSC-SPV) which acts as the Programme Management Unit (PMU). More than 250,000 Training Centres have been empaneled under PMGDISHA to provide enrollment/training to the candidates. The Training Centres are spread across the country and are participating in achieving the goal of making India digitally literate.

In the years 2014 to 2016, two Schemes entitled “National Digital Literacy Mission” (NDLM) and “Digital Saksharta Abhiyan” (DISHA) were implemented with certification of 5.4 million candidates, out of which around 42% candidates were from rural India.

In February, 2017, the Government approved a scheme titled “Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan” (PMGDISHA) for ushering in digital literacy in rural India by covering 60 Million households.

Under this Scheme, as on 08/01/2022:

– 54.5 Mn candidates have been enrolled

– 46.2 Mn candidates have completed the training

– 34.30 Mn have been certified

TRAINING ESSENTIALS

  • Online Portal, Real-time Online Monitoring Tool for Analytics & Reports (www.pmgdisha.in )
  • Handbook & Multimedia content (in 22 Scheduled languages of India and English)
  • Mon-Sun, between (8 AM to 8 PM) we conduct online Remotely Proctored Examination System
  • Digital Signed Certificates are generated for all passed candidates. Digital Locker has been integrated with the system
WE COULDN’T HAVE DONE THIS ALONE

We had the support and capability of the below companies in carrying out this humongous task through their CSR initiatives.

IMPACT ASSESSMENT

3 impact assessment studies of the Scheme were carried out by:

  1. The Council for Social Development (CSD) in 2017-18.
  2. Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) – Delhi in the year 2019.
  3. Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA) in FY 2020-21.

The aim of the study was to analyze the ground level situation of the scheme with a larger aspect of continuation of the scheme.

The brief highlights of the impact assessment reports are:

  • PMGDISHA training has had a formidable impact on the use of ICT and other forms of digital media
  • 59% of the respondents stated that after attending the IT literacy training, their digital ability & confidence levels using digital has increased
  • Women participation is very large and their inclusion at the rural level will open the path for the learning of the whole family.
  • However, less participation of very poor and very illiterate was observed

We are very proud the Digital literacy drive continues in the country, aided with the integration, and help of NGOs and others under the leadership of CSCs.

Facilitated by PMGDISHA (Universal Digital Literacy for Rural India through Prime Minister Rural Digital Literacy Mission)

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Categories
Med/Health Tech

Digital Health Care – Fast Forwarded

Written by Vinita Sethi on Digilah (Tech Thought Leadership)

Far too much illness and uncertainty, and far too many disruptions have characterised the Covid-19 pandemic.  With the onset of new waves of infection and emergence of variants, we are confronted with the same question repeatedly – what’s the future of ‘brick & mortar’ healthcare delivery system, and how will we ensure the resilience of healthcare systems?

Each time we have been hit by a new wave or by reinfections, there has been a pause on visits to hospitals, elective surgeries get postponed and even routine vaccination schedules get thrown out of the window. All steps and interventions towards preventive healthcare or chronic disease management are first to be displaced or put on a backburner.

The only silver lining in all this, is the seamless healthcare provided through digital healthcare tools. The pandemic has compressed digital transformation timelines in healthcare to 6-12 months, from earlier estimated 4-5 years.

India has emerged as one of the biggest adopters of digital healthcare– nearly 80 % rise in consumption of digital healthcare services after Covid-19. Aarogya Setu & Cowin have achieved global recognition for contact tracing and streamlining digitalized vaccination processes for our 1.3 billion population. Start-ups and innovations that emerged during the pandemic, be it personal wearables, 24*7 tele-medicine, robotics and 3D printing, or process automations, AI(Artificial Intelligence) & ML(Machine Learning) based predictive tools, all have put digital on a fast track and are transforming healthcare like never before.

There is no turning back, as digital healthcare has improved healthcare outcomes, processes and is building more equity. Covid-19 has given us a moment to rethink healthcare in ways that will help us reach those whose needs and access issues were not being catered to earlier. India’s 900 mn active internet users by 2025, rising tele-density and increasing smartphone base, augurs well for digital healthcare apps and tools. This in turn should lead to more value based, equitable healthcare.

Here is an illustration on how value-based care will get a boost through digital health care modules. India has approx. 77mn people, who are diagnosed with diabetes. This has made India, the diabetes capital of the world. Usually the focus is on episodic acre and it is the patient who visits the doctor with an issue. Digital healthcare is transforming these mechanics and design of healthcare delivery. Diabetes focused apps can connect patients with doctors, give them regular reminders for medicine compliance, updates such as dietary or exercise counselling, at low cost and across geographies. This implementation of continuum of enhances patient experience and standardises outcomes, cost of care, and treatment delivery through a collaborative chain of activities.

This is particularly beneficial to those living in remote or rural parts of our country, where the doctor-patient ratio is dismally low- often just one doctor per 25,000 population. It is estimated that innovative healthcare solutions like tele-medicine could save India between USD 4-5 bn every year, replace half of in-person outpatient consultations, and reduce the cost by 30% less than equivalent in-person visits. Reduced waiting time, on-demand doctor availability, no infection risks, EMRs availability, have all increased the demand for digital health.

Digital apart from strengthening the iron triangle of cost, quality & access, will go a long way in streamlining the supply side- reduced administrative burden on providers, real time updated registries & repositories of doctors and other healthcare workers, availability of full medical history of the patient to consulting doctors, and better time management for doctors who can spend more time on patients. In the not-so-distant future, a software platform could emerge as the biggest provider of healthcare, creating a smart bed less hospital just as Airbnb has emerged as the biggest hotel chain without owning any rooms.

However, for the future of healthcare to be successfully anchored in omni, we need to bridge the digital divide. For instance, 47% of global population is not using the internet, & the cost of available broadband exceeds affordability targets in 50% of developed countries. Similarly, in lower income economies, only 32% of population has basic digital skills.

We need to address these underlying issues of lack of skills, connectivity, affordability and accessibility. Multi-stakeholder participation is the way out, along with upskilling healthcare professionals in digital tools, sustaining investments, and providing conducive policy support. Initiatives such as the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM)  are timely and will provide necessary support for integration of digital health infrastructure in the country.

What stands out most in digital health ecosystem, is that it empowers the patient, who can now make informed decisions about treatments basis medical history, lifestyle preferences and other factors. It offers immense opportunities to integrate continuum of care with insurance and pharma, and thus reduce drops offs in patients’ funnels from diagnosis to treatment. Providing digital health access and tools to all could go a long way in accelerating our mission towards achieving Universal Health Care, that leaves no one behind.