The future of healthcare is working hand-in-hand with technology. It is shaping up in front of our very eyes with advances in digital healthcare technologies, such as artificial intelligence, 3D-printing, robotics, or nanotechnology. Healthcare workers have to embrace these emerging healthcare technologies in order to stay relevant in the coming years.
Ganesh Prasad, Founder, MD, and CEO, GenWorks Health, he is a doyen of Indian healthcare devices industry with over 22 years of experience with healthcare providers, technology developers, and marketers to develop/bring in relevant technology solutions that can change the way healthcare is delivered in the country. During his 18 years in various leadership roles at GE Healthcare, he helped develop several brand new technology solutions with his experience and expertise in healthcare needs at the grass-root levels as well as build GE’s business leadership in India. GenWorks is a young, unique, disruptive company with a mission to serve the under-served Indians with end-to-end healthcare solutions that can usher in quality, affordable and accessible healthcare.
The mission of a “Healthier India”
Ganesh started with a mission of a “Healthier India” with the formation of GenWorks Health in 2015 and the disruption is helping address the healthcare needs of all under-served Indians in 635 districts at the earliest possible stage. “GenWorks is a Wipro GE invested company. It was started 5 years back to expand access to healthcare in tier 2 and tier 3 areas as we wanted to take technologies to every part of the country for affordable and accessible care. Also, over the 5 years, we realized a significant play in the metro markets. Leverage to making healthcare decongested since the mindset of our population pre-COVID was to visit a doctor only when there was a problem but now we need to have proper protocols with international standards for yearly health checkups,” he says.
COVID is an emerging challenge for healthcare
Ganesh believes that there have been extraordinary outcomes as people are getting aware of the need for healthcare. “We are of the ‘late treatment mindset’ that everything is fine till we fall ill. So now people are getting aware due to the pandemic, now they are looking at consulting a doctor first. But we need to understand that COVID care is not healthcare. It is an emerging challenge for healthcare. We can look at it through two lenses a) Communicable diseases and b) Non-communicable diseases, we thought that we are done with communicable diseases and the focus was completely on non-communicable diseases for if people do not take care, they might land up with emergencies,” he says “Even in metro cities we have ‘late care management’ mindset but since the metro cities have a fairly good amount of doctors and healthcare centers, bad health or emergencies can be managed but same can’t be done for tier 2 and 3 cities. That is the reason why they have huge stress because of health and end up having more number of emergencies. So healthcare over the year is important and would be followed post-COVID as well,” he says.
Digitalization for health
Ganesh throws light on digital health playing a major role going forward as contactless is the need of the hour. “For rural areas, this would be a boon as digital healthcare in the form of telecommunication, physicians, and specialists, will be available for the remotest of the geographical areas of our country,” he says.
Productivity has increased due to Work from home
With the lockdown came the restricted movements of the people of the nation. GenWorks which works closely with the frontlines and is in close contact with hospitals, clinics, pharma companies, etc had to make sure that the employees are safe thus; they kept going through work from home policy for all. “Before COVID, the sales executives would travel 12 – 14 hours in a day to meet a doctor only for 15 minutes as we would find it impolite to not meet when the doctor asks for it and many times it would happen that the doctor would be caught up in an emergency and cancel the appointment, but now with the appointments being online, canceling it due to various reasons is not an issue. In fact, in the last 4 months, things have changed; an 8–10hour work schedule which was not possible in the healthcare scenario earlier has become possible now. Due to this, productivity has increased for us as an organization. Plus customers are happy with the digital interaction as we can bring in more experts in the ongoing call, we can add people and make the meeting more fruitful. Because in the end, the customer needs more information, so doing it through digital platform is doing great and working for all,” says Ganesh, “Earlier, a salesperson was responsible for handling 3 – 4 districts now we have changed it to 1- 2 districts so that they can safely travel and come back home and overnight stay is not required.”
GenWorks Health is hiring
Ganesh mentioned that GenWorks health is hiring people who lost jobs and migrated back to their hometowns as they are unable to handle the expenditure. “We are recruiting people who are closer to the customer and can connect with them remotely. So it is working a lot for us during this pandemic,” he says. They are also focusing on customer training meets. “Pre-COVID a pregnant lady had to go to a diagnostic center to get tests done but post COVID things are going to be different, she will need to do things on her own for which the training is being given by us hence we are trying to create essentials for example, many maternity clinics do not support a setup for an NICU, so we are trying to create essential solutions for such customers,” he says.
Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana
Ganesh also throws light on Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, which is a part of the Indian government's National Health Policy which aims to provide free health coverage at the secondary and tertiary level to its bottom 40% poor and vulnerable population. “Ayushman Bharat is currently working on setting up more than 500 maternity clinics, while Bajaj Finance is helping then with the cash flow with the scheme of buy now and pay after a year,” he says.
Accessibility & affordability
Ganesh points out the importance of screening health every year by every individual. “In India, the steps are to get ill, visit the doctor, diagnose, do the tests, and then treat. This sequence is wrong, it should be – do a yearly screening, get diagnosed and then treat,” he says.
GenWorks health has bought in early diagnostic technique for tier 2 and 3 areas which were not available earlier. “A screening solution which is a mandate to check the hearing ability of a newborn within 7 days of life, but who is doing it? Another is for cervical health, which again is a big issue in our country, if untreated it progresses into cancer so early diagnoses is important to treat it in time, though it takes some time and gives lots of chance to be detected and treated, but women just do not complain. So we have bought in these cloud computing technologies wherein a specialist can be consulted remotely. For example, an ECG machine can be bought by anyone but not everyone can read the graph. So we have the interpretation data at the backend who will be able to read the graph and send the reports within 5 mins or give a call in case of any emergency. Technology should be to provide a solution and not make it complicated. So we have partnered with specialists for the telepathology, tele-onco consultation and the customer has to pay the fee. ” he says.
Awareness and access to healthcare at the grass-root level
Screening for a possible condition right at the first consultancy level or even earlier when a person is considered healthy through complete diagnosis and treatment. Ganesh points out that it is all about awareness and access to healthcare. “Now people have become quite aware due to COVID. The ones who never cared about their blood sugars, blood pressure or controlling wrong eating habits, maybe due to cost factor they never went for screening, but according to me screening should be done before one falls sick and now people have started taking care which is good,” he says. “A lot of NGOs, tertiary hospitals and pharma companies are also aware of people not screening themselves hence we are partnering with them to provide primary screening at a minimal cost of registration as they do in medical camp and the cost is bored by the pharma companies and tertiary hospitals. Rotary club is our one such partner for such screening camps,” he says.
Government focus on primary care
Ganesh believes that the Government should focus on primary care post-COVID. “Thanks to digital technology, we can do it efficiently. All we need is trained paramedics, trained doctors, and specialists and with this chain of work pattern we will be able to build the primary healthcare,” he says.
Need to change our mindsets
“We always like to wait outside an OPD even an hour before our set appointment time or take our families to the hospital for a single person’s appointment, but now we need to change our mindset and look to adopt different ways to consult a doctor remotely. Since we have been forced to follow contact-less everything since the last 4 – 5 months we need to adopt this going forward for our better health and of our family,” concludes Ganesh
(Edited By- Rabia Mistry)