The union of electronics and biology is said to be revolutionising healthcare, driving the growth of the global medical industry. In Asia, India is ready for better medical systems, but what’s keeping us? India Electronics and Semiconductor Association (IESA) hosted an event centred on medical electronics and the associated technological challenges as at the recently-held CeBIT India 2014.

The healthcare industry here—which grows at a CAGR of 15 per cent to reach ₹15.15 lakh crore by 2020—is developing together with the electronics system design and manufacturing (EDSM) industry pegged to be ₹5.71 lakh crore by 2015. Some of the driving growth factors are mounting population along with the increase of lifestyle-related health issues and disposable income. There is also the availability of cheaper treatment costs, and government initiatives aimed at medical tourism, among others.

The development of the healthcare and EDSM industries notwithstanding, we need special medical equipment to suit the environment, which is beset with a large rural population and infrastructure shortages. With limited access to healthcare, India especially needs equipment that will allow for telemedicine, remote diagnosis and low-cost treatment.

What’s pushing back the inevitable?

Technology is not very expensive if used for the masses, where IT will be the matrix on which healthcare will be delivered, said Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty, chairman of Narayana Health during his key note speech. “India needs 1 million doctors, 2 million nurses and 3 billion beds.” He pointed out that technology will not replace doctors, but that the engineers who drive innovation in healthcare can help a lot in delivering safer and more efficient healthcare treatment.

[In related news: LDRA sets up alliance for safe, secure IndiaEMS benefits from growing medical sector demand]

“Today, medical electronics is one of the important sectors in India,” said M.N. Vidyashankar, IAS president, IESA. He said that the requirement for basic healthcare is rapidly becoming a challenge for developing countries. While it creates enormous opportunities in the manufacturing of medical electronics, design challenges including shrinking sizes becomes more pronounced.

Vidyanshankar explained that 90 per cent of patient cases in India do not require a doctor to be physically present. This case rather creates a strong need for high-precision technology that cannot be achieved in isolation from other technologies such as nanotechnology, materials, power sources, sensors and micro-fluidics—which is yet another major hindrance for domestic manufacturing of medical equipment.

But instead of cultivating a local medical electronic manufacturing industry, a price sensitive Indian market coupled with the lack of regulation is driving large-scale imports of medical equipment. The IESA panel discussion, therefore, looked at the effectiveness of importing versus indigenous manufacturing and the growing need for innovation in equipment design and manufacturing in the Indian healthcare sector.

Accessorising for health

Mohammed Hussain Naseem, founder & CEO of 2mpower Health Management Services (P) Ltd. presented statistics that 80 per cent of death in India is due to unnatural reasons. This stresses the importance of physical activity.

He firmly believes that wearable technology is an emerging space with applications in health, wellness and healthcare services. They are completely non-intrusive monitoring of health vitals. It can be implanted in the body or put on the shirt, providing analytics and intelligence to alert, make informed decisions or predict an event.

Finally, when asked about the role of semiconductors in medical electronics field, Munesh Makhija of GE India Technology Centre declared that specialised consumer electronics and integrated functionalities are the way ahead.

LINK COURTESY: https://archive.eetindia.co.in/www.eetindia.co.in/ART_8800706667_1800007_NT_511ee9a5.HTM