Download Screen Reader

What will smart healthcare be like in future?

Date: 18 December, 2023

Writer : Mst. Shabnam Mostari
Source : Bangladesh Post

Reading Time: 8 Minutes

18 December, 2023
Writer : Mst. Shabnam Mostari
Source : Bangladesh Post
· Reading Time: 8 Minutes

What will smart healthcare be like in future?

What will smart healthcare be like in future?

Imagine doctors coming to your home for appointments—how convenient would that be? No more hours spent in hospitals or clinics with an ailing body. Clear, accessible prescriptions and doctors are available at your convenience. It might seem like a fantasy, but could it be a reality? Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, this became a reality, all thanks to our nation’s doctors, healthcare workers, and technologists. When in-person medical care became impossible due to lockdown restrictions, telemedicine services emerged as a lifeline. Patients accessed medical advice directly from doctors through mobile phones. Additionally, services offering e-prescriptions and monitoring patient conditions via video meetings were initiated. Telemedicine also facilitates the storage and follow-up of patient information efficiently.

Alongside telemedicine, a national COVID-19 dashboard was established under the Directorate of Health’s guidance and technical support from A2i. This dashboard monitored real-time disease progression, identified high-risk zones, offered field-level guidance (including staffing and equipment allocation in hospitals), and helped in formulating high-level governmental policy decisions such as implementing lockdowns.

If during the COVID-19 pandemic, such extensive services and policymaking were achievable with limited resources in a short span, why can’t we attain smart healthcare now? Indeed, why not? This very question drove the initiation of the Smart Bangladesh Vision 2041, aimed at revitalizing the entire nation. A key objective of this endeavor is to establish an inclusive healthcare system accessible to all citizens. Hence, the shift from digital to smart healthcare is underway. But what exactly constitutes smart healthcare?

Within this system, healthcare provisions across the nation will be entirely digitized, covering every individual. Implementation of a digital health system ensures universal technology-driven medical care for all citizens, irrespective of urban or rural. Even those in remote areas can access expert advice and medical assistance from home. Access to high-quality yet affordable diagnostic centers and home laboratories will be facilitated.

Efforts are ongoing to train healthcare professionals in technology. Medical universities have been established in every divisional city, aiming to foster skilled health workers adept in utilizing technology. A Smart Bangladesh Task Force has been formed to guide the establishment of Centers for Excellence/Research and Innovation Centers. These centers will spearhead frontier-based research, fostering an innovative environment focused on artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, and the fourth industrial revolution.

The realization of smart healthcare is indeed feasible, and why the certainty? Bangladesh has already established a universal primary healthcare infrastructure, with one community clinic for every 6,000 people. This accessibility eliminates the necessity to travel long distances for primary medical care. Yet, the focus now is on digitization. The transformation has already started, transitioning from discussion to tangible reality.

The Damudya Upazila Health Complex in Shariatpur has undergone complete automation. Utilizing digital technologies, it manages doctor appointments, and diagnoses, and maintains patient health records. Many patients struggle to recall past medications or monitor conditions like diabetes or blood pressure across multiple doctor consultations. However, this health complex stores all patient information within an app. Through QR code scanning, doctors gain immediate access to a patient’s comprehensive health history. This innovation eliminates the risk of gaps in healthcare provision between doctors and patients.

Expectant mothers in the hill tract district of Bandarban’s Ali Kadam Upazila can access medical care at anywhere across the region using their health ID. Comprehensive health check-up details are stored on this card, ensuring paperless healthcare through the e-MIS system. This initiative has relieved health workers from the burden of carrying heavy register books daily.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, alongside the Directorate General of Health Services and Directorate General of Family Planning, collaborated with Aspire to Innovate (A2i) to launch the ‘Smart Pregnancy Monitoring System’. It aims to enhance healthcare and reduce maternal and child mortality rates. The system ensures ongoing pregnancy monitoring, ensuring the safety and health of expectant mothers and newborns. It stores diverse pregnancy-related data, offers essential information during pregnancy, and facilitates emergency services from healthcare workers when needed.

Health should transcend mere healthcare; it embodies our scientific advancement. In the pursuit of smart healthcare within Smart Bangladesh, every citizen should embrace the ethos of “I am the solution.” Artificial intelligence (AI) will complement our doctors and healthcare providers. Innovations in new medications,

health equipment, and vaccines will emerge. Balancing our local demand with global market exports is imperative. Leveraging technology, data-driven machine learning, and AI, our inventions will attain global eminence, garnering recognition under the ‘Made in Bangladesh’ brand.

We’ve already embarked on a successful trajectory of research and innovation. The Advanced Intelligence Multidisciplinary Systems Lab at United International University pioneered smart device development using Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies like AI, IoT, and big data. At the Department of Biomedical Physics, University of Dhaka, innovations like cost-effective ultraviolet room disinfection devices have emerged. A remote-controlled device, eradicates 99.9% of germs and fungi from water and air, notably reducing post-surgery infection risks. Additionally, a pressurized air-purifying respirator has been devised to shield healthcare workers from highly contagious diseases like COVID-19, preventing the ingress of airborne pathogens into the body.

Incorporating technology into daily life brings numerous advantages but also presents some drawbacks. The World Health Organization predicts that by 2030, depression, particularly stemming from screen addiction, will become the foremost non-communicable disease. In Bangladesh, while the prevalence of infectious diseases has historically been high, the incidence of non-communicable diseases is gradually rising, with mental illness taking a prominent role. Despite this, the infrastructure for mental healthcare hasn’t progressed adequately due to insufficient attention and societal awareness. Hence, in the pursuit of smart health, equal importance is being placed on mental health alongside physical health. The goal is to provide accessible mental healthcare for every citizen, anytime and anywhere.

Bangladesh government’s Health Economics Unit is actively pursuing the implementation of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) by 2032. UHC aims to guarantee access to high-quality healthcare for every citizen, irrespective of their income group and the time or location of need. Collaborative efforts between government and private agencies are underway to establish a UHC ecosystem and a comprehensive health coverage model within the country.

Technology, artificial intelligence, and data-driven healthcare are pivotal in shaping a future Smart Bangladesh. Personal need-based medications, a fully digitized healthcare system, preventive measures, research, and innovations are the cornerstones of smart healthcare. The primary emphasis is on inclusivity, ensuring that every individual across the nation benefits. This initiative also aims to bridge the digital divide and ensure equal participation, reaching even the most marginalized sectors of society through smart healthcare.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *