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Journey Of Cathlabs to Interventional Suites In The Emerging Indian Healthcare Scenario.

Nitin Stephen Abel, Business Leader, Image Guided Therapy, Philips Indian Subcontinent   The evolution of the Indian healthcare ecosystem has been a mixed tale of massive challenges and growing opportunities. While, India, like many developing nations, has

Nitin Stephen Abel, Business Leader, Image Guided Therapy, Philips Indian Subcontinent

 

The evolution of the Indian healthcare ecosystem has been a mixed tale of massive challenges and growing opportunities. While, India, like many developing nations, has a sizeable chunk of population ailing from healthcare issues across critical areas like cardiology, neurology, oncology, orthopedics, spine etc., we have also witnessed encouraging trends and rapid improvement in healthcare delivery. Currently, there are over ten thousand healthcare centers spread across nearly 750+ towns and cities that are accessible to patients in India. The deployment of progressive health policies including Ayushman Bharat, Central Government Health Scheme, multiple state insurance schemes etc., coupled with technological transformations and digital advancements (Digilocker, CoWin, e-Health), have enabled the country to improve its healthcare ecosystem. The clinical outcomes for patients have improved significantly owing to several factors including increased awareness, early diagnosis, availability of accurate data, teleconsultation, and IOT enabled solutions.

However, developing countries like India continue to witness a gap between healthcare supply and demand. Therefore, the pace of collaboration between private and public healthcare providers with stakeholders such as patients, payers, policymakers, and health-tech companies will demonstrate how quickly the country can build better health institutions. The recent pandemic is a good example of how partnership can work to accelerate healthcare services in India, especially in the country’s heartlands.

These trends have also contributed to a major uptake in the image guided therapy (IGT) procedures. These procedures are completely safe (less-invasive/short-recovery) and provide better clinical outcomes in most selected patient groups. A large part of this success can be attributed to the way these digitally sophisticated products empower experienced physicians with clear images. Further, AI enabled smart applications on these products helps the operator tackle several disease challenges. A cath-lab is a good example where a physician can tackle multiple cardiac issues under fluoroscopy, which, traditionally would have been addressed by complex surgeries.

With the rise of IGT procedures in India, cardiac interventions such as angioplasties have become routine. Over four hundred and fifty thousand angioplasties are performed annually in India and are growing at a high single digit rate each year. This development has also opened doors for hospitals to expand minimally invasive procedures and increase therapy areas – not just in cardiology, but also across neurology and peripheral spaces. This improvisation to tackle major critical illnesses like angina/heart attacks, brain strokes, peripheral vascular disease etc. has helped reduce the overall cost burden in the healthcare ecosystem. It also frees up time for clinicians and hospitals to focus increasingly on other addressable complex procedures.

Futuristic cath-labs, also referred to as interventional suites, combine multiple advanced technologies to yield varied solutions than the traditional outputs. This approach allows catheter-based interventional therapies to expand their capabilities and reach broader patient groups with higher success rates. It also enables multiple specialty doctors to make the best decisions for their patients while protecting themselves and their patients from avoidable radiation exposure during X-Ray procedures. These additional clinical procedures in the interventional suites go beyond the traditional cardio and neuro/peripheral work, expanding into therapy areas including oncology, orthopedics, spine giving more viable options for physicians, hospitals and patients. The rise of C-Arms (mobile X-ray systems) in office-based labs and primary to tertiary centers has also added to the step up of this growing expansion.

Rising cost of real estate in major markets is a key challenge for healthcare providers. To ensure financial viability of these institutions, optimum utilization of hospital resources including space will be a critical factor. Therefore, interventional suites with multiple applications can provide a better return on investment by expanding treatment options for an array of diseases in the same premise through minimal invasive procedures. Such an approach can bring the right balance between economic feasibility and therapy expansion for healthcare institutions. Hybrid labs have become the latest to add these suites as they offer flexibility for physicians and surgeons to co-exist and tackle diseases through hybrid procedures. This approach is rapidly expanding in many renowned global institutions and may become a preferred standard workflow across geographies in the future.

Interventional suites can also be equipped with several aligned technologies like Intravascular Ultrasound, Fractional Flow Reserve, Optical Coherence Tomography, Electro Physiology 2/3 Dimensional mapping etc. to aid better and safer clinical procedures. Leading health-tech companies including Philips are working to deliver smart solutions using futuristic technologies like augmented reality in healthcare, fiber-optics technology for 3D-colored imaging, no X-ray procedures, tele-monitoring with precision diagnosis etc. These additions will enhance the ability of interventional suites to provide a solid platform for convergence of patient experience and clinical work.

While we do not expect AI enabled applications and digital technology interfaces in interventional suites to replace the offerings from medical specialists and staff in hospitals, but the treatment will increasingly involve such technologies in most of the clinical procedures. Hence, adapting to an interventional suite at the earliest is a suitable option for many healthcare providers and payers, to help equip the physicians to realize their vision for delivering quality healthcare.

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