‘Virtual Care’, is perhaps the next big wave in healthcare management that is emerging with the US targeting 2030 for realising some tangible applications.

Big data, Genomics, Personalised medicine, Stem Cell therapy and application of tools like Artificial Intelligence will drive dramatic developments in modern medicine that promise to tame many diseases, says David Hayes, Enterprise Medical Director (Provider Relations) , Mayo Clinic Network.

Virtual Care is the delivery of healthcare by harnessing the power of the Smart phone, Computer, tablet, apps etc. There are several efforts globally to develop platforms for reaching benefits of medicine to people, overcoming limitations of geography and physical presence.

“ At present the norm is Doctor will see you. In 2030, it could be the Patient is dialled in and wants to talk to the doctor”, says Hayes. Virtual Care can bring down costs of treatment down in the long term. Patients too can derive benefits of home monitoring the treatment, he told BusinessLine in a recent interaction.

In several developed nations, efforts are on to create platforms so that quality healthcare is conveniently accessible to people wherever and whenever they need. The goal is to reach cost effective, timely treatment, which is reliable too. Virtual Care is mutually beneficial to patients and physicians. Working professionals or the elderly can get the care and medical advise from their homes, instead of a doctor's clinic or a huge corporate hospital visit.

Citing an example, Hayes said, Mayo Clinic, the 155 year old multi-billion dollar healthcare major headquartered in Minnesota, US is working with Google to establish a medical platform, which will see the large resource experts of Mayo and its associates globally linked to help patients. Similarly, Mayo Clinics, itself is utilising its medical expertise and providing tele-healthcare services.

Big data analysis and exploiting the potential of AI will significantly change the medicine of the near future. Drug development will be accelerated with the discovery, clinical trials and feedback become faster, said Hayes, who was in Hyderabad to jointly announce that AIG Hospitals will be the first Indian healthcare group to join the worldwide Mayo Clinic Network.

How reliable is tele-health? This question is important in countries like India, given the infrastructure and other bottlenecks as well as developed countries too. In 2019, the American Medical Association (AMA) has come up with guideline for physicians to ensure quality in delivering Virtual Care. According to reports, the US is projected to face a shortage of a lakh doctors by 2030, which pushes up pressure in healthcare delivery by increasing wait time for patients

Hayes, a noted Cardiologist with contributions in implantable cardiac devices feels, the huge expertise that India has developed in medicine can be leveraged in the development of the cost-effective, efficient systems for Virtual Care as well as in emerging technologies.

Asked about developments in ICDs that can make heart treatment still better, Hayes said “Implantable devices have hit a peak. There can at best be incremental improvements. The future is machine to machine communication. More machine based treatments (Robotics) that can improve the quality of care.”