The impact of disruptive technology on healthcare in developed versus developing nations

What to know:

Disruptive technologies continue to be introduced by medtech companies in an effort to address the unique needs of both developed and developing countries. In the developing world, technology is helping rural populations access care and to assist in locating new healthcare facilities. In developed nations, the wealth of patient data is being used to improve prevention efforts and to reduce care costs. Regardless of development level, digital solutions are also being used to increase the transparency of drug and device approvals.

In India, for example, the majority of the country’s population resides in rural areas far from large medical centers. To improve accessibility, which presents a major challenge in this country, many local clinics have turned to telehealth options such as eICU, a program operated by Philips that combines A/V technology, predictive analytics, data visualization, and advanced reporting capabilities to provide centralized, remote surveillance of patients by skilled providers. This disruptive technology helps reduce interhospital transfers and associated risks.

Also in India, providers are relying more on geospatial intelligence to stratify healthcare risk based on geography, providing a potentially more informed way to plan the locations of new healthcare centers. Many districts have also begun using e-Hospital, an initiative that provides more accountable and transparent services to the population. It is a workflow-based application that integrates modalities from online registration to accessing Electronic Health Records (EHR), facilitating greater usability for patients.

In the U.S., patient care has progressively become more personalized with a focus on prevention. For example, there are a host of health monitors that collect and deliver information to physicians remotely, such as smart watch-like heart monitors that identify unusual patterns in heart rhythms. Insurance companies are also increasingly using data from wearable devices to track patients’ health and better understand health-related behaviors, and this data can help improve outcomes while reducing healthcare costs.

Providers in developed countries are also establishing new alliances with industry to provide better care with new technologies. These include programs such as Siemens Guardian Program that remotely monitors imaging equipment and provides alerts on potential problems before equipment malfunctions.

Policymakers in both countries are also turning to new ways to evaluate and approve novel drugs and medical devices. India now has the SUGAM portal, an online system in which drug and device manufacturers can submit applications for new product approvals and their approval progress can be tracked transparently. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is currently building the National Evaluation System for Health Technology (NEST), which will gather and analyze information on the efficacy and safety of new medical devices.


What to do:

  • Provide additional value with devices through disruptive technology. Look for ways to boost value for patients and other stakeholders—such as adding remote monitoring capabilities to devices where applicable—and then measuring the impact these technologies actually have in terms of improved patient outcomes or cost savings.
  • Keep an eye on markets in developing countries. The healthcare sector is evolving quickly in India and other developing countries, with disruptive technologies playing a large role in their growth. Digital partnerships or tailoring technology to developing healthcare systems can help support the adoption of specific products.