Saturday, July 28, 2007

Futuristic Healthcare Technology and Pharma Marketing

The impact of technology at the grass root level

Technology has a great impact on the health scenario at the grass root level. For eg. I remember conversing with a doctor during a field call, sometime early 1990s. He was saying that two product introductions revolutionized the health scenario in India. The first was the mass production and easy availability of packaged drinking water–this reduced the incidence of gastrointestinal infections and the second one with a huge impact on the incidence and severity of GI infections was the drug ciprofloxacin. He reiterated that these two products changed the patient profile in his practice.

Technology has significant impact on the ground reality, thereby altering disease profiles in clinical practices.

Impact of IT on healthcare

The greatest advances of IT will be felt on delivery of healthcare. Some of the futuristic happenings would be:

Right now there is a clear cut distinction between healthcare product manufacturers and marketers, and the healthcare delivery systems (manned by healthcare practitioners). Pharma companies belong to the former category and hospitals/clinics are significant parts of the healthcare delivery systems in society. IT will bridge the two together leading to blurring of the borders. Thus, we would have a future scenario where Pfizer would be involved in storing lipid profiles of patients in a secure web site in an electronic format (accessible via a password through internet and WAP-mobile services). Thus, Pfizer would help diagnose cases of hyperlipidemia, store e-records, and give access to these to authorized personnel.

The second impact of IT would be a new breed of professionals or companies – the electronic healthcare information providers (or healthcare counsel providers). These healthcare and IT savvy individuals would help integrate the vast database of health, disease, and treatment related information (including prevention) and would aid therapy givers give the best integrated therapy for an individual’s disease condition.

The third impact of IT would be in the form of Pharma companies or associated companies creating and maintaining electronic records of genetic profiles of individuals and aiding therapy givers give the best therapy based on the genetic tendencies of patients.

The fourth impact of IT would be social media assisted word-of-mouth dissemination of healthcare information tips and experiences. These are very powerful influencers.

While there are many individuals like the guys at, and companies big and small working on the concept of web enabled healthcare delivery, one can expect some big bang products in this arena from Google health for the following reasons:

a) They have the best of people in the world focusing their efforts on this sector.
b) Google offers an intrapreneurial climate - a prerequisite for slingshot developments.

A convergence of a different kind

Today the primary focus of Pharma companies in India is the trade calls (individual doctors practicing in clinics) and then follows the hospitals. However, IT, capital formation, availability of qualified personnel, development of Medicities, corporate hospitals, and better travel and communication facilities will create a convergence of a different kind.

What will the convergence be like?

a) The convergence will be of various silos of treatment procedures (eg. physiatry, physiotherapy, Allopathy, Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani, Accupressure, Chinese and Tibetan traditional systems) under one roof in a Medicity. The barriers between the therapy silos will progressively collapse.
b) There will be convergence of IT enabled healthcare services, Pharma companies, and healthcare delivery systems (of whom the healthcare practitioner will be a part of). For eg. Pfizer would probably be involved in aiding Pharma R & D-manufacture-marketing, diagnosis, e-records, e-genetic profile records, and partnering healthcare personnel in treatment regimens. Verily, Pharma companies would be offering a package deal. An Indian Pharma company well positioned to go into this orbit of healthcare delivery is Wockhardt – an umbrella enterprise - researching, manufacturing and marketing pharmaceuticals; Wockhardt also owns diagnostic facilities and corporate hospitals.

However, the greatest contribution of IT and other futuristic technologies will be preventive healthcare and health consciousness.

Blogpost put up from nearby cybercenter.

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