India: Health IT Country Case Study

The Case Study on India (2017) published by the U.S. Department of Commerce within the International Trade Administration (ITA) is a study that is part of the agency’s ITA’s “Top Markets Reports” www.trade.gov/topmarkets.

The case study reports that India’s population of over 1.3 billion across 29 states and six Union territories is home to the third largest smartphone market in the world, making future opportunities in the mobile health subsector a very lucrative possibility.

The country is technologically advanced in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector and is largely self-sufficient in meeting their needs for hardware, software, connectivity, and services.

Seventy five percent of the country’s healthcare infrastructure is concentrated in urban areas while more than 75 percent of the population live in rural areas. The fact is that the use of telemedicine greatly helps bridge the gap between patients and doctors in India.

At the Indian state level, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) www.isro.gov.in has linked government medical colleges at Raipur and Bilaspur with premier hospitals across the country creating a statewide network. ISRO has established a vast telemedicine network consisting of 225 hospitals connected to 40 super specialty hospitals.

India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare https://mohfw.gov.in is addressing data privacy and the protection of health information through legislation. The legislation intends to provide regulations and standardization for EHRs as well as consequences for data breaches. The legislation would also address the ownership of EHRs and the transfer and access of information.

However, there are hurdles in applying telemedicine practices between Indian states and it has been unclear as to whether an Indian doctor registered with a state medical council would be permitted to provide medical services to patients residing in another state. Regulators in India may consider adopting cross-border licensing practices as is done in the U.S to practice telemedicine.

So far, most Indian Health IT opportunities appear to be in the field of telemedicine. However, in the future, other opportunities in other subsectors may greatly increase such as the development of self-monitoring healthcare devices along with integrating monitors and sensors into wearables.

The study on India summarizing the situation as of 2017, reports that telemedicine together with self-monitoring healthcare devices and EHRs are thought to be the areas with promising development potential in India’s Health IT market. However, U.S companies need to understand although the market potential is significant, navigating India’s fragmented regulatory approval system can be challenging.

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