'Lack of medical data undermines Indian healthcare'

'Lack of medical data undermines Indian healthcare'

A prefabricated structure is set up on the grounds of the Lalith Ashok Hotel in the city to house exhibits brought in by Asean delegates on Tuesday.

Indian medical delegates at the Asean Chambers of Commerce and Business Meet which opened in the city on Monday called the government to start collecting medical data from hospitals across the country in order to better treat illnesses.

According to Dr Upendra Kumar Singh of the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO), less than 5% of medical data from patients is being collected in India, in contrast to industrialised nations where hospitals are mandated to collect and register all relevant medical history about their patients.

“In India, only 400 out of the 62,000 hospitals collect medically relevant information about their patients,” said Dr Nagendra Swamy of Manipal Hospitals. “The only reason for this is that they are mandated by the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals (NABH) to do so.”

The collection of this data will allow medical practitioners to address cancer cases without delay, said Dr Swamy.

Most hospitals in the United States and Europe employ an artificial intelligence system developed by IBM called Watson which, once fed precise medical terms pertaining to a patient, scans through as many as 45,000 medical papers held in digital archives around the world within five minutes to prescribe therapies with the best chances of success, he added.

“The accumulation of the data will help medical practitioners to better treat cancer,” Dr Swamy said and added that while Watson is present across two hospitals in India – Apollo and Manipal – the lack of information about Indian patients is forcing doctors to use western data and research in order prescribe therapies.

Medical delegates also offered a vision of the future filled with robotics, advanced cell therapies, drug tailoring and student doctors using Virtual Reality (VR) to learn about surgical procedures.

Calls for foreign investment

Calls by speakers for greater foreign investment in India led to some delegates to say that the country is a difficult place to do business in. Yeng Yen Thaw, a Singapore-based Chinese consultant capable of speaking fluent Kannada, pointed out that biggest hurdles to investing and running a business in India are regulations and legal issues.

Dr Sudhakar Shetty, president of the Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry, explained that he had pressed the state government about these charges and that the chief minister had assured him that the task of doing business in the state would be simplified.