Tuesday October 22, 2019

ICU Care from far: How India is solving its problem of doctors shortage

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Doctors remotely monitor live footages of patients inside an electronic intensive care unit (eICU) at Fortis hospital in New Delhi, India, January 20, 2016. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
A doctor remotely monitors live footage of patients inside an electronic intensive care unit (eICU) at Fortis hospital in New Delhi, India, January 20, 2016. Picture taken January 20, 2016. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
A doctor remotely monitors live footage of patients inside an electronic intensive care unit (eICU) at Fortis hospital in New Delhi, India, January 20, 2016. Picture taken January 20, 2016. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

By Aditya Kalra

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – A doctor at a hospital in India’s capital, New Delhi, was recently tracking a wall of monitors displaying the vital signs of intensive care patients admitted hundreds of miles away when red-and-yellow alerts rang out.

The oxygen flow to a 67-year-old patient had stopped when no critical care doctors were present in a hospital in the northern city of Amritsar.

But the doctor in the New Delhi centre run by Fortis Healthcare quickly issued a set of instructions and stopped the patient from suffering brain damage or death, the Indian hospital chain said in an account of the episode.

India’s top private hospitals, seizing on a shortage of critical-care doctors, are expanding into the remote management of intensive care units around the country and, starting this month, in neighbouring Bangladesh too.

India has seven doctors for every 10,000 people, half the global average, according to the World Health Organization. Data from the Indian Medical Association shows the country needs more than 50,000 critical care specialists but has just 8,350.

Such a shortage of doctors means small facilities in India’s $55 billion private hospital market are ill equipped to provide critical care even as numbers seeking private healthcare rise because the public health system is in even worse shape.

India’s largest healthcare chain, Apollo Hospitals Enterprise, and Fortis will this year expand their network of electronic intensive care units (eICUs), scaling up operations thanks to advances in communications technology.

“We want to leverage (doctors) using technology,” said K. Hari Prasad, head of hospitals business at Apollo that employs more than 700 critical care doctors.

Apollo, which monitors 200 patients in six states from its only eICU in Hyderabad city, will open three new centres to track 1,000 more patients. Prasad said he is also in talks to extend the service to government hospitals.

Fortis will start remote monitoring of intensive care patients in the Bangladeshi city of Khulna this week, its first such cross-border operation. The hospital chain tracks 350 patients from its New Delhi centre but will start two more eICUs by mid-2017.

Jayant Singh, director of healthcare at Frost & Sullivan India, a consultancy, estimates that eICUs are boosting industry revenues by $220 million a year by giving smaller hospitals the ability to treat critical patients at the hands of top-flight intensive-care specialists, even if they are in another city.

India’s eICU beds will expand by 15-20 percent each year from about 3,000 now, Singh said.

SAVING LIVES

With multiple computer screens inside these high-tech eICUs, doctors suggest treatment procedures after assessing medical history and real-time heart rate charts of patients fighting for their lives in distant facilities.

Doctors recently saved a 30-year-old pregnant woman in a hospital in the southern city of Warangal after her heart stopped beating, assisting a resident doctor not specialised in intensive care to carry out chest compressions through a video link.

“We save about 25 lives a month,” said Shamit Gupta, medical director at Fortis’ eICU unit.

Hospitals charge between $10 and $30 a day to virtually monitor a patient from their eICUs, with revenues shared between hospitals and companies such as General Electric and Philips that have developed the tracking software.

That comes on top of standard critical care costs of about $200 a day in a small city hospital.

At that price, eICUs do little to address concerns of millions of India’s poor patients who often share beds or wait for days to gain admission to a public hospital.

“This technology basically is not bridging the gap between the poor and the rich, but increasing access to specialized healthcare for those who can afford it,” Frost & Sullivan’s Singh said.

(Reporting by Aditya Kalra; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani, Robert Birsel)

  • Rakesh Manchanda

    Indian doctors in lobby with politicians have insulated themselves with conflict of interest.They need to be courageous to help break this deadlock and seek solutions while inviting health awareness groups to connect to humanity is spite of Rich-Poor patient divide.

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  • Rakesh Manchanda

    Indian doctors in lobby with politicians have insulated themselves with conflict of interest.They need to be courageous to help break this deadlock and seek solutions while inviting health awareness groups to connect to humanity is spite of Rich-Poor patient divide.

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Apple Begins Production of its Highly Successful iPhone XR in India

The iPhone XR demand further saw an uplift after the price drop and aided by heavy promotional activities in the ongoing festive season

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Apple, iPhone XR, India
According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), in the premium ($500 or Rs 35,000 and above) segment, Apple bettered Samsung for the leadership position with an overall share of 41.2 per cent in 2Q19. Pixabay

In a big impetus for its India manufacturing dream, Apple has started production of its highly successful iPhone XR in the country.

Multiple sources confirmed to IANS on Monday that the production of iPhone XR, that was launched last year but is still flying off the shelves, is up and running at Apple supplier Foxconn’s facility in Sriperumbudur, Chennai.

Riding on heavy promotional offers on iPhone XR, Apple regained top position in the premium smartphone segment in India in the second quarter (Q2) this year.

According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), in the premium ($500 or Rs 35,000 and above) segment, Apple bettered Samsung for the leadership position with an overall share of 41.2 per cent in 2Q19.

Apple, iPhone XR, India
Multiple sources confirmed to IANS on Monday that the production of iPhone XR, that was launched last year but is still flying off the shelves, is up and running at Apple supplier Foxconn’s facility in Sriperumbudur, Chennai. Pixabay

The iPhone XR demand further saw an uplift after the price drop and aided by heavy promotional activities in the ongoing festive season.

In a clear signal that India is Apple’s next growth market, Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer Foxconn’s Chairman Terry Gou recently said the company would begin mass production of iPhones in India this year.

Gou said the move “will get Foxconn more deeply involved in the development of the country’s smartphone industry” which currently has over 450 million smartphone users.

Foxconn is already expanding its manufacturing operations in India.

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“To start with, it makes sense for Apple to localise assembling of models that have the potential to scale up and then slowly expand it to entire portfolio,” Tarun Pathak, Associate Director at Hong Kong-based Counterpoint Research, told IANS recently.

The iPhone XR is available for Rs 44,900 online, with some great buy back and cash back offers.

Apple iPhone shipments grew 19 percent (YoY) in India in its last reported quarter.

Apple, iPhone XR, India
Riding on heavy promotional offers on iPhone XR, Apple regained top position in the premium smartphone segment in India in the second quarter (Q2) this year. Pixabay

Apple in August said it looks forward to welcoming customers at its first branded retail store in India soon.

Also Read- Biggest Facial Recognition System in The World Arrive in India Next Month

“We love our customers in India and we’re eager to serve them online and in-store with the same experience and care that Apple customers around the world enjoy,” Apple said. (IANS)