Digitized India may serve as Global Wellness Hub

India can take pride in saying it has over the years created a huge pool of qualified doctors and para-medicos. Indian doctors and para-
medicos are often sought after everywhere. Every major hospital in developed countries has a sufficient number of Indian doctors
working there. Besides large private hospitals providing top class medical treatment with five-star facilities have come up in big numbers
particularly in South India. The treatment provided there is comparable to the best in the world and is not cost prohibitive as compared to
some of the advanced economies. By Indian standards some of those private hospitals are quite expensive.
Nowadays, quality healthcare is an expensive affair in the developed world and increasingly medical tourism has caught on in India
and patients from neighbouring countries. The Gulf region gets medical treatment done in India because of highly developed and well
equipped hospitals in the country. Lately patients from US and Canada do frequent India for medical treatment particularly in private
hospitals in South India as it works out cheaper even after including the cost of travel and stay in India along with an attendant during
recuperation.
Progressing fast on the digital track witn 5G being rolled out soon in several parts of the country and digitization spreading in various
walks of life including medicare, remote surgery has become a doable phenomenon. India could become a healthcare hub for the world.
A surgeon sitting in Chennai can conduct surgery in a small town with the help of a trained nurse in that small town. The same surgeon
can conduct a surgery in the US or Canada as well. This can be a routine affair with the help of the 5G network. Once a fully established
5G network is in place, it can transmit both a real time granular view of the surgery in progress and the surgeon’s instructions that guide
the robotic arms carrying out the operation. For this the nurse would need to be trained to assist in remote surgery. There may be some
regulatory issues which can be evolved.

This development is at a nascent stage and regulatory issues have to be worked out on allocating responsibility among the telecom
operators, robotics vendors, software providers and medical personnel especially when something goes wrong with the surgery. But this
could become a major health industry for India with huge foreign exchange earning potential. Once all these issues are sorted out, there
is going to be a huge opportunity for the Indian medical fraternity. Medical treatment is very expensive in the advanced economies. This
is one of the reasons that medical tourism has caught on particularly from neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Maldives, Sri Lanka
and Nepal. Some patients do come from Pakistan as well for complicated medical and surgical treatment. Many come from Gulf
countries because it is much cheaper in India.
As it is, digitization has helped India to improve its governance. Direct benefit transfer for various social schemes of the government has helped to plug
leakages to a large extent. Digitisation of ration cards has eliminated bogus cards. These have ensured government resources running into lakhs and
crores of rupees.

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