4 minute read 9 Dec 2022
Digital health
EY Tech Trends series

Chapter VI: How technology is improving speed, access, and efficiency in healthcare

By Srimayee Chakraborty

EY India Business Consulting Partner

Srimayee joined EY in 2008 and has over 14 years’ experience in business consulting, eight years of which are in the healthcare services space.

4 minute read 9 Dec 2022

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5G, omnichannel platforms, and AI are revolutionizing the Indian healthcare sector by building a highly networked health ecosystem.

This is part of the EY Tech Trends series wherein each chapter will focus on the rising shifts in key technology areas and the impact of these technologies across sectors.

In brief

  • The faster 5G network will enhance remote healthcare services and expedite telemedicine.
  • Healthcare companies are exploring omnichannel models to expand their reach. 
  • Integrating AI into diagnostic platforms is helping in screening, early detection, faster diagnosis, and identifying disease patterns.

The recently launched 5G services are going to offer a plethora of possibilities for the healthcare sector across remote healthcare services, wellness continuum, embedded health data analytics, in-hospital connectivity, etc. 5G may  augment the interplay of health sensors, algorithms, and smart devices, and also accelerate adoption of telemedicine. Faster network speed means fewer or no disconnections or lag time, and doctors can have more immersive remote engagements with patients, leading to improved care quality and experience.  

The low latency in 5G provides for higher-quality virtual interactions (such as 4k video calls), and faster sharing of heavy data files (such as high-resolution images). It also has the potential to achieve real-time interactivity of medical equipment and remote wearable devices that can then record patients’ healthcare data, analyze it, and communicate with healthcare providers in real-time, paving the way for better remote care (such as robotic surgeries, at-home care, etc.). With 5G connectivity, EMTs in an ambulance can share a patient's symptoms, vitals, and medical records with the hospital staff in real-time. They can apprise doctors of the situation through video calls and help them prepare in advance.

Wearables and AI-enhanced apps can use 5G technologies to apply machine learning to health-related data analysis, from diagnosis to emergency medical attention. Doctors can tap VR-based technologies to better explain diagnoses to patients, and medical practitioners can collaborate remotely, get training on complex procedures, etc.

As an enabler for several more services and solutions, 5G has the potential to improve patient experience and drive transformational change within the sector. It can open the door to a new age of opportunities, especially among the under-serviced communities in rural and remote areas, who currently struggle to access quality and affordable healthcare.

5G opens up the possibility of building an intelligent network in the healthcare ecosystem, where the various stakeholders such as patients, doctors, hospitals, laboratories, and ambulances exchange real-time information through a secured central network and pave the way for seamless omni-channel play.

Omnichannel platforms

Historically, healthcare service delivery has been an offline affair dominated by traditional hospitals, diagnostic players, and pharmacies. This changed briefly when COVID-19 restrictions forced patients to adopt online means of availing healthcare. With the return of in-person healthcare post COVID-19, healthcare players are realizing that to drive cost-effective and meaningful care to address evolving patient behavior, it is essential to have interoperability between in-person and virtual care. 

E-health players are, therefore, adopting a broader omnichannel healthcare delivery model to become a one-stop solution provider for patients. Companies that originally started with online-only services, such as e-pharmacies or e-diagnostics, are now evaluating offline models to register their presence across both channels. For example, an online e-health player is opening offline pharmacies and lab centers to complement its e-pharmacy and e-diagnostics services. Further, to address patients’ medical needs across the treatment lifecycle, some e-health players are adding healthcare at home services, which requires integrating online and offline services.

As e-health players explore offline play, many traditional hospital chains are stepping into the online play with plans to become comprehensive omni-channel providers. This not only enables them to increase their share of wallet by addressing patient’s needs across the treatment lifecycle, but it also allows a broader reach to patients and strengthening brand equity. For example, a pan-India hospital chain group has launched an omni-channel platform, which provides patients with online access to the existing network of pharmacies, hospital labs and hundreds of specialist doctors empaneled with network hospitals.

Omni-channel presence will also help healthcare companies improve their understanding of patient preferences, which will allow them to develop tailored services and continuously optimize engagement through analytics and new age digital capabilities. This would lead to increased patient satisfaction, resulting in longer patient retention. 

For patients, an omnichannel approach to healthcare allows seamless access across their preferred modes of delivery (online or offline) while maintaining the continuum in treatment.

AI and Analytics

The healthcare sector generates massive amounts of data every day. With medical equipment integrated through Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), patients increasingly choosing e-health options, and healthcare players adopting omni-channels models, there are more data generation touchpoints across the healthcare delivery cycle. In addition to that, with higher usage of AI and analytics, health data is being transformed into meaningful insights, revolutionizing the way healthcare is delivered. 

With advanced AI and analytics, healthcare organizations are able to deliver tailored solutions and treatment plans best suited to an individual. Advanced analytics tools can combine data from multiple sources (wearables, electronic medical records, connected equipment, etc.) to create data sets that provide a comprehensive 360-degree view of each patient. Using historical and real time data patterns, AI and analytics can also help provide predictive insights for targeted preventive care for patients at risk. Large hospital groups have already deployed AI and analytics technologies to improve access and efficiency of care.

On a larger scale, integrating AI into diagnostics platforms will enhance screening and timely identification for communicable diseases such as TB and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like cancer and cardiovascular diseases. NITI Aayog has started testing AI applications in primary care for early detection of chronic complications and is currently validating the use of AI-based screening tools. Further, AI and analytics applied to anonymized public health data can also be a powerful tool for studying disease patterns across the country and guide targeted policy intervention. 

For healthcare players, other new generation technologies, including analytics, intelligent automation tools such as robotic process automation, business process management, QR code applications, etc., are bringing in operational efficiencies. Intelligent analytics allows real-time visibility and control of key cost heads such as materials and workforce, monitoring compliance to formulary/budgeted norms, real-time insights on variances, maintain optimum resources and avoid stock outs/shortages etc. Intelligent automation not only improves efficiency and accuracy of repetitive process driven tasks such as bill audits, but it also allows humans to focus on value accretive tasks. Intelligent business process management enables delivery of committed service levels, which improves patient experience while automatically escalating any process breaks for timely resolution.

While 5G is enabling an interactive health ecosystem and a network of connected healthcare touchpoints in omni-channel model, AI and analytics is generating relevant insights from data captured across these touchpoints, paving the way for improved access, better quality of care, operational efficiency, and seamless patient experience. The next few years are likely to see a lot of action in this regard.


By achieving real-time interactivity, 5G can transform healthcare services as it will enhance the adoption of sensors, health data analytics solutions, and VR-based technologies. An intelligent network will allow various stakeholders, such as patients, doctors, and hospitals, to share real-time information. Omnichannel delivery models offer a one-stop solution to patients, while healthcare players can optimize engagement. AI and analytics are providing valuable insights that will enable delivery of higher quality of care, operational efficiency, and seamless patient experience.

About this article

By Srimayee Chakraborty

EY India Business Consulting Partner

Srimayee joined EY in 2008 and has over 14 years’ experience in business consulting, eight years of which are in the healthcare services space.