“The New India,” Consumerism and Wireless & Mobile Healthcare

February 17, 2011 | Reply More

Ashok Kaul, Vice President, Wireless-Life Sciences Alliance

My brother recently migrated back to India to lead a start-up in the electronics sector.  As he busily builds his business and reestablishes himself, he has introduced me to the concept of “The New India.”

The importance of his remark is wide-ranging as India competitively touches nearly every sector of the U.S. Economy. However, because of my 30+ year career in healthcare, I immediately began to consider where The New India will impact my day-to-day business realities as well.

Much has been written about the impacts of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) economies on innovation and consumption in many industries; but a recent New York Times article citing how the U.S. medical device sector may be losing some of its competitive edge (thanks to FDA scrutiny) underscores a viewpoint for healthcare.

Scrutiny equals delays, and delays equal costs; and while the FDA has a tough job, at some point it will need to confront (and adapt) to the realities of our globally competitive market.  The company mentioned in the article (Biosensors International) learned this the hard way, like many other emerging healthcare companies, as it was forced to shut down operations due to the lengthy FDA approval process.

The FDA’s high bar on healthcare standards in the U.S. could cloud some observers the reality that superior care also exists in BRICS economies; however healthcare access is another story.  Eighty percent of populations living in non-metro areas are often far from primary care facilities.  Thus, the expense of travelling to a doctor for even the slightest adverse health condition is usually so high that those who need the care most don’t get it.

Wireless and mobile approaches to healthcare can help alleviate this burden, and allow the impoverished consumer access to care at a central facility, freeing up monies for care that otherwise would have been spent on transportation to a distant care center.   This “redirection of discretionary spending” enables “new BRICS consumers” to have better control over their limited funds.

In India and China, 2.2 billion people actively use the web and social sites like Facebook and Xiaonei.  Are the executives of U.S. based medical device companies paying attention to the preferences of these newly empowered consumers?  A few have grasped the reality that wireless and mobile technologies are true enablers of healthcare and despite the infrastructure barriers in the BRICS countries, the pent up user demand from billions of consumers is driving meaningful innovation.

The application of wireless and mobile health solutions in traditional environments is top of mind with government and business leaders and is a central theme to the upcoming 6th Annual Wireless-Life Sciences Convergence Summit in San Diego.

Ashok Kaul

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