Setting the context
When COVID-19 surged in the 2020s, hospitals and medical institutions worldwide were plunged into chaos as they worked tirelessly to overcome the crisis and find effective solutions.
But in countries like India, where the demand for treatment was high and resources limited due to the sheer size of the population in need of medical attention, the impact was notably severe.
The pandemic exposed vulnerabilities in the Indian healthcare system, including inadequate contingency planning and outdated IT infrastructure, emphasizing the need for a more advanced and efficient approach to patient care.
The emergency response to the pandemic was, therefore, a watershed moment for the Indian healthcare industry. It ended decades of complacency and spurred new ideas about how to improve care delivery.
The result? An explosion of healthcare innovation and a rapid transformation of the sector.
According to a recent survey, 51% of health and human services organizations in India increased their use of digital technologies during the pandemic.
And nearly 3/4th of the respondents felt this had resulted in better access to services, improved staff productivity, and a higher-quality experience for service users.
However, despite the positive effects of these digital solutions, challenges remain, and action is needed to maintain progress.
Current Challenges & Opportunities
As per reports from EY, some of the key barriers that affect technology adoption in our new normal include:
Financial constraints - A major obstacle to implementing new technologies in the post-COVID world is a lack of funding to acquire the required tools. With hospitals and medical institutions no longer having access to the same level of financial resources and incentives as before, a more prudent digital investment strategy is a must.
Regulatory restrictions - Some of the data and privacy regulations that were relaxed during the pandemic are being enforced again, compelling hospitals to ensure the technologies they adopt align with these guidelines. There is also increased scrutiny around how medical data is stored and used. Hospitals must be mindful of this and take steps to maintain compliance.
Interoperability - The healthcare industry is complex, and it's important that the technologies hospitals use are compatible. This means when a hospital upgrades or deploys new systems, they must ensure it can communicate with their existing technologies.
While most of these challenges might have healthcare practitioners rethink continuing down the digitalization road, the good news is that all these challenges can be overcome with the right tools.
And even though digital transformation is no simple task, the rewards are well worth the effort.
In fact, according to recent findings, there is nearly INR 2.528.69Bn to be made from digital healthcare alone. Driven by rising income levels, a steadily aging population, heightened health awareness, and improved access to insurance services, the Indian digital healthcare industry is poised for massive growth of up to 28.50%.
As we look ahead, India's elderly population is set to increase from around 8% to 19% by 2050, while the Health and Medical Insurance Market is predicted to reach INR 1,357.43 billion by 2028 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.60%.
The Indian government has also introduced several initiatives to make healthcare more affordable and accessible to the general population with programs such as:
Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission(ABDM): This mission aims to take advantage of India's current public digital infrastructure (Aadhaar, UPI, etc.) to digitally identify people, doctors, and health facilities, facilitate electronic signatures, ensure non-repudiable contracts, make paperless payments, securely store digital records, and contact people, to streamline healthcare information through digital management.
Healthcare Professionals Registry (HPR): Part of the ABDM mission, the HPR enables healthcare professionals to access and e-sign prescription diagnostic reports and discharge summaries digitally, renew licenses online, obtain no-objection certificates, and more, fostering a paperless and structured workflow.
Electronic Health Records (EHR) Standards: The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has been working on implementing a standardized system for the creation and maintenance of EHRs. The system will modernize health data management and boost interoperability between healthcare providers.
Hence, India's digital healthcare sector holds a promising future thanks to these favorable trends and enabling factors. Embracing digital technologies can further improve the standards, cost-effectiveness, and accessibility in the field.
Choosing the right tool
Now, the question is: Which tool can the healthcare industry use that's compliant, affordable, and doesn't require major IT upgrades?
The answer lies in e-signature solutions. E-signatures have a wide range of applications in the healthcare industry, from patient forms to clinical trials to insurance claims. But some of the main advantages e-signatures have over traditional paperwork include:
Highly efficient workflows E-signatures replace slow, error-prone paper tasks with streamlined digital processes, leading to faster processing and shorter wait times. This shift empowers medical institutions to prioritize patients, subjects, and research, ensuring quality care without bureaucracy or delays.
Patient-centricity In India, where internet and smartphone usage are rapidly growing, and smartphone penetration ranks 2nd globally, e-signatures improve the patient experience by eliminating unnecessary travel or in-person visits for paperwork. They enable people to sign remotely, making healthcare more attainable and user-friendly, especially for underserved communities.
Cost-savings E-signatures help healthcare institutions save money on paper, postage, etc., freeing up additional resources for patient care and research. For example, a hospital sending and signing over 200,000 paper documents monthly saved $13 million in labor and $18 million in paper costs after switching to e-signatures. Likewise, e-signatures can unlock new revenue streams like telemedicine and remote healthcare, expanding access to medical care.
ESG E-signatures are eco-friendly. They allow hospitals to reduce paper usage and needless commutes, which massively decreases their carbon footprint. A hospital in Taiwan saved 700,764kg of A4 paper and avoided 24,000 km of commute by going paperless with e-signatures. It resulted in over 8,241 tons of CO2e savings, putting them one step closer to meeting their ESG goals.
Legal and regulatory compliance The Information Technology Act of 2000 and the Indian Contract Act of 1872 recognize the legal validity of e-signatures in India. So, healthcare providers can use compliant e-signature solutions to maintain legally binding records with audit trails and document tracking. Yet, many e-signatures fall short in fully safeguarding against legal issues, especially when it comes to medical consent.
Medical consent: the kryptonite for e-signatures
Medical consent is more than getting the patient's signature on a piece of paper.
Under Indian laws, hospitals must obtain the patient's voluntary and informed consent before a medical procedure. The consent process must be free from coercion or pressure, and the patient must fully understand the possible risks, complications, and alternatives.
Now, traditional e-signatures are not able to adequately convey the nuances of these consent forms. They can't capture the patient's willingness to sign, leaving the hospital open to legal action if the patient later claims they did not consent.
Similarly, as the Times of India states, blanket consents are also invalid. Separate consent forms are required for repeat procedures, blood transfusions, anesthesia, and fresh procedures. This means there are multiple forms to be signed, making them extremely cumbersome and time-consuming to create and complete.
Hospitals need a new way to safeguard the consent process, add accountability, and overcome the limitations of traditional e-signatures and in-person signatures.
Enter SelfieSign — the tailored e-signature solution for medical institutions.
How can SelfieSign help?
SelfieSign is an innovative e-signature solution that's revolutionizing the way people sign documents.
With built-in real-time video recording, SelfieSign captures four biometric traits—image, video, voice, and signature during the signing process for four times more security than popular e-signature solutions. By adding this extra layer of security and trust to every document signed, the platform effectively reduces the risk of fraud and disputes.
It also offers video recordings of each signer in every e-document signed on top of audit trails to guarantee the validity and authenticity of every e-signature. SelfieSign's patented SVS (Selfie Video Signature) file is embedded with the signing process video recording, electronic signature, location, timestamp, and hash code, ensuring non-repudiation and immutability of the document signed.
The .SVS file is a signing document compiled in an XAdES format according to the industry standard, making it compliant with elDAS regulation and suitable for advanced electronic signatures.
These factors make the platform invaluable for medical consent and legal disputes, while its smart document management system makes generating customized consent forms a breeze.
As India's healthcare sector goes digital with government support, there is a growing demand for a reliable electronic agreement solution that can seamlessly facilitate agreements among doctors, patients, insurers, etc.
SelfieSign, with its user-friendly interface and robust security, perfectly meets this need.
Moreover, the solution is eIDAS and GDPR compliant and ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certified, addressing Indian healthcare practitioners' two most pressing concerns—ethical violations and privacy breaches.
This (SelfieSign) could be the last mile in becoming a smart hospital in a new era of paperless healthcare. - Chih Jaan Tai, SVS Principal Investigator at
China Medical University Hospital
With over half of Taiwan's hospital beds now connected to SelfieSign (the preferred e-signature solution in the country), the company aims to replicate its success and launch SelfieSign in India.
Embrace SelfieSign today and unlock the full potential of e-signatures in the healthcare industry!
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