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India needs to scale up cath labs to enable cardiac interventions to avert fatalities: Nitin Stephen Abel

India needs to scale up cath labs to enable cardiac interventions to avert fatalities. Accessibility and affordability of quality healthcare are the key challenges we observe in India. India suffers from a huge cardiovascular disease (CVDs) burden with one in four fatalities including ischemic heart diseases. The surge in lifestyle disorders and unhealthy diets further increase CVD cases, said Nitin Stephen Abel, business leader, image guided therapy, Philips Indian Subcontinent.

Annually 2.5 million people succumb to CVDs, which after adjustment roughly translates to over 2 million interventions required each year to save critical lives. One of the ways of dealing with this growing burden is by scaling up the number of cath labs to over 5,000 in most of the major cities in India. Unfortunately, the country is limited to just about 2,200 active cath-labs in approximately 150 cities, he added.
Hence we see a huge challenge of accessibility in the country and Philips, being a leader in cardiology, clearly acknowledges this huge unmet clinical need. We have aggressive plans to customize local requirements and double the number of active cath labs in the next several years with a focus on improving accessibility and affordability particularly in the quality of cardiac care, in tier 2 and tier 3 markets, Abel told Pharmabiz in an email.

Further the country is also largely an out-of-pocket market globally which accounts for 75% of total health expenditure, resulting from lack of health insurance coverage adding pressure on patients to delay elective surgeries, he said.

Artificial intelligence (AI) represents a huge opportunity to improve healthcare in general. AI uses data science techniques that can sense, reason, act, and adapt to assist with complex and repetitive tasks, Abel noted.

Interventional suites can also be equipped with several aligned technologies like intravascular ultrasound, fractional flow reserve, optical coherence tomography, electro physiology 2/3 dimensional mapping etc. to aid better and safer clinical procedures. Leading health-tech companies including Philips are working to deliver smart solutions using futuristic technologies like augmented reality in healthcare, fiber-optics technology for 3D-colored imaging, no x-ray procedures, tele-monitoring with precision diagnosis etc.

These additions will enhance the ability of interventional suites to provide a platform for convergence of patient experience and clinical work. While we do not expect AI enabled applications and digital technology interfaces in interventional suites to replace the offerings from medical specialists and staff in hospitals, but the treatment will increasingly involve such technologies in most of the clinical procedures. Hence, adapting to an interventional suite at the earliest is a suitable option for many healthcare providers and payers, to help equip the physicians deliver quality healthcare, he said.

For advancement of cardiac care AI is used in computed tomography (CT) for precise cardiology. Similarly AI solutions in MRI provide clear visibility due to enhanced visualization in 3D survey scan, avoiding multiple surveys, and improved confidence in cardiac planning for all patients. In ultrasound, AI provides a Dynamic Heart Model (DHM) with 3D knowledge-based identification for heart localization and chamber alignment. Also AI solutions in Image Guided Therapy Systems improves procedure outcome in a short time and increased safety. 

Philips has created an ecosystem for cardiovascular care with installation across over 1,000 cath labs. Our software-defined systems, supported by AI, deliver data-driven insights, to provide the right care at the right time to help better manage even the most complex cardiology cases. We are transforming cardiac care delivery into a connected future by integrating imaging, devices, software, informatics and services including minimally invasive treatment, precision diagnosis for cardiology and cardiac monitoring and diagnostics to provide confident care across post-acute settings for chronic disease and readmission management. Aggressive plans to expand our cath labs in the next several years to reach to the remotest of locations, helping the medical community tackle more complex patient procedures, said Abel.

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