Being a parent is indeed challenging. However, the path of parenthood comes with its fair share of struggles and is often not spoken about. Infertility is one of the major hindrances that couples have to face. The fertility clinical practitioners are, however, making concerted efforts to ensure couples can experience the journey and become parents. As per the last estimate, more than 9 million IVF babies have been born globally since the first in 1978. This statistic depicts that the fertility clinics and IVF centres are putting in their best foot forward to deal with the challenge of infertility.
PRESENT LANDSCAPE OF INDIAN FERTILITY INDUSTRY
Infertility is becoming the new epidemic in our country. According to the research released by the fifth round of the National Family Health Survey, India’s Total fertility rate has decreased from 2.2 to 2.0. This implies the total fertility rate is 2 children per woman which has declined from 2.2 children in 2015-16. It is below the current replacement level of 2.1 children per woman.
What is indeed ironic is that India despite being one of the populous country suffers from infertility as a major issue. Clinical, racial and ethnicity factors are considered to be the major reasons causing infertility in India. Along with these, longer median age for family planning coupled with unhealthy lifestyle are the biggest the surge in infertility.
However, there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel. The digital medical advancements are now driving the unprecedented growth of the fertility segment in India. Digital health is paving the way for operational efficiency, implementation of Covid-safe protocols, telehealth adoption as well as a surge in egg freezing. It is expected these advancements will transform the scenario of the fertility industry in India in the times ahead.
DIGITAL MEDICAL ADVANCEMENTS DRIVING THE GROWTH OF THE INDIAN FERTILITY MARKET
Medical science has evolved over the period of time. The fertility science particularly is advancing in the wake of the growing domain of medical science and breakthroughs in research.
THE EMERGENCE OF DIGITAL INTERACTIONS
During the pandemic, clinics cross trained staff so that they can take over multitude of responsibilities. The non-medical interactions were also replaced with digital interactions. The discontinued cycles could be resumed all due to technology. It is anticipated that once clinics will understand the true potential of digital health and leverage it optimally; they will be able to turn all the more efficient and focus on key areas such as patient experience.
TELEHEALTH: THE NEW NORM
Just like the healthcare sector, even the fertility practice is adopting telehealth as a practice. In the earlier times, the industry survived on physical appointments and check-ups. Digital consults were unheard of. However, digital adoption during the pandemic led to the virtual consultations and remote monitoring emerging at the forefront. These have now become the new norm and it is expected will be the future of the industry as well.
Hence, it would be appropriate to say that the fertility industry is now going digital. This is helping to reduce the friction for new patients and they can now get consultations without physically visiting the clinics.
BOOSTING OPERATIONAL EFFICIENCY
The IVF Clinics are becoming digitally native. In fact, digital transformation has become imperative where demand is surpassing the supply and hence it needs to scale quickly as well as boost efficiency. The implementation of technologies in workflow management will help streamline the operations and this can contribute in increasing the success rate of the couples undergoing IVF.
INTRODUCING INNOVATIVE TECHNIQUES
Social freezing (freezing of eggs, sperms and embryos that are stored for future use and can be retrieved), PGT (Preimplantation Genetic Testing to detect any chromosomal changes in the embryo), and ERA (Endometrial Receptive Array technique that helps in analyzing the optimal time for embryo implantation), are the recent innovations that have been introduced in the fertility sector recently due to digital revolution of the segment.
TECH DEPLOYMENT: THE NEED FOR THE INDIAN FERTILITY SEGMENT
Technological advancements happening at a rapid pace will lead to the collaboration of medical professionals as well as tech experts that will help produce effective outcomes in the reproductive segment. For the IVF centres, undergoing digitization has become imperative to deal with unforeseen situations and enjoy a competitive edge in the market. It will also help them provide evidence based service delivery to the couples seeking solutions for infertility. The clinics are now emerging to be all the more robust, efficient and tech-savvy. It is expected that these trends that will lead to the sector reaching great heights in the times to come.
The author is CEO, Milann Fertility & Birthing Hospitals.