World Tuberculosis Day: Digital Technology for Health Care Outcomes

Since the start of a COVID-19 pandemic, the world has had little time to think and worry about anything else. During this time, one of the most vital issues that the health sector had to put on hold was tuberculosis (TB). In India, the first two waves severely disrupted progress in TB diagnosis and treatment and saw a 25% relative decrease in annual TB case diagnosis (in 2019 and 2020). For the first time in a decade, the number of deaths from tuberculosis has increased. COVID-19 has derailed the progress made towards eliminating this deadly disease by 2025 in India. Redoubled efforts and coordination are therefore needed to achieve the target set by the National Tuberculosis Elimination Program (NTEP).

How could digital technology help healthcare?

Digital technologies include internet, virtual care, platforms, remote monitoring, smart wearable devices, artificial intelligence, big data analytics, blockchain, tools for exchanging and storing data and tools for remote data capture and exchange, etc. These technologies have enabled the sharing of relevant information across the health ecosystem creating a range of care. It also has the potential to increase health outcomes by improving medical diagnosis, data-driven treatment decisions, digital therapy, clinical trials, self-care and person-centered care, as well than by creating more evidence-based knowledge, skills and competencies. for professionals to support health care.

Digital health and tuberculosis

Digital health will be key to helping us achieve our global goals to end the TB epidemic by 2035. Digital health is a collective term for eHealth (electronic) and mHealth (mobile) technologies. Ending the global TB epidemic will require a drastic reduction in TB incidence and mortality from current levels. Achieving this goal will require action under three pillars as defined by WHO. Digital health interventions can contribute to all three pillars.


  • Early diagnosis of tuberculosis, drug susceptibility testing and systematic screening of contacts and high-risk groups.
  • Treatment of all TB patients, including drug resistant TB, and patient support.
  • Tuberculosis/HIV collaborative activities and management of comorbidities.
  • Preventive treatment for people at high risk and vaccination against tuberculosis.

Digital health contributes to this pillar through the use of automated test results, 99DOTS a low-cost mobile application for monitoring and improving medication adherence, e-learning by staff, communication by SMS, etc


Maximize the benefits of health and development policies and systems, employing a broader segment of stakeholders in government, communities and the private sector

This is achieved by creating a platform called Nikshay 2.0, creating unique patient IDs, e-learning for patients, creating a free helpline for TB patients.


The search for new scientific knowledge and innovations can radically change the prevention and care of tuberculosis. This could be achieved by using mobile phones as resources for data collection, complementary hardware to smartphones to enable clinical measurements, etc.

In the fight against tuberculosis, MedGenome has gone all out, in which it offers a range of tests for tuberculosis, including molecular tests like the GeneXpet/CBNAAT test which has revolutionized the diagnosis of tuberculosis. MedGenome has also partnered with the government of Karnataka to perform this test daily. SPIT-SEQ, which is an in-house developed next-generation sequencing (NGS)-based test, is a game-changer by providing drug resistance testing for 18 drugs within 2 weeks of TB diagnosis. This is particularly useful as multi-drug resistant TB is a major obstacle to eliminating TB in India. At Medgenome, from booking an order for a test, through to report generation being integrated into a laboratory information system (LIMS) where report generation is automated to avoid delays and errors .

NI-KSHAY-(Ni=End, Kshay=TB) is the web-based patient management system for tuberculosis control under the NTEP. It is developed and maintained by the Central TB Division (CTD), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, in collaboration with the National Informatics Center (NIC) and the World Health Organization Country Office for the India. Nikshay is used by health officials at different levels across the country, both in the public and private sectors, to register TB cases, order various types of tests from laboratories across the country, record treatment details , monitoring treatment adherence and transferring cases between health care providers. . It also functions as the national TB surveillance system and facilitates the reporting of various surveillance data to the Indian government. NIKSHAY is an example of how digitization can be an effective tool in controlling tuberculosis.

A recent study reported that the United States, China and India are the leading digital health research centers for tuberculosis. Thus, there is growing optimism that available technological innovations can solve many of the programmatic and logistical obstacles that have hampered efforts to control TB, but to end the epidemic, greater investment, better science and more political will are still needed.

Opinions expressed by Dr. Gunisha Pasricha, Senior Scientist and Expert in Infectious Diseases, MedGenome Laboratories


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