Essential but Underskilled: Healthcare Workforce is still Living with Tools from Ancient Times.

Healthcare facilities have finally acknowledged the necessity for upgradation to enhance care-delivery worldwide. However, it still wouldn’t be too irrelevant to ask – how can we upgrade healthcare systems when one of its crucial pillars is still functioning or perceiving healthcare in the same old fashion? Most importantly, is the medical fraternity aware of the challenges that their staff have been experiencing after the introduction of technology? 

According to the studies – the Indian healthtech market is expected to grow to $5 billion by 2023 and to $50 billion in another ten years, suggesting that healthcare technologies are gradually moving to the core of healthcare processes while implying that the care delivery patterns are evolving and we are finally heading towards a new age of renaissance in healthcare. But, is our workforce strong enough to sustain the change, let alone flourish in the light of development? 

Today, as the state of affairs between nurses/work staff and technology continues to influence the quality of care, patient safety, staff efficiency, and job satisfaction, these two have been viewed as being in a love/hate relationship.

HealthTech and Nurses – A mismatched duo!

According to the Head of Staff for Nursing Department, Mrs. Gayathri Iyer from Government Medical Hospital, Nagpur, nursing and technology have a complex relationship. Technology can improve the efficiency and accuracy of nursing care, but it can also introduce new challenges and stresses for nurses. Electronic medical records, for example, can make it easier for nurses to access patient information, but they can also add to the workload and take time away from direct patient care. Additionally, new healthtech tools are not easy to learn, which can create additional barriers for nurses. Overall, while technology can be a powerful tool for nurses, poorly designed software will bring nothing but chaos to a care delivery system. Further in the conversation, Mrs. Gayathri highlights the relationship dynamics between healthcare professionals and technology while telling us why the healthcare workforce is still underskilled to adapt HEALTHTECH!

Tech Literacy and Adaptability Issues. 

The future of the healthcare systems is poised to bring better & more fulfilling work responsibilities for the healthcare workforce only if care facilities adapt to healthtech swiftly. However, with a low tech literacy headcount within the healthcare organisations, the adoption is not as easy as it was anticipated. As a result, the care facilities that fail to fuse their workforce and healthtech systems are not only missing out on great leaps in patient engagement and efficiency, but, in the worst-case scenario, it can also lead to a loss of position as a patient’s provider of choice.

So to bring your workforce to speed, here are a few strategies that can help:

  1. Provide training and education: Training staff to use a healthtech platform efficiently is one thing and helping them understand why it is important is another. It’s more about the perspective they have regarding technology. Figure out a way to change the perspective of healthcare force towards the way they perceive healthtech, and reap the benefits of automation in healthcare. 
  1. Choose your tech partner wisely: Given that your healthcare workforce wouldn’t be pleased while functioning with multiple healthtech tools for different operations, opting for an integrated healthcare management suite will encourage smooth workflows. Integrated Management Suite comes with an all-in-one solution platform making your inter and intra-departmental processes easier while creating a balanced ecosystem for your patients and staff.  
  1. Regularly evaluate and update the technology: Updating healthtech platforms is necessary for several reasons. First, it ensures that the tool is functioning properly and is free of bugs or glitches. Second, it allows for the incorporation of new features and improvements that can enhance the user experience and make the tool more effective. Third, it is crucial for maintaining compliance with industry regulations and standards.
  2. Opt for a healthcare system that does not require tech support: Having a tech-admin team is an added benefit, but if your practice management software doesn’t need a tech-support, in a way it implies that the system is easy-to-use and you won’t have to worry about all the hassles that might come while managing a tech-support team.

HArbor Says: The healthcare industry is facing major challenges such as healthcare accessibility issues, chronic disease, and a shortage of skilled professionals. In order to meet these challenges, it is essential for the healthcare workforce to be equipped with the latest knowledge and skills, including digital literacy and the use of technology. This will not only improve patient outcomes but also increase efficiency and reduce costs. It is time for the healthcare industry to embrace the digital age. 

If you are looking for a practice management platform that is easy-to-use and would assist you and healthcare staff in everyday operations, feel free to reach out to HArbor! 

Telemedicine, Its Challenges And, Their Solutions with HArbor

Using Telemedicine on HArbor’s integrated platform is super easy and can be easily managed without IT support. Moreover, HArbor’s assisted-telemedicine can assist patients to cut down on their costs for in-person and ER visits, thereby proving to be a good investment for medical practitioners.

Today, HealthTech is the only solution for some of the age-old healthcare issues, but we can’t ignore the fact that every technology comes with its own drawbacks. With #Telemedicine picking up the pace of healthcare delivery, here are some of the issues that #medicos face while operating with it.

Here are the major barriers to health integration and how HArbor platform solves the problem.

1. Just a Telemedicine tool, not enough!

2. Believe it or not, Tech literacy is a thing!

TeleMedicine, Its Challenges And, Their Solutions with HArbor

3. Medical Data security is priority!

4. Affordability is the first step to accessibility.

TeleMedicine, Its Challenges And, Their Solutions with HArbor

3 Lessons that Every Healthcare Practitioner must know from the Year 2022

Has the COVID-19 pandemic reached an end? Maybe not. But, the reality check experienced by the healthcare systems across the globe since Janauary 2020 is on the centre stage. Significant enough to impact patients’ idea of care delivery, healthcare systems are gradually adapting to this change, and the ‘newfound revolution’ in the healthcare industry may even fill the age-old gaps in medical caregiving.

But the real question is – Are we really stepping towards the long-anticipated healthcare transformation? 

Back in the day, when technology was not a substantial part of our lives, healthcare demonstrated a pestle-and-mortar stage of care delivery. From consultation appointments to invoices, everything was super slow and manual. It is one of the prime reasons that has restricted patients from receiving advanced healthcare even in emergencies, let alone visiting a care facility for preventive and palliative care. For them to access healthcare from an equipped medical facility was primarily inaccessible, costly and time-consuming. Imagine – spending dreadful hours in queues for appointments and bill payments while constantly worrying about the cost of care. To be honest, we all have experienced this at some point in our lives. Every year, around 55 million people in India are still grinding on the same slab, distressed over the current healthcare system and worried about their future generations.

This vicious cycle has affected every stakeholder in healthcare, and the nightmare came alive in the last two years, suffered by millions together. So what can we do about it? If you find yourself searching for the answers, lessons from 2022 will guide you to build a better healthcare delivery environment for your patients. And, the road to better healthcare starts with the accessibility of care. 

1. If your care services are accessible to patients, it’s half the battle won!

Image Source: worldbank.org

We know primary healthcare professionals function at the forefront of the healthcare system. In India, where maximum care practitioners are functional in cities, the rural and remote populations are still struggling for good quality primary care. With no early detection, chronic disease management, preventive and palliative care, the mortality rates in India are high in response to poor healthcare quality. As evident in a report published by The Lancet- Every year approx. 2.4 million Indians die of treatable conditions, implying that Bharat is not just in need of skilled primary healthcare professionals but a redefined system to connect patients to the medicos. 

As impossible as it is for medicos to build a full-fledged infrastructure facility, it is feasible to connect with your patients from different parts of the country via technology. Yes, healthTech. However, in order to benefit the mass population, rural populations need a little more than just Telemedicine. The assisted-telemedicine module is one such advancement that will equip medicos with seamless connectivity while enhancing their patient reach. In addition to this challenge, emergency cases suffer the most. 

Patient perspectives: At times, patients with chronic care management and preventative care prefer short-term consultations instead of the recommended long-term treatments. Studies by NCBI have shown that patients often misunderstand their primary doctor’s approach and think they lack the skills to facilitate required medical care. As a result, they end up substituting inaccessible care services with ER services. And, now that the locality’s ER units are all occupied with non-urgent cases, the emergency patients suffer. But, if patients could access primary care at their doorsteps, compounding pressure on emergency room(ER) admissions could be tackled efficiently. 

Ever wondered why do patients restrain from reaching out to primary care practitioners in other locations? 

While some are under the impression that every healthcare facility is supposed to provide care for all health ailments, for the majority – cost efficiency is the other barrier on the road to care accessibility.

 2. Because The Overall Medical Expenditure Matters!

Health expenditure is one of the crucial determinants of health status. It determines a patient’s ability to obtain basic medical facilities, continuity of treatment, and access to preventative and palliative care. According to a BMC report, The average cost per episode of outpatient care is around INR 400 for public providers, INR 586 for informal private providers and INR 2643 for formal for-profit providers. This cost is marginally above almost 55% of households in India. It is no wonder that quality healthcare is a luxury that only a few can afford. 

While considering the factors responsible for rising healthcare costs, one can easily conclude that the patients’ needs have evolved, but our healthcare system is still running on wheels from the 90s. And, it is not sustainable at all. 

Here are a few ways that can assist you, unburden your patients of the (un)necessary out-of-pocket expenditures.

  1. Facilitate online/in-app appointment scheduling.
  2. Encourage Telemedicine appointments for follow-ups or diagnostic report evaluations. 
  3. Opt for standalone-OPD satellite centres with integrated assisted telemedicine and Point-of-care-testing(POCT) in remote locations. 
  4. Encourage preventative care plans for your patient to avoid any future chronic ailments.  

3. Developing a Sustained Partnership with Patients

With change comes opportunity. The COVID-19 Pandemic phase stimulated just the same response wherein granular levels of responsiveness and interoperability within healthcare departments pushed the slow and careful healthtech adopters towards intuitive and agile healthcare systems. As a result, doctors were seen providing care to patients from anywhere, anytime. Somehow, perfecting the age-old challenge of doctor-patient connectivity. 

The doctor-patient relationship plays a crucial role in trust-building and treatment proceedings. However, nurturing this relationship is not as easy as it looks, especially when medicos have just enough time to interact with patients. Today, healthcare practitioners are dealing with mainly 2-sets of patients. It includes tech-savvy patients who prefer technology-mediated care instead of spending hours using conventional care delivery modes. The other kind is comfortable with years-old established healthcare care delivery methods, who are currently paying the price for the outdated system. 

The new-age millennials who prefer tech-savvy caregivers are redefining and encouraging a transparent and convenient healthcare delivery. On the other hand, it facilitates the caregivers to connect with their patients efficiently and to convey that their doctor is just a click away. This is as simple as getting a text from your care provider – “ How are you today?” or “Did you confirm your appointment slot for the follow-up session this month?” Moreover, patients usually get annoyed while keeping track of their medications or vitals, and in this case, an integrated medication reminder and a periodic vital management module can work wonders. Similarly, using different modules such as EMR, Patient Health Monitoring, Telemedicine and more integrated into a clinic management software can boost doctor-patient relationships. 

However, people who prefer the less fancy, age-old ways of treatment – driven by experienced yet, old-schooled doctors, often lack faith in healthtech. For them, it is one extra thing to take effort on, while missing the point that integrating one healthtech tool into their lives will eliminate the ten time-consuming and tiresome practices they perform every day. Manual functioning may have worked in the past for the care practitioners, but in order to meet the required healthcare needs and to keep a steady patient flow, conventional care practitioners need to meet them halfway. And, Kiosk-based remote satellite-clinic center is the right foot forward. 

With the surge of another COVID variant(BF.7), we are likely heading towards another fight, but nonetheless, the lessons and challenges unravelled need a stronger healthcare system. Which is impossible without widely adapting technology in healthcare delivery operations. 

HArborSays

We’ve been given a wonderful opportunity to learn from the past to re-evaluate, redesign and rebuild our healthcare systems. Let’s make it better and widely accessible, cost and people friendly this time via healthtech. 

Want to know how HArbor is in stores for healthcare practitioners? 

Visit us at www.harborvision.in

 

Practice of Medicine: Story of Two doctors, Two Realities & One Profession. 

Two dynamic young doctors – Dr Jay & Dr Keshav, got admission in a renowned medical institute in the old city of Vellore for their post-graduation studies. Growing up in different parts of the country, Dr Jay & Dr Keshav had different approaches to their patient care methodology. While Jay grew up in the suburbs of South Bombay, Keshav saw his family struggle with electricity supply in their agricultural field in the remote areas of Gadchiroli.

These academically brilliant minds found solace in each other’s company while in medical college. Fast forward to 2022, both have completed their Masters in General Medicine and are ready to take on their lifelong mission of helping people in dire need of their skills.

Dr Jay & Dr Keshav had an immense influence on each other’s lives, so much so that when Dr Jay wanted to open his first clinic, he chose a remote area in Gadchiroli, not far from Dr Keshav’s childhood home. His motto was simple: nobody should suffer to get healthcare as much as his dear friend Dr Keshav did in his early days. Meanwhile, Dr Keshav, inspired by Dr Jay’s lifestyle, moved to Bombay to bid goodbye to his financial worries; once and for all.

Practicing in his new clinic in the well-educated suburbs of Bombay, Dr Keshav was astonished to see how well-read and aware people of the city were, yet they would abuse their health intentionally or unintentionally with their city-based lifestyle. Most of the time, his patients in the city would have a pre-consultation with Dr Google before meeting him. For the first time in his professional life, Dr Keshav recognized the importance of online brand creation and digital awareness about his clinic amongst patients.

On the other hand, Dr Jay struggled to give necessities like continuous electricity in his clinic. He was in pain to see patients around his clinic, taking their health so lightly. His proposition of creating awareness amongst the people for “wellness living” has failed miserably.

Against popular belief and trying various platforms to keep his clinic lights on, Dr Keshav understood that all such platforms gave a temporary boost to his patient flow and eventually, the inflow decreased to a marginal level unless he paid to “Advertisements” in these marketplaces. Moreover, most of his patients who came via these platforms were prompted with too many details about the disease to sell devices or other services, which made his patients self-aware and forced them to internet search their issues before coming to him for consultations. Dr Keshav almost faced legal action once when he signed up for a cheap and free clinic management platform to manage his patients, and the software-cum-advertisement company sold the private data of his patients to the highest bidder for their own profit greed.

All this while, Dr Jay recognised the major health issues in the region were very different to what he saw his friend Dr Keshav deal with. Dr Jay had his own set of issues. While he had a very active Instagram page with more than 45K subscribers, found no impact of that on his clinic business. In the rural location, his patients struggle to find the correct pills from the medication envelope he was used to giving them, himself. He saw most of his patients going to the old Ved Ji near the old Bazar road in his village for all health ailments instead of coming to his clinic. Yet, all these problems did not even bother Dr Jay. His main concern remains the fact that patients near his clinic found his consultation fees to be very high, and for every step, his rates & fees structures were being compared to the wrong side of the governmental institutes, many of which did not even come close to the quality of services he provided.

Later that year, while both struggled to keep their work-life balance intact, their alma mater invited them to the annual alumni meet. Unaware of their individual struggles, they both confided their care giving problems to each other. That evening was the awakening moment for each of them. They found their old long lost passion for care giving. It was like walking back to their college days, where they used to talk about fixing healthcare issues in India. Even though their challenges were different because of their practice locations, their collective goals were the same – Better Healthcare for All. The eureka moment was when they discerned that their most problems could be solved with technology. They both skipped the alumni dinner party, rushed to the old dormitory stairs, sat with pen & paper and decided to conceive a solution to their every problem.  

They both were stunned to see the solutions were ever so simple. To build patient trust, Dr Keshav suggested Dr Jay write prescriptions in local languages so that the people around his clinic would understand better, while Dr Jay advised Dr Keshav to give timely medicine and appointment reminders to his patients. Furthermore, Dr Keshav was happy to find that the only way to beat Dr Google at his clinic was to keep in touch with his patients even outside his clinic, as suggested by Dr Jay. On the other hand, Dr Keshav strongly advocated Dr Ram use much more affordable rapid test kits for quicker and cheaper diagnosis instead of much more expensive and hard-to-run pathological tests.

Collectively, while Dr Jay needed satellite clinics in remote locations to create awareness about his care giving methods and reduce travel costs of the patients in that area, Dr Keshav needed these satellite clinics in various locations to increase his patient reach in the competitive urban setup. However, they both agreed that these satellite clinics would only work if they were manned by paramedics and connected to their central locations, facilitating assisted telemedicine to everybody. It was a fun night for these two medicos who were divided by their needs and environment of practice but connected by the end goal. 

From studying the existing fragmented healthcare system to modern-day data breach issues, these young professionals concluded that only an integrated healthcare system would lead them to a better healthcare future. A single-platform system to equally benefit every stakeholder in care and thereby take responsibility for their roles. An integrated platform that will not only enhance the personalization of care with better care coordination but will also curtail the manual processes to keep their staff busy in patient care and not in documenting and managing paper records.  

The next morning, both left that passionate ‘TED Talk’ between themselves, hoping to find a one-stop solution to each of their problems. Probably, one day they will be able to achieve their dream of providing equitable health for all. 

Readers, this could be you waiting for your perfect solution, but if you have read this story and related practice issues of these young doctors, it is your time to start using HArbor. 

Running a clinic? The success depends on acing your interdepartmental processes and communication. 

Have you ever wondered why patient engagement and care satisfaction is so challenging even when your staff has given their best? The answer is not out of the world.

For patients, the end #Goals are simple: accessible care, economical medical bills and positive treatment outcomes. But, medical facilities face varied challenges in ensuring patients desired experience during hospital/clinic visits. Besides this, every healthcare facility aims to deliver the best possible care, but if only, every care encounter would guarantee patient satisfaction and engagement! 

Out of the various parameters determining a care facility’s success, inter-departmental coordination issues have taken a front seat in healthcare units lately, as the repercussions can be lethal if left unchecked. Fundamental to a healthcare unit, inter-departmental processes guarantee smooth workflows and diminish human errors. 

“ When lives are at stake, asynchronous communication is a health hazard”

Challenges of Interdepartmental coordination in Primary care

  • Ineffective inter-department interactions

Imagine being ill and constantly juggling from one department to another (OPD – DIAGNOSTIC CENTRES – CLINIC RECEPTIONS – OPD Chambers). And, it gets egregious, followed and preceded by hours of wait time.  

Patient care and their transfers are dependent on smooth interaction between the departments. Whether it is between clinical to non-clinical departments or between clinical-clinical transfers, an efficient healthtech platform can be the key to eliminating the gaps and unforeseen hurdles during the processes. It assists the receiving departments to be on alert while being prepared for the same. For example – In NSD (Normal Spontaneous Delivery) cases or Accidental Trauma cases – a secondary care unit (with the prior information of the transfer) will be prepared with specialists on call, OT and any diagnostic evaluations essential for that particular case.

While it’s crucial to understand the importance of healthcare systems for smooth interdepartmental processes in a hospital, it is essential to note that without a healthcare system, a primary care unit separates itself from the entire healthcare pool. Think of it as a ‘break of chain’, which is paid in ‘patient’s health’ currency and leads to patient satisfaction.

  • Ineffective information hand-offs 

In between primary care to specialty care transfers, abrupt interdepartmental communication may create hindrances in the continuity of a patient’s care. The timeliness of information hand-offs between clinical departments or “calling of patient reports” is crucial for enabling the receiving department to check their specialists, equipment & staff availability and more.

During a conversation with staff nurses regarding patient transfer calls, she speaks about why patient transfer and further proceeding hit a delay. When the staff nurses are busy managing other patients in the department, manual report transfers of a patient can take ‘forever’ to process. As a result, patients wait in the state of illness for the treatment to begin. Helpless they stand to manual operating systems of the majority of clinics/speciality clinics in India, the transfer period imparts additional stress in treatment processes.  

A simple solution to this times-old enervated problem is EMR. Think about it – if all you have to do is press a button to send a patient’s report to another healthcare facility, wouldn’t that be easy? Similarly, if your patient wants to discharge and shift to another healthcare facility, it’ll need just a few seconds to be done.

It seems ideal but not impossible, right?

  • Ineffectiveness of information technologies

Talking about EMR’s role in patient transfer, often information from EMR is not enough. The reason being, the fragmented and compartmentalized nature of information in the EMR.

“In a parallel universe –  an ideal EMR would be the transcript of a patient’s health.” 

Technically, EMRs are performing what they were designed and chosen to do. Which is harnessing all of the clinical, operational, and patient-specific data and cataloguing them perfectly for the entire health system to refer. But, EMRs are not, by design, communication tools. They are just treasure troves of information and not purpose-built for workflow communication. 

For example: If you are a software developer working on Android studio, you can’t expect to communicate with your team members via the framework designed by you. You’ll need communication tools like team chat rooms, emails or skype to transcending ideas. But, wouldn’t it help if you can conduct meetings on the same platform or add your teammates on the same to process the work together? 

Similarly, EMRs should be on supporting platforms to enable easy communications, vital data analysis and in a one-tap share module  between healthcare staff, of course with role-based access control. 

An approach of this kind will assist the care professionals to interact efficiently not only with the care facility’s staff but with the patients. Like while ordering a series of lab tests. With an integrated system, medicos can discuss the findings of the ordered test samples with the patients via in-app alerts or notifications. 

HArbor Says:

Managing a healthcare facility isn’t easy, especially when the care facility’s operations and management may get ‘lost in translation’, leaving patients high and dry after every consultation. When it comes to patients, you need a more integrated approach and smooth interdepartmental communications to back your care delivery. 

Want to know how? Ask us today! https://harborvision.in/contact.html

Healthcare Accessibility & Affordability is Tampering your Care Delivery. Do you know why?

Idealistically, healthcare must be same for all, however, when it comes to healthcare accessibility and affordability, this world is distinctively categorized into the privileged and not privileged people. 

Interestingly, there are several factors contributing to this segregation but the main factor which contributed the most to this is the outdated and overburdened public care delivery system which places the primary care practitioners to foot the bill for age-old conditioning within the healthcare system.

Majority people who are the beneficiaries of these public health systems are so tired and exhausted with the sheer lethargy of the process they go through when they needed instant care that they get worked up on the smallest of the factors in private care. When these people make that transition from public to private, they expect their medicos and care-givers to be prompt and create a holistic environment for them. However, This does not mean that they can suddenly afford to pay higher than what they were paying in the public system. 

So the next time when your patients in the private clinic are unable to keep up with their follow-ups or they are concerned if they should continue with the treatment or they are showing temper tantrums while waiting in the reception area, believe that a single step towards resolving these issues will enhance better patient engagement and overall care outcomes.

Being a doctor, do you think that healthcare system’s limitations are significant enough to hinder your healthcare delivery and if yes, then how to ensure better healthcare outcomes while addressing these hurdles?

Trust us, TECHNOLOGY is your ring bearer.

There are many reasons why it is imperative to enhance healthcare affordability as soon as possible. First and foremost, rising healthcare costs are putting a strain on families and care practices alike. According to a report by BMC,

The average cost per episode of outpatient care is around INR 400 for public providers, INR 586 for informal private providers and INR 2643 for formal for-profit providers. This cost is marginally above almost 55% of households in India.  In addition to this, the current healthcare system is simply not sustainable in the long run. 

One way to do this is to improve the efficiency of the healthcare system. This can be done by streamlining processes, increasing transparency, and using technology to improve communication and coordination between care providers. Moreover, we need to find ways to reduce the cost of care on the whole. This includes the cost of medicines, diagnostic test, long travels. Another aspect of reducing the over-all cost of care would be to move the society towards preventive care and using point of care test kits (POCTs)

It is clear that there is no “one silver bullet” that will solve the healthcare affordability problem. We need to take a comprehensive approach that looks at all aspects of the healthcare system and only then can we hope to make meaningful progress in improving healthcare affordable for all.

Do you know: Out of 55-60 Mn Indians are pushed into poverty every year, a staggering 39% do not have ‘access’ to requisite healthcare services i.e. around 22-24 Mn Indians do not receive any medical attention before death.

One of the most important factors in healthcare affordability is accessibility to care. 

When people have easy access to quality healthcare, they are more likely to get the care they need, when they need it. This can prevent serious health problems from becoming worse, and can also help to identify health problems early, when they are more easily treated.

People who have difficulty accessing healthcare are more likely to delay seeking care, or can forego care altogether. This can lead to serious health problems, and can also make existing health problems worse. In addition, people who have difficulty accessing healthcare are more likely to end up in the emergency room, which is often the most expensive place to receive care. These burden of a series of small payments sum up to ‘care dissatisfaction’ while en route to a healthcare facility.

Making healthcare accessible to everyone is an important step in making it affordable for everyone. Meaning when people can easily get the care they need, they are more likely to stay healthy, and less likely to need expensive emergency care.

How does bad healthcare experience affect healthcare accessibility?

Bad healthcare experiences can have a significant impact on healthcare accessibility. If patients have negative experiences with the healthcare system, they may be less likely to seek out care when they need it. This can lead to a number of serious health problems, as patients may avoid seeking care for fear of encountering more negative experiences. In addition, bad healthcare experiences can also lead to patients feeling more disconnected to the system, which can make them less likely to cooperate with their care providers. This can make it more difficult for providers to deliver effective care, and can ultimately make it more problematic for patients to access the care they need.

How Technology can assist your practice? 

Technology can go a long way in improving the affordability and accessibility of healthcare for the millions of people around the world that live in rural areas and do not have access to healthcare. While Healthtech platforms enable you to connect with your patients, you can ensure timely healthcare delivery and continued monitoring via assisted care

From the use of pen & paper, to the use of computers and laptops, to the use of mobile phones for remote monitoring, to POCT diagnostic modules, technology has allowed the healthcare industry to deliver more efficient and effective care to their patients. Furthermore, technology has allowed patients to more easily monitor their own health, which has been a boon to patients who are on medications or chronic conditions. All of this is made possible through the use of technology, which has made healthcare more effective and affordable.

HArbor Says: 

Affordability & Accessibility are crucial parameters of healthcare delivery that determine the quality of a healthcare practice. And, when the healthcare dynamics is changed along with your patients’ behavior, only a healthtech platform like HArbor can enable you to reduce the overall healthcare costs for your patients while keeping your revenues unaffected while strengthening your relationship with patients. 

 

Doctor Patient Relationship – An Ever Evolving Mystery!

The doctor-patient relationship is dated back to 5000 years. Back then, in ancient Egypt, it resembled a priest-supplicant type engagement – a relationship involving healers to stage themselves as MAGICIANS who have mastered sickness and death through magic, mysticism and spiritual healing. For the most part, this relationship can be categorised under ‘beneficent paternalism’. Wherein, not only the healers were seen taking responsibility for their patients’ health but procured the right to make health decisions for them. Somehow managing a unique but functional relationship; Functional but not ideal!

On the other hand, In India reputation of doctors were beholden next to GOD and labelled under social and humanitarian line of work – a profession yet to be introduced in the business realms of the service world. 

It was a different scenario back in the ancient times, when majority of medicine practitioners would be around much of the rural areas and only a handful were to be found in the high citadels of the towns. This helped these ancient medicine practitioners know personal details and the personas of their subjects, which led to greater trust and round-the-clock availability. With time, when the civilizations evolved and  professional structures emerged, these care professionals leveraged their interpersonal relationships with patients and their families for probable diagnosis and explaining treatment protocols. Thereby, ensuring the best care outcomes.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, the dynamics of this relationship have evolved to the way we see it today. Where people seemed to be doing better, but the trust and compassion elements have hustled to stay afloat. This relationship strained further with new-generation doctors choosing cities over rural areas for their practice setups. As a result, the two-third of India’s rural population suffered tremendously by being dependent on mere 27% doctors available for medical care in these areas.

Fast forward to the present —

TECH-ADVANCED AGE, BETTER RELATIONSHIPS SCOPE

Although the public & private healthcare systems tried to compensate for low doctor-availability issues in Gramin areas of the country, the limited medical care was not enough to enhance patient satisfaction!

Rapid commercialization and globalisation has influenced every part of this globe, and healthcare is no exception. With the enormous impact of technology in the healthcare industry on it’s whole, the patient behaviour & their expectations, care professional roles, and doctor-patient relationships have all evolved and changed. Meanwhile, the non quantifiable like these have changed enormously in recent times, the technological advancements are still made on the SOPs made in the past, leaving us with a healthcare systems haunted by the ghosts of the pasts & jammed with the growing expectations of its stakeholders.  

If played on its merits, care practitioners can leverage technology in their favour by enhancing patient care satisfaction and elevating doctor-patient trust.

For example, Dr Prakash Sharma, a renowned Cardiologist  diligently points out the small yet significant changes in doctor visits in the last two decades —

  • Patients hate waiting in lines for appointments or bill payments, which is why most of his appointment scheduling has shifted to digital payments and telephone calls before the patient actually arrives.
  • Patients living at far away localities in cities prefer primary consultations via video calls and would happily visit the clinic for their second consultation if required. 
  • Patients are now getting conscious about  preventive care and like to evaluate the possibilities of developing a disease via genetic or lifestyle related issues.
  • Not all patients prefer an in-person primary doctor often, they are satisfied with Telemedicine consultations or any other health related instruction. 
  • Overwhelming medical expenses can demotivate patient will to seek medical help; a healthcare practitioner is expected to find ways to decrease the overall medical costs to eliminate the burden of medical bills on doctor-patient relationship.   

Dr Prakash Sharma further speaks of the impact of empathic and clear communications. As a doctor, he feels — “It is an indicator of competence and skills. It enables my patients to express their illness and establishes a friendly connection with me which encourages their treatment and medication adherence”

When asked, if it is okay to be friendly with patients? 

He nodded ‘YES’. It’s easier to converse with patients when they perceive doctors as friendly. This relationship isn’t just easier to break down a patient’s anxiety levels but allow the care practitioner to make deductions of the factors influencing the overall treatment’s outcome. However, he warns to be wary of the risks of becoming friends with a patient. It could distort a doctor’s judgement. Nevertheless, having a friendly interaction is not against the law and has reported positive outcomes, mostly! 

THE FOREVER CHANGED DOCTOR VISITS 

Technology is re-structuring the doctor-patient relationship and re-defining their roles in the healthcare system. Bringing in a sustainable method in healthcare, Telemedicine eased-up the consumers and providers responsibilities on a single platform while enabling the healthcare system to reduce the overall care cost. With the increase in virtual healthcare visits, medicos are now being able to facilitate primary care at any time, anywhere with just a few clicks on their mobile phone. Today, digital technology has transformed healthcare enough to provide excellent primary care with the assistance of easy-to-set up, remote satellite clinics. And, assist medicos to insure continued care via homecare healthtech devices. 

Currently, digital technologies are revolutionising care delivery by assisting it to be more precise and personalised to an individual’s need. Enhancing value-based care in the years to come. 

HArbor Says:

The common misconception of doctor consultations being merely about treating the disease is outdated and with changing healthcare stakeholders’ behavior, the healthcare world is shifting its gears towards a stress free, sustainable and secured healthcare. And, if that involves simplifying the conventional and tiresome doctor visits, then so be it! 

Ever thought about what clinics of the future would look like?

If not yet, then here is a good start as the care delivery design is gradually changing and influencing all our lives as DOCTORS, PATIENTS, HEALTHCARE STAFF and well everyone!

Source: Google

Cost-effective, timely and efficient are some of the oft-used adjuncts when healthcare leaders discuss tech in the medical industry. Convinced as they are regarding the impact of technology in healthcare, we must admit that they are mostly right, generally because we have seen the vital role of technology from disease diagnosis to care delivery during COVID-19 Pandemic. Although, it goes without saying that tech has ‘waved at the tides of chaos’ in the existing healthcare system, but it wasn’t all so good – was it?

Let’s face it, the issues that technology has caused in the existing healthcare systems during COVID-19 pandemic point toward the lack of infrastructure and trained workforce in healthcare systems. And, if someone should take the blame for it, it should be tech literacy in the healthcare workforce which can be resolved with optimum training!  

Fast forward to the present — today, healthtech systems have also caught the attention of Governmental organisations, Private Practitioners & as well as Patients, who find it an accessible and efficient form of care delivery.

In between the rising expectations of healthcare stakeholders and healthtech companies aspiring to fill these up silos using in the age-old healthcare system, the future of healthcare delivery looks quite different from the healthcare units of today. 

Towards Digital Health

The digital age has given rise to a whole variety of online services, apps and virtual tools that have made our lives easier in so many ways. From booking a flight to finding the perfect holiday destination, we can access information and services on demand with just the click of a mouse or tap of an app. Many traditional industries have been forever changed by this new way of doing things – and healthcare is no exception. The medical world has also been transformed by the digital age, with AI-assisted diagnosis, Automated Reception-desks, Remote patient Monitoring and Telemedicine, all found commonly in diverse specialties. With several innovations taking place within healthcare, what does the future hold for a doctor’s visit?

Source: freepik

Let’s take a closer look —

Medical Consultations

Being a patient, imagine getting a doctor’s appointment, on-time consultations and easy check-out – feels like a blessing, right?

In digital/virtual clinics, this is very much a reality, with just a few taps on your phone, enabling you to seek treatment from the comfort of your home. Such digital clinics can efficiently reduce the overall care expense to a great extent. With inpatient health care services being pushed to home via easy-to-use vital monitoring tools, digital health also guarantees to elevate personalisation in healthcare. 


Although many complicated medical cases and severely ill patients will continue to need acute inpatient services, but, at least the primary consultations are expected to be faster and hassle-free. 

For medicos, other than showing up to less crowded clinic hallways, they can monitor patients intermittently, while collaborating with specialists in other locations about diagnosis or treatment. Not only they’ll be able to make a prognosis in virtual clinic rooms but will reduce the patient load from secondary and tertiary hospitals. All this while, such virtual clinics will give a chance to primary care providers to expand their services in remote/rural locations by setting up  Satellite OP-Clinics in the destination of their choice. 

Other than the healthcare delivery reach, the existing care system is struggling because of poor healthcare record systems and digital clinics of the future seem to have a solution for it. 

Medical Records and Data Security

If you search for your medical records, it is a stack of ‘yellow pages’ with clinics/hospital & diagnostic centre logos — Too old to be read and too fragmented to base a diagnosis on!  This fragmentation usually happens at the primary care level, presenting a challenge for secondary & tertiary care units while delivering better patient care. In response to this challenge, digital healthcare records have emerged as the new standard for healthcare management making medical records more streamlined and secure than ever before. 

While operating via digital clinics and digitising health care records, providers can more easily and accurately track patient care & medications thus reducing medication errors. Additionally, digital healthcare records can be easily shared between providers, which can help improve coordination necessary for personalised care at the grass root levels. For patients, digital healthcare records can help to ensure that their health information is accurate and up-to-date. Additionally, digital healthcare records can give patients more control over their health information and make it easier for them to access their records from anywhere. 

It is understandable that accessibility of medical records will raise several data security issues, and the brilliant minds of IT professionals in healthcare seem to have it covered via below mentioned key functions —

Data Accountability: Medical information is protected by ensuring health care providers are accountable for their access and the platforms that are used to deliver virtual-care protect the data via role-based access control

  1. Master Backups: Eliminating all the middle-men and being the sole-key person to access the data from cloud reserves will reduce the data breaching issues in healthcare to great extent. The future digital clinics consist of such EMR modules that are absolutely unbreachable. 

The journey towards digital healthcare delivery has already begun; now the question is, do you see yourself associating with the advancements in healthcare?

HArborSays

The involvement of technology in healthcare, stakeholders behaviour and overall economic challenges are evolving the way we perceive healthcare. Moreover, with secondary and tertiary healthcare units adapting tech-driven solutions to enhance the care outcomes, and somehow the silos in the primary healthcare structure are unblurred. Hence, the introduction of Digital Clinics in primary care not only promises to support the exponential care requirements but will cement the age-old care delivery issues.  

It is time to change the healthcare delivery practices from the core, make way for Digital Healthcare units! 

Ghanshyam- A Vegetable Vendor with Chronic Ailments

A vegetable vendor, Ghanshyam from a rural area of Sitapur with health aliments, relies on the Government health centre in his village. He is aware of his deteriorating health but prefers to visit the facility only when his condition becomes unbearable. 

Caption: The conversation between PHC doctors and Ghanshyam

Irrespective of his rare visits, he was optimally treated by Dr Ram, in-charge of the PHC and was suggested further tests to confirm the prognosis. Ghanshyam, being ignorant of his condition, hoped that this ‘temporary’ alignment would go away with traditional home remedies. And, thus he ignored the tests, medicines and routine follow-up requests suggested by his primary doctor. 

After a few days, when he got severely ill, he was admitted to a Government Medical College in his district. When his wife was asked about his condition and related healthcare records, sadly she didn’t have any. With no previous history and medication data, the doctors started their protocol procedure followed by tests one by one. 

This led to, 

– Delayed diagnosis and treatment resulting in deterioration of health.

– Time, Energy and Resources spent by Ghyansham and his family while travelling to GMC. 

– Prolonged days of pain and illness.

After running all the tests, doctors concluded the diagnosis, which turned out to be a condition due to a simple chronic disease. 

If only, Ghanshyam had taken his primary doctor’s treatment seriously, he and his family would have avoided this unfortunate event and contained the disease in its initial days. 

If only, Dr. Ram had a health tech platform which would keep consistent reminders of appointments, and treatment for his patients, his patients would have been better literate about their health. 

Like Ghanshyam, several other examples are living in every corner of India and facing the consequences of ignoring health. 

Low health literacy levels can negatively impact an individual’s ability to navigate the healthcare system, manage chronic diseases, follow a healthy diet, and monitor medication. 

Don’t be like Ghansham, be responsive to your doctor’s treatment. 

Don’t be like Dr Ram, be responsible for your patient’s adherence to your treatment.  

Be a part of our mission to strengthen the health literacy rate in India. Join us today! 

https://harborvision.in/contact.html

ARE THE GHOSTS OF THE PAST, HAUNTING THE FUTURE OF HEALTHCARE IN INDIA?

Healthcare has always been an integral part of our lives. India, the country of ‘AYURVEDIC’ practices has seen its glorious tradition of public health service from 5500–1300 BCE when the likes of Sushruta and Saints performed care-giving as practice. Ever since then, the objective of delivering healthcare to ‘everyone’ has indeed presented a spectrum of contrasting landscapes. Fast forward to the present, the healthcare sector has made prolific advancements, but its leaders and care providers are still appalled by the same challenge every now and then. The situation of the present healthcare delivery system is an eye opener and, make no mistake, it will be a ticking time bomb, unless it is systemically fixed.

Truth be told, several attempts have been made to enhance healthcare delivery in India since 1983, when the first National Health Policy of India (NHP) was formulated. With central and state governments trying their best to put forward the most ‘suitable’ policies to provide healthcare for all, very little has been done to make space for the integration of advancements of the future. 

In fact, when the seismic effects of technology in healthcare commenced the change to strengthen the existing care delivery system in India, the outdated infrastructure and policies limited this partnership between healthcare & technology, in the first few phases while leaving us in doubt about its excellence.

Although, there are several challenges in the path of the advancement of digital healthcare in India, let us add a little more light on basic infrastructure and healthcare policies. 

India has a three-tier structure that comprises primary, secondary and tertiary care. This structure further segregates the primary care via sub-centres, primary health centre (PHC), and community health centre (CHC) and sometimes, even Anganwadis. The secondary care is largely delivered through district and sub-district hospitals while on the other hand, tertiary care is extended at state and central level institutions, super/multi specialty hospitals. While this system looks ‘perfect’ to facilitate healthcare coverage even at the extreme corners of the country, the ground realities are different than we anticipate!


Even after creating huge buildings and infrastructures across the country, the existing public healthcare system is still relatively inaccessible, inefficient and primitive for its stakeholders. This makes the public healthcare system, undesirable for a large part of the communities, even though many still avail it for its “free-of-cost” approach.

According to a study —

“Despite private healthcare being four times more expensive, 72% of rural and 79% of urban residents would not trust a public healthcare facility.”

On one hand, the statistics present patient experience and care outcome concerns, and on the other, it questions us if this has always been the case. The answer is No. In its initial days, Public healthcare in India was preferred by everyone and has assisted care professionals to deliver care to the patients. However, the times have changed, and so have the patient’s expectations; delivery methods and even treatments, but public healthcare infrastructure, policies and care-givers in India remain stuck in the old times, enjoying past glory without preparing for the future.

The blame for the underdevelopment of the healthcare delivery system in India also lies on the shoulders of ‘ancient’ healthcare policies & norms that we still follow. Moreover, these “dinosaur-era” policies remain to be one of the most significant factors why establishing digital healthcare delivery is so hard in India.

The Role Healthcare Policies in Healthcare Delivery

Since its establishment in 1983, the National Healthcare Policy was hardly revised till 2002. As for the latest National Health Policy (NHP) 2017 highlights, it presented the ‘Health for All’ approach to provide assured healthcare for all at an affordable cost. With schemes like Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM) and Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY) we are possibly even pacing up towards the vision of better healthcare practices, but as stakeholders are we ready for it? 

Earlier in 2021, when the Ministry of Health announced the National Digital Health Mission, to digitise the existing healthcare structure, the policymakers certainly overestimated its results. The adoption of such remarkable policies has been much slow because we overlooked the ground-level reality check. The current state of the system lacks skilled professionals, it has low technology literacy and even the basic infrastructure to sustain these changes have corroded with time.  

The truth is Digital health and the existing healthcare design is still at a crossroad. These are the times, when we as a civilization are facing a mounting healthcare crisis extensively exposed by COVID combined with Natural Disasters, Heavy Rains combined with an ever-increasing burden of disease with ever increasing population, resulting in low care quality.

These aged policies are hampering the adoption of digital health solutions in India. Interestingly, on the other hand, the time tested way of delivering “non-digital care” has also been affected by these policies. For example : 

  • The norms of establishing healthcare facilities required a certain minimum land acquisition which increased the project cost by multiple times. 
  • The process of hiring medical staff is tedious, requires “caste certificates” and numerous rounds of approvals.

This has had a knock-out effect on the development of any sort of health solutions, as many of the modern day solutions require a fresh look at things from beyond the purview of the ancient policies. 

As a result, the potential benefits of digital health are not being realised in India, and the country’s healthcare system is still struggling to keep up with the demands of a rapidly growing population. It is essential that the government revises its policies in order to allow modern health solutions to flourish in India. Only then will the country be able to address its healthcare challenges sustainably and effectively.

From the Stakeholders Perspectives —

Ideally, digitization and modernization of the healthcare system must optimise the practice of doctors, enhance patient-doctor communication to improve patient outcomes. But, since the introduction of ABDM in 2021, the statistics showed a mixed response from the major stakeholders of healthcare. Wherein, the urban regions of the country showed significant adoption rates concerning Virtual Care Modules, but in the rural areas, nothing has changed. Infact, the ‘burden of digitization’ on the ‘Gramin’ healthcare system’ has created nothing but chaos! 

Often the challenges that care professionals go through are due to age-old infrastructure or outdated policies. And, it is evident that until we redesign the healthcare delivery systems according to care professionals and the beneficiaries, we ain’t moving anywhere. Below is a small example of a public health doctor, exposing lack of infrastructure and trained medical professionals which would help him execute his duty. 

Read the full answer here. 

On the other hand, when we have unnecessary policies on the infrastructure side, we totally lack policies, guidelines and regulations on the data security side. This has led to data theft, misuse of digital prescriptions, electronic health records, fraudulent practices and solicitation in the form of listing websites in the noble field of care delivery.

HArborSays:

Change is often not so easy but, when the existing policies and regulations lead to insufficient care experiences for the beneficiaries as well as the service providers, it is time we change them. We must modernise them. And, it must start with changing the age-old perspective toward healthcare delivery. An approach that remains more India-centric in healthcare tech while keeping all the major stakeholders on a single platform. 

Here at HArbor, we have already started our journey by simplifying care practices for medicos to assist them to deliver the best care outcomes possible.

Connect with us to know how HArbor platform can help your care facility!