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.
- Facilitate online/in-app appointment scheduling.
- Encourage Telemedicine appointments for follow-ups or diagnostic report evaluations.
- Opt for standalone-OPD satellite centres with integrated assisted telemedicine and Point-of-care-testing(POCT) in remote locations.
- 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.
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