Fixing healthcare gaps step-by-step with Technology in India

COVID Pandemic has held back the best of humankind and their businesses. Especially, the healthcare facilities across the world, who were seen struggling to contain the devastation brought on by a sharp increase in the infected cases. Despite all the hard work of medical professionals, the healthcare systems currently in place couldn’t manage the sheer number of patients visiting the already cramped medical facilities resulting in uneven care and even further reduced healthcare accessibility for urban as well as rural populations. Though healthcare leaders & policymakers have tried incremental fixes to the current systems, the final goal of creating better healthcare technology for the ‘patients’ is still a far fetched dream for India.

All of these problems in addition to the lack of literacy to use technology products in India led to bad patient care experiences. Moreover, the existing healthcare technology systems aren’t serving in medicos interests for reducing their load and it’s high time that it should be fixed!

Reasons For Gaps In Healthcare System

Healthcare systems are created for maximizing value. When we are redefining healthcare, it is a must that we step away from the fragmented healthcare systems that lack coordination. These un-synced care facilities create unnecessary stress – followed by lengthy treatment procedures, health risks to the patients and unsatisfied care experience. More so, it adversely impacts quality, cost, and outcomes.

Wouldn’t an integrated care delivery system(IDS) resolve the problem of inefficient allocation of resources to improve care quality & optimize operations?

Yes, it most definitely can. When a patient visits an OPD, the majority of the treatment is performed at different care units, not necessarily to be under one hospital. These care units include diagnostic centers, pharmacies and the doctor’s chamber. Integrated care delivery platform collects all of the fragmented data in a single EMR report, irrespective of the care unit. Furthermore, an IDS will coordinate and collaborate with health care professionals to achieve clinical outcomes & improving patient care, while easing up care delivery for medicos. However, talking about creating a healthcare system providing a complete EMR, delivering care in rural areas when patients are dependent on quacks or spin doctors for allopathic care is difficult.

Did you know, according to a WHO report, nearly 57% of doctors in India are quacks.’

However, the rise of telemedicine in India facilitated patients from remote corners to connect with the ‘real doctors for actual consultations’. Bringing virtual healthcare systems to rural communities has shown a 300% increase in online consultations in 2020. Furthermore, it reduces patient dependencies on quacks and unburdens them of the unnecessary expenses via online treatment.

As for the already existing quacks in the healthcare system – the Indian population requires an assisted telemedicine modules which can be successfully managed under their supervision. This way assisted telemedicine will be able to enhance and assist in transforming rural healthcare while regularizing and creating job opportunities for an unregulated sector.

In a healthcare system, every stakeholder plays a crucial role in patient treatment. Even after virtually connecting a patient with a certified care provider, the unavailability of tools for assessing health is still a major gap that needs fixing. The establishment of health assessment facilities i.e diagnostic centers in rural areas has special challenges of its own like limited funding and lack of skill set in medical staff other than doctors.

Technological innovations such as POC (point of care) tools and Rapid test kits could help address part of the problem. As yet also hospital ground staff/nurses & even quacks with access to healthcare platforms that can easily interpret the diagnostic data while facilitating continued care in rural/remote locations. This is probably the best possible way for creating & delivering complete patient care, even in remote areas.

Data is the new oil for the world but in healthcare, it has always been the crucial element.’

A complete medical record serves the interest of the medicos and their patients equally, especially when a patient consults multiple doctors and switches one healthcare facility to the other.

Independent, un-connected care facilities create multiple files for the same treatment resulting in unmanageable, untraceable disease origins. More so, when the need for a second opinion arises, the patient’s losing the physical files can never be ruled out in Bharat. This gloomy context of Indian medical record management can easily be fixed with technology. By incorporating EMR integrated healthcare platforms, the healthcare providers can easily manage patient data while sharing it amongst them, obviously with the patient’s consent. With detailed health data, providers can deliver better care & avoid any medical error which was unavoidable in unstructured records.

In an ideal healthcare world, if a perfect interoperable EMR exists then the care will be structured and independent of the patients input to provide treatment data while switching between the care facility”

HArborSays: The traditional health system appears to be coming apart at the seams, and this will likely worsen with time. Hence, now is the time to act and restructure healthcare by fixing the gaps while creating ripples for a positive change in healthcare.

Is a basic Telemedicine tool enough to expand access to essential health?

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc in the healthcare system infecting around 31,726,507 people and more than 425,228 deaths in India. In response to the pandemic, technology adaptation in the healthcare sector has elevated, especially for telemedicine. Inclined to enhance patient engagement & to reach patients in remote locations, healthcare professionals are now expecting more than just a video calling solution.

Basic telemedicine applications have limitations of their own. Furthermore, in the long haul, even if the care is delivered virtually, the results of just an online consultation may not be satisfactory enough!

An OPD consultation involves diagnosing patients while compiling their visit data recorded on paper or digitally. The patient’s medical record may as well include radiology or laboratory reports, doctor’s personal notes and prescription details. During a video consultation, doctors must have an access to health records at their fingertips without waiting around for the clinic secretary to dig through mounds of paper files. Therefore, installing an EMR & Telemedicine integrated platform will enable medicos to retrieve patient data within seconds, thereby speeding up the virtual medical consultations.

The Rise of Telemedicine 2020 report suggested that the pandemic has seen a decline in In-person appointments by 32%, treating home restricted patients virtually to soften the blow of the outbreak. However, the rise in COVID -19 infection rates has force triggered care facility priorities to COVID patients.

But are the COVID cases, our only health crisis?

Raising concerns for the non- patients with chronic, neonatal & psychiatric issues, the COVID caseload has restricted other patients to rely on the prescriptions from their previous follow-ups!

Having said that, a robust telemedicine solution along with an integrated home-care module will promise, optimum health monitoring for continued patient care. These systems can remotely collect, transmit and store information about a patient’s physiological parameters, while enhancing patient care experience and amplifying their connectivity to doctors in multi-folds.

Telemedicine is not just a “Technology” but an advanced medical approach capable of solving time-old issues.

But, with technology, there comes a question of its ability to penetrate deeply and acutely, especially for those living in rural or remote locations. Rural area residents are still struggling to adapt to technology and solve network barriers. As a result, they travel for treatment, risking their health.

By integrating doctors, patients, diagnostics and other healthcare stakeholders on a single platform while operating on a basic network, healthcare practitioners can treat the huge rural population efficiently. Contributing to better future care practices!

For healthcare professionals, it’s difficult to escape the significant care coordination gaps existing due to the lack of data interoperability within the care facility departments. Integrated ecosystems can de-clutter these complex healthcare scenarios bringing a one-stop solution while managing ops from anywhere.

An EMR, Diagnostics, Home-care and Telemedicine integrated healthTech platform can reduce multiple OPD visits. A built-in doctor-centric telemedicine feature will be a cherry on top of such an integrated ecosystem & will help successfully set up virtual waiting rooms while assisting medicos with the ability to pre-book telemedicine appointments.

So, it’s time for medicos to update their Telemedicine services!

HArbor Says: It’s mid-2021, and millions of Indians—now restricted to their homes are still dependent on the services of half-cooked telemedicine tools with minimum care satisfaction. In a pandemic, that’s a public health crisis! Having said that, an integrated healthcare platform is the best fit for the age-old healthcare system issues.

Fast changing care delivery in India; How diagnostic tech needs to upgrade?

COVID pandemic & series of lockdowns has posed a strain on all sectors of the country. However, this virus put an extra amount of pressure on the Diagnostic Sector. With swamps of people being tested and retested every day, wide gaps in the industry created even bigger troubles for the care delivery protocols. With lack of manpower, availability of test kits & machines in the rural areas, the problems are much worse. Very minimum innovation has been done with Diagnostic or Testing centres as compared to solutions available to the medicos. 

 The biggest missing piece from the patient journey in the testing and consultation process is that the doctors and diagnostic centres are still not integrated and operate in absolute unison. These non-communicable systems which are not interoperable create workflows and referral systems for patients which are not only archaic but are also largely human-driven.

 A single OPD consultation requires each patient to have multiple rounds of visits between a doctor chamber and the testing centre. This problem aggravates when the patients are especially visiting a larger centre in other cities. 

 On the other side, the independent diagnostic software or platforms available off the shelf in the market, do not cater to the entire end to end needs of centres. Even after years of its standardization, HL7, a global medical standard aimed for data sanitization and transmission is entirely missing in the country. Very few labs or testing centres in India, follow or implement these globally accepted norms.

 How HealthTech integration in diagnostics will revamp the Healthcare facilities

 Technology adoption in diagnostic centres needs to increase at a rampant pace while creating SOPs(standard operating procedures) as written in the NABL compliance requirements, a system backend process without hampering or lengthening any work for the technicians, pathologists or radiologists. 

 Doctors in OPD Chambers should be integrated directly with their chosen and pre-decided diagnostic and two-way workflows between consulting doctors and diagnostic doctors facilitating patient’s journey should be the central theme of such interoperable platforms. 

 Diagnostic platforms should be able to provide end-to-end center management tools with appointment scheduling, invoicing, report making, inventory management while being compliant with regulatory requirements under NABL and other such bodies. 

 HArbor Says: Though India has made a decade of progress in mere two years, the growth has seen its limitations, which can only be resolved with technology. HealthTech in the post-COVID era will assist the diagnostic sector to upgrade its services, enhance consumer engagement, quick assessment & ensure lab technician safety. 

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