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

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!  

Why is Point-of-care Testing crucial for Primary Care?

For promoting evidence-based medical decisions & better outcomes.

Source: Google

While waiting for a cost-effective, consistent and faster mode of healthcare delivery, millions of patients go unnoticed every year. In India, this substantive reality hits even worse with the reports explaining the spike in mortality rate even for the diseases that can be cured. This suggests a significant issue in the healthcare system, affecting a large population cohort. A system that has advanced over the years is yet to reach the ultimate milestone and still has major limitations while facilitating care.

For instance, people living in rural or remote parts of the country are expected to travel long distances to avail healthcare. This increases the cost of care and causes inconvenience to the patients during their treatment. One of the most severely affected groups are the low-income communities as this population is struggling due to high “out-of-pocket” care expenses and travelling on an average of 94 Km for every test and follow-up report can get frustrating! Moreover, even if the sample is collected at the patient’s location to send to a far-away diagnostic centre, the sample’s integrity cannot be trusted, which in turn, can result in false positives or no result at all.

Often cited as one of the major healthcare barriers, long distance travelling is quite a cause of concern for doctors as well as lead to missing appointments, rescheduled consultations, delayed care, and missed or delayed medication use. Furthermore, this restricts the medicos to deliver care with poorer chronic illness management; eventually resulting in an unsatisfactory patient experience.

Although transportation barriers can be challenging to deal with, a change in perspective while searching for a solution can benefit the stakeholders involved. This means – when disease prognosis comes at the expense of PATIENT EXPERIENCE and TIME, healthcare delivery processes need to be re-structured for those who cannot show up now and then for a diagnosis or regular follow-ups. This calls for introducing point-of-care testing(POCT) kits in healthcare delivery.

Establishing point-of-care testing kits(POCT) in remote locations is a cost-effective alternative and can be easily operated by trained paramedics. These remote care units are equipped with Rapid Test Kits(RTKs) along with some basic medical instruments like handheld  and battery Electrocardiograms (ECGs),  Haematology / Blood Analyzers, Biochemistry Analysers, Thyroid and Urine Testers, Blood Pressure & Sugar Machines and several other such devices that can deliver instant disease diagnosis along with facilitating them with continued treatment via assisted telemedicine.  

says,

“The faster the prognosis, the better the treatment”

Dr. Prabhakar Hiwarkar, Retd. Asst. Dean, Community Health Department, GMC, Yavatmal.

The idea of point-of-care has been existing for ages. Since its inception around 6,000 years ago with the introduction of “urinalysis,” POCT has been advanced and adapted by many secondary and tertiary hospitals in India. Today, they have evolved to include blood gas testing, electrolytes analysis, rapid coagulation testing, rapid cardiac markers diagnostics and more, to save precious treatment time and enhance patient experience (while moving around the diagnostic department for tests). At times, these rapid tests have also proved their excellence in the emergency situation by assisting care practitioners to reach a confirmed diagnosis and treatment plan. 

When every minute counts and specimen integrity is at risk, point-of-testing may prove to be a miracle that will save a patient’s life!

Dr. Shilpa Chaudhary, a leading trauma surgeon. 

However, primary healthcare in India is yet to get its hands on POCT. There are several reasons why point-of-care is not seen in primary care in India. 

First, primary care providers in India often do not have the training or experience necessary to effectively use point-of-care technologies. 

Second, setting up these point of care testing camps temporarily, can be expensive, and many primary care providers in India do not have the financial resources to do so. 

What if we tell you that there are several point-of-care integrated practice management platforms in India that are not only cost effective but are lightweight. These free-standing care delivery modules not only assist you to reach your patients at any corner of the country at ease, but ensures an overall reduced setup cost. 

Want more, we’ll suggest you check out kiosk-based remote satellite centres by HArbor!  

HarborSays: 

Talking about better healthcare outcomes, it is crucial to note that diagnosing a disease is not enough, we need healthcare systems that deliver care “on-the-spot” as well. With the emergence of healthtech, leveraging the point-of-care modules along with assisted-telemedicine will assist care facilities in easy patient data capturing and analysis, review reports and suggest treatment in a few clicks. Moreover, using the same technology across multiple settings will maximise efficiency for the clinician, and can therefore expedite treatment courses while establishing evidence-based medical decisions & better outcomes.


	

Changing healthcare dynamics – Here’s what you should expect! 

Source: Google

While continuing to adjust with evolving dynamics, the traditional stakeholders of the healthcare industry are beginning to integrate with new and diverse players in the system, focused on expediting the use of technology in healthcare.

Traditionally, the stakeholders in the care value chain used a more static approach towards operations and expansion which has become more dynamic with the entry of new age operators. This disparity also affects the patients and has divided them into largely two groups, where one group of care seekers are the one’s who prefer the less fancy, age-old ways of treatment – driven by experienced yet old-schooled doctors and the new-age millennials who prefer tech savvy caregivers.

This blog is your window-view to how the healthcare stakeholders behavior is changing with the evolving healthcare market! 

Evolution of personalised healthcare in the healthTech age.

As healthcare becomes more personalised, the stakes are higher than ever to provide high-quality care in a cost-effective manner. The healthTech age has seen the evolution of personalised healthcare, with patients now able to access their own health data and receive tailored care based on their individual needs. This shift has been made possible by advances in technology, which have allowed for the development of new tools and applications that make it easier for patients to track their health data and receive the care they need. 


Healthcare providers are also recognising the potential of personalised healthcare, and are beginning to offer more services that are tailored to individual patients. This is a positive trend, as it means that patients will have access to the care they need, and that healthcare providers can offer more targeted and effective care.

“For instance, you would be surprised to know that a team lead under Issam Zineh, Director of CDER’s Office of Clinical Pharmacology, has been working on using genetic or other biomarker information to make treatment decisions about patients for over a decade. This means, even the drug that is going to be prescribed, will be customised for each patient.

Mobile is now part of the fabric — every day in everybody’s life. 

If you’re not looking at mobile solutions, then you’re not really looking at all to solve your care delivery problems. Mobile-based solutions are one of the most significantly increased access to point-of-care tools for every stakeholder in the healthcare industry.  

“According to survey reports by NCBI, 85% of the healthcare stakeholders were found to be using their mobile device at least once daily for clinical purposes.” 

Other than supporting fast clinical decision-making and improved patient outcomes, mobile-based healthcare solutions have a higher penetration rate amongst every age group of the users. Moreso, It is extremely important to implement different solutions that can be easily interpreted and understood by stakeholders. Hence, from simplifying the day-to-day management of the healthcare organisation to being an active care participant mobile-based healthcare apps will be the next big thing in healthcare. 

The use of mobile devices also increases tech adoption between the staff of the medical facilities and thus brings better accountability and reduces the changes of human errors since technology can easily send alerts and validations on each step that the procedure team takes. This improves the efficiency of care-giving but also assures patients of better care thus improving trust.

Healthcare is ageing and so is the global population, so you need a system!

The pace of population ageing is much faster than in the past and as reported by WHO in a shocking report, WHO stats, “Around 80% of older people will be living in low- and middle-income countries”

The age demographic shift will have a profound impact on healthcare systems around the world. The challenges posed by an ageing population are numerous and far-reaching, and they will require innovative solutions from all sectors of the healthcare industry.

The first challenge is simply meeting the increased demand for healthcare services. This will put strain on already overburdened healthcare systems.

The second challenge is the cost of care. As people live longer, the cost of their care will increase. This will put pressure on healthcare budgets and it will force tough choices about which services to provide and which to cut.

The third challenge is the workforce. Limited healthcare workers in rural/remote areas. 

Utilising technology to resolve these issues is the need of the hour and being a healthcare provider/leader your first course of action must head towards delivering person-centred integrated primary care and facilitating them with access to assisted-long-term care.

Patients are ‘not just receivers’ anymore!

From managing their own health to the level of awareness a patient has about their needs while in nursing, the spectrum of patient engagement has been conceptualised variedly. Some patients are viewed as passive recipients of care and some are categorised to be active stakeholders. With a significant shift in the numbers of active stakeholders in healthcare, healthcare systems can no longer practise the age-old passive-recipient focused protocols and expect patient satisfaction! 

In such a case, we need systems that support patients in engaging with their care. Starting with the modules that elevate the active recipients in healthcare, enhancing patient engagement and eventually better health outcomes and experiences of health care. 

Where shall we start from?

By addressing the basic ‘issues’ in healthcare, relief amongst the healthcare stakeholders can be expected. In the last few years, the healthcare industry has expanded its roots with the new discoveries and technology and now that the healthcare market is ripe with possibilities, let’s reap the fruits of better healthcare for all!

HArborSays: 

Healthcare dynamics are constantly changing and so is the behavior of its stakeholders. Thus, the hunt for ideal healthcare solutions has concurred healthcare leaders with disappointment. However, in the middle of aggravated dynamic complexities in healthcare, if we can expect the best possible solutions that can bring an overhaul of the existing system; we can redesign it brick by brick as well!

Fresh out of a Medical College? 

Here’s what you should expect & do while creating your identity in Healthcare industry — literally and figuratively! 

A highly intricate course – Medicine is exceptionally competitive. Even though only a few candidates pull through their residency, they often get entangled with the system processes. Apparently, there are certain things that even years of medical training don’t prepare you for! However, with healthcare changing its pace and relying on technology more than ever, you must get acquainted with the ‘REAL’ healthcare world.

For a doctor, some days are more teary than the others, but it is unfortunate when you have been overlooked during the healthcare system’s handpicking. The system usually prefers candidates with specialisation degrees, which shouldn’t be a problem if you can invest time and money to get it all done. However, if you’re dreaming of starting medical practice right after the MBBS, unfortunately this funneling limits your options. Then, what should a ‘mere MBBS’ graduate do? How about —

Study or prepare for masters while making money!

Interesting right? As easy as it sounds, it is a tried and tested method that has been adopted by many but has also disappointed quite a few. Let us rephrase – hustling between the PG coaching centres and making appearances at a nearby polyclinic as an intern will burn you out! Did you know – only 2-4% of a batch secures a seat in their first attempt immediately after graduating. And, the cycle of attempting to grab that PG seat will continue to burn you out while coaching centres monetize your misery. 

Sadly, it’s difficult to get through a PG entrance exam without good guidance, but starting a virtual OPD centre can be a dazzling alternative to practice and getting paid. Virtual care practice facilitates you to consult patients according to your convenience and helps you save your precious time while preparing for your masters. Now, not only can you consult patients from anywhere at any time, you can slowly build up your clientele and keep adding more to the list using a simple application. 

  • Invest for your future medical practice while earning in present

Virtual consultations  have been witnessing an action-packed period and if you’re willing to invest a little more into standalone healthcare modules, you can have your OPD in any part of the country. Just like a clinic on wheels but better, as these healthcare Kiosks are assisted telemedicine  which can be handled by a paramedic or trained nurse. You can even collaborate with fellow MBBS colleagues and this kind of a clinic can be up and running in no time. Once you complete your masters, you’ll already have a set-up ready to branch out, benefiting you in multi-folds. 

In a country where medical courses become a family’s ‘cosmic concern’, it gets even worse with family owned care facilities. Often, family healthcare businesses can be plattered as an expectations-attached heirloom. Unlike any other family business, Healthcare family businesses often expect ‘next in kin’ doctors to level up the game. Reduce the operational costs, expand the care reach while generating revenues and ease the pain of long-working hours. Introducing smart care facility management is a good way to start the process of levelling up your generation’s old family medical business. 

Introducing a smart clinic management solution will assist you with day-in and day-out management processes and align the care facility with your future goals. Be it expanding  into a clinic chain or enhancing patient reach, finding a healthtech tech platform should be your first course of action while joining the family healthcare team.

More so, it is to note that the focus of change isn’t changing care practices but advancing healthcare delivery while creating a value-based healthcare system. 

At this point, the road towards value-based care has put forward several opportunities as well as challenges for Indian healthcare practices. Today, your patient is relatively less interested in paying for services only but is more aware of the overall care experience. Believe it or not, healthtech can assist you in keeping your patients satisfied with continued care, eliminating fragmentation and creating easily accessible medical facilities. And, a healthtech platform does it rather tirelessly and with precision!

HArbor Says:

The bottom line is, You did it — you’re finally out of medical school! It’s been a long and tough journey, but you made it. As you may have already noticed, the healthcare industry is vastly growing and changing every day. From a practice standpoint, it can be a bit of a challenge for new grads to find their way in this industry. The smartest move here would be to invest your time in building your skills, meanwhile gradually investing in creating your own brand.

Difference of perspective in healthcare between techies: who design the systems and medicos: who use it.

There are no facts, only interpretations, and in business when the perspectives of everyone involved aren’t aligned, often the finish line gets blurry! In healthcare, doctors and techies are going through something very similar and it has affected the advancement of healthcare delivery systems. At this point, addressing the dynamics of their viewpoint is not only crucial for tech adoption in healthcare but it is also the key to keeping up with ever-evolving healthcare needs.  

HealthTech continues to push the boundaries of how care is delivered and, to an extent, the results are outstanding. However, on the flip side, technological penetration has seen the struggles of care professionals while trying to keep up with the new-age modules.

If you are a doctor practicing in India, you must be dealing with a heavy load of patients every day. With a time crunch caused by the sheer number of OPs you manage, you need a system that reduces your efforts while managing a care facility and speed up your care delivery. Often doctors are inclined to take the shortest possible route during a patient’s treatment and while doing so, they might not always choose the SOPs designed by a healthtech system. Practically, for them, its shortage of time v/s the most efficient or standardized way. On the other hand, a tech expert’s approach comes from an ‘ideal’ space that looks ‘perfect’ theoretically, but, may not live up to a care professional’s expectations.

Hence, several ideal yet ‘practically flawed’ healthtech platforms may get approved easily but are rarely adopted by the doctors. Hence, working towards creating practical systems will not only eliminate the barriers in the way of healthtech adoption, but will also assist in maintaining the standardised SOPs across a healthcare system. 

However, while talking about creating standardised SOPs, one must consider healthcare’s dynamic nature! 

Imagine, being a technology expert and creating a healthtech system that your client needs and even after delivering a well-designed platform, they ask you to change the functionalities according to their requirements, every now and then. Difficult right? The healthcare environment consists of enduring patterns of practice which are constantly evolving to meet the challenges and opportunities of changing times. Putting the techies in a position where by the time they create a ‘doctor-friendly system’, medicos might be fascinated with something new.

It is crucial to note that Tech experts are at the forefront of designing technology that works in tandem with healthcare professionals. While designing healthcare platforms, if techies are obligated to create a system that medicos needs; medicos must keep their expectations to a deliverable range.

HArbor Says: 

In healthcare, clinicians are the individuals who work directly with patients. They are the ones who evaluate, diagnose, and treat patients. Techies on the other hand, are individuals who focus on the technology that physicians use in daily work. Clinicians and techies often operate with different goals and objectives. We believe that this battle of perspectives can easily be resolved by focusing on collaboration rather than competing with each other. 

Can HealthTech take the temperature-off of the Healthcare Worker Shortages?

When a system flourishes on default and not by design, its foundation experiences chaos. It fails to manage & utilize resources, resolve the existing problems and disrupts revenue cycles which is crucial to keep it fueled. Unfortunately, due to its disorganized growth, it faces difficulty while adapting new-age modules; we call these advanced modules ‘the helping hands’!

India’s healthcare system is no different. Carrying the weight of the entire system, care professionals are not just working their fingers to the bone but burning their potential capacity to zero! Now, the only question remains;

DOES INDIA REALLY LACK AN OPTIMUM HEALTHCARE WORKFORCE? 

According to WHO’s 2020 midterm report, the Indian healthcare system needs at least 1.8 million doctors, nurses and midwives to achieve the minimum threshold of 44.5 professional health workers per 10,000 people. 

Number of health professionals/workers per 10,000 persons, 2018

So yes, our healthcare system needs an additional workforce, but this inference shall not excuse the adverse effects of disrupted healthcare structure on healthcare professionals. And first, it is of great importance to understand the impact of relatively old and disorganized healthcare practices in private and public health spheres that are not ideal anymore!

Outdated Management

In all the loud and necessary debates about resolving the staff shortages in India, the conventional care management has been constantly overlooked. Although the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is striving to improve the healthcare sector with several initiatives, policywise; the workflow foundation of the majority of primary healthcare centres (the heart of the system) is too old to sustain the load. Outdated management exhibits tragically slower workflows, reduced care efficiencies and pressurizes the care professionals to share the responsibility. A load which can be perfectly handled by practice management software.

Simply put, healthtech solutions for practice management can efficiently assist every healthcare stakeholder, especially doctors, nurses and administrative personnel. Such solutions not only eliminate the redundant and manual processes but also build standard protocols for care procedures for anyone and everyone to follow. Thereby reducing re-work or any last-minute extra shifts.

Fragmented Care Delivery and Manual Processes 

While talking about tiring manual care modules, this discussion must take the responsibility to address the strain of fragmented care delivery on healthcare professionals. Our healthcare system is an unbalanced rather ‘broken structure’ at the grassroots level that lacks an integral value chain. It restricts care professionals to coordinate smoothly during patient care while burdening care facilities during referrals, record maintenance and designing treatment protocols.  

HealthTech platforms in such scenarios will not just streamline patient care delivery, but will eliminate the cumbersome and unnecessary processes. As a result, facility staff will always have more than enough time for patient care without worrying about tedious and redundant administrative work. 

Lack of Data Interoperability and Lack of Data Protection

A doctor spends around 35% of their time documenting patient data. What if managing patient data becomes as easy as tapping a few times on your phone while sharing it with a swipe?

You probably do not believe this but the funds, time and workforce required to maintain paper-based healthcare records are noticeably high. In fact, the expensive paper-record maintenance should be enough for medicos to consider switching to healthTech platforms. Yet, the vicious cycle of filling up MRD rooms and dedicating valuable staff working hours every month has become more of a healthcare ‘habit’ than a practice.

Paper based medical records slow down the data exchange process between its stakeholders, which means treatment delays and disruptions in care professionals’ schedules. Moreover, paper medical records are prone to tampering, stealing and are even hard to retrieve.

A modern EMR can come with cloud-based storage that guarantees maximum data security and the convenience of retrieving the medical records at their fingertips. Not only are these records encrypted and password-protected with correct authorization, care practitioners can exchange data and compile it all under a single patient ID within a few minutes. The Governement of India, has even started working on something on similar lines, with the visionary Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission, ABDM, where they have envisioned a central EMR storage for citizens of India. 

Automated and faster processes may not be a long term solution for staff shortages in healthcare but it will have a significant impact on care practices and workplace conditions. Hence, it is justified to say that since the healthcare system is ‘stuck in time’, integrating healthtech platforms from ground zero (primary care facilities) should be our first call. And there by, improving physician response times, increasing efficiency and transforming team communications.

The Impact of Skilled and unskilled care professionals in Healthcare

To resolve the shortage of healthcare workers in India, it is also important to analyze the number of skilled and non-skilled professionals in the domain. According to a report published in the journal BMJ Open, India does not meet the minimum threshold of 22.8 skilled workers per 10,000 people as recommended by the WHO (World Health Organization). However, the study revealed an alarmingly large number of low qualified health professionals and low performing workers. These care professionals usually come under the first point of contact in low economic and rural parts of the country. 

When distribution and qualification of health professionals is serious problem, healthTech platforms will not only keep standard care processes in place, but will enhance overall productivity in care facilities. The SOPs designed by these platforms will eventually reduce any illegal practice, medical data breach and errors while delivering care.

HArbor Says

One of the biggest challenges faced by the Healthcare industry is the constant shortage of skilled workers. The increasing demand for qualified medical professionals has led to the creation of thousands of new jobs, but the industry can’t seem to find enough qualified workers to fill them. This has prompted many to ask if technology could solve this problem. Only technology can be used to “create efficiencies, automate tasks, and address staffing gaps through technology.”

Undoubtedly, India needs to invest in Human Resource for Health, HRH for increasing the number of active health workers but also needs to integrate healthTech platforms to improve the skill-mix and overall care practices.