The Road Towards Value-Based Care!

Are Indian care professionals ready? 

The market shift towards value-based care (VBC) presents unprecedented opportunities and challenges for the Indian Healthcare System. Today, patients are no longer interested in just spending for the services, rather they are more aware of the overall experience at the care facility and want better care outcomes!

Did you know, In a global survey by IPSOS, it was found that 49% of Indian doctors were not satisfied with the country’s health system?

Clearly, redesigning the existing healthcare platforms into value-based care would not only benefit patients but will also help to fulfil a healthcare professional’s objectives of better patient engagement and satisfying care delivery. 

How? 

From the patient’s perspective, the Indian healthcare system has always been a ‘fee for service’ model. And, probably they wouldn’t know any other way! This has resulted in a conflict of interest for the patients. Wherein, the healthcare facilities have been focused on the quantity, forgetting the quality of the service. 

With the shift in the gears towards a VBC module, it is true that patients are in for a treat, however, it will also assist care professionals to implement a continuum of care, enhancing patient experience, standardizing outcome, optimizing cost of care, and treatment delivery. 

Are we there yet? 

2019-2021 has given quite a boost to the VBC model. It is an effective recently developed model that involves outcome-based treatment payments and healthcare professionals are rewarded according to the quality of the treatment received. It was developed because of increasing healthcare expenditure, excess healthcare costs are attributed to unnecessary and inefficient services along with uncoordinated care. 

Here is a comparison chart of the traditional fee-for-service and the upcoming value-based care model (from a payment perspective): 

Parameters Fee for Service (FFS)Value-Based Care (VBC)
Relevance Traditional Healthcare modelNew-age healthcare model
RewardA quantity-based model that requires patients to pay for every service irrespective of patient satisfaction A quality-based model in which the care facility charges as per the outcomes of the treatment. 
Patient CentricityCreates a conflict of interest and medicos have to be dependent only on the number of visits, procedures, tests, treatment, etc., which may not always align with their patient health and wellness. A model that enables doctors to keep their patients at the centre of the care while enhancing patient care and engagement. 
Care Outcome Measurement No defined metrics are available, due to which often affect the doctor-patient relationship.   Reimbursements are usually linked to meeting particular performance criteria.

Different Value-Based payments models along with efficient healthcare management platforms can assist you to create simpler processes thereby reducing the cost. So as for you to keep making profits while enhancing patient engagement & satisfaction.  

Let us introduce you to different Value-Based payments methods: 

  1. Bundled payment: This module involves a single collaborated payment for all services which will allow payers to know the payment amount upfront instead of getting the final bill at the end of a treatment course. 

Advantages: This assists the providers to benefit from the savings generated by efficiencies of the streamlined care processes and the payer would spend less. 

Financial risk: Medium to high

  1. Capitation model: Capitation is a model that pays a fixed amount to providers based on the number of patients they have or see. This model allows care providers to collect a set payment per patient which are usually in the form of monthly payments. 

Advantages: Here, when the cost of the service provided is below the capped rate, providers would be rewarded. 

Financial risk: Medium to high

  1. Pay for Performance: In this module, financial incentives/disincentives are linked to the medico’s performance. That means, the bonus is awarded for exceeding a specific metric or a penalty is imposed for falling short of the threshold. 

Advantages: It usually benefits doctors in a tertiary healthcare facility, where care professionals are subjected to receive a bonus in addition to the FFS rates, according to their performance. 

Financial risk: Low to medium

  1. Patient-centred Home Care Payment: This is driven by primary care focusing on building a team of professionals – specialist doctors, medical assistants, technicians, pharmacists. 

Advantages: Such a module will reduce readmissions and emergency department visits for patients with chronic conditions. Here the provider can negotiate fees and the payment intervals.  

Financial risk: Moderate

Is India Ready to Implement Value-based Healthcare? 

The Indian Healthcare System largely operates on the FFS(fee-for-service) model and has a high OOPE (out-of-pocket-expenditure) along with inadequate infrastructure and technology support. With the low adoption rate of healthtech in the country, we might struggle to get on value-based care models, which is a need of the hour! Also, limited accessibility of electronic medical records (EMRs) suggests that we have a long way to go for becoming fully functional Value-based care! 

HArbor Says: The current system of healthcare is in ‘silos’, which makes it difficult to provide the best possible outcome at the lowest possible cost. The fragmented system is time-consuming and increases the care cost while also reducing patient satisfaction. Value-based healthcare will bring together all modalities of care delivery to create a well-coordinated ‘continuum of care’. Moreover, better healthcare models can help to achieve the virtue of implementing Value-Based Healthcare in India. 

ALERT: Is our current healthcare delivery system just a ‘fix it’ module? 

2021 has been a year of change for medical professionals. Be it Doctors or behind the scene IT professionals working for these medicos, 2021 had everyone on their toes. We saw old age consultation practices being challenged with urgent requirements to change to modern “video” based consultations, we also saw doctors performing complex surgeries remotely using robotics and what not! However, as we move ahead and delve into 2022, let’s look at these changes or transitions happening in the industry. Let’s ask ourselves, WILL THEY LAST in the current form or evolve to serve the greater good?

The current healthcare system in India is entangled into ignored issues and a few of the most significant points are – 

Fragmented care delivery:  

The Indian healthcare system is focused on niche areas while advancing various elements of care delivery in silos of growth. Although these silos of advancements are happening they are not adequately appreciating their relation to the whole ecosystem.

Hence, this unbalanced rather ‘broken structure’ at the grassroots level has built up a more obvious health crisis of unsustainable costs, poor quality and low patient engagement. 

In order to resolve these underlying issues, several healthtech companies have tried to take the medical practices online with hundreds of thousands of healthcare providers around the world. This worked fine, until care providers realized the harsh realities of listing businesses. The majority of these trends, like listing the practices online, an unnecessary competition has now popped up between the care providers where none is needed. Given the fact that we are a country where the care delivery system is already suffering due to a lack of doctors and skilled hospital staff, a race to win more patients proves detrimental to the status quo. 

Did you know? The doctor to population ratio in India is 1:1456 against WHO recommendations of 1:1000 only for Urban areas. This number skews up to more than 10000:1 if you add the rural population in the mix. 

To resolve the above-mentioned problem, yet another patchwork was introduced by the big corporations trying to leverage patient data. They insisted medicos & practitioners have their own listing which fragmented the patient flows. Further not to mention the increased cost of domains and web maintenance which the medicos had the bear, with little to no knowledge on the subject. 

For a healthcare professional, every new technology which pops up on the corner brings the promise of better practice, but when you look closely, you’ll find nothing but the temporary fixes to grassroot problems, creating more hindrances in the longer run than easing the operations for our beloved doctors.

Maintaining healthcare records: 

It’s not a hidden fact that every year a hefty sum of money is invested into maintaining MRD rooms and the introduction of Electronic Medical Records was nothing but a blessing for healthcare stakeholders. However, EMR software came with its own set of drawbacks. For instance, Imagine being a healthcare provider with years of practice in writing paper prescriptions and patient reports and being asked to invest money and time in EMR software. Difficult right? 

Let’s elaborate!

Today, Electronic Medical Record systems have become the core component in a hospital’s IT ecosystem, where patients book appointments, receptionists manage schedules, and physicians access patient charts. In addition to that, the care facility can even compile prescriptions and send them to pharmacies, receive lab results, prepare insurance claims, and so on.

But, in a  country like ours, where the average time for a doctor to see a patient is less than 2 minutes, the process of filling out EMR sheets is excruciatingly time-consuming & cumbersome, especially for the doctors.

Later, in order to tackle this challenge, smartpens were introduced. Although, this new ‘fix’ has solved the problems of the prior EMR system, but added an extra expense to the care practitioners pocket.

Every time while adding new patches to the care delivery system, software companies somehow forget or choose to ignore that the technology is just a means to deliver care & for a close to perfect adoption of technology, it is required to be simple, minimally time-consuming and cost-friendly. 

Half-cooked Video Consultation upgrades: 

In the last 2 years, we have seen advancements in virtual health gaining momentum, which has facilitated patient monitoring through computer and phone technology. This enables care practitioners to verify prescriptions or supervise drug oversight. However, in India where the maximum population resides in rural areas with a low digital literacy rate, just a basic telemedicine tool won’t work. 

The way these video consultations are happening currently, they seem to take away the human connection from the whole medical care delivery. For instance, a patient taking consultation from a general practitioner online for a frozen shoulder has no way of connecting back to the same doctor for continued care. 

Expanding further, the majority of the Indian population basically needs these video consultations with doctors in remote areas because they do not have accessibility to the medical services near their homes nor a digital payment option available for them which blocks their entry into the care ecosystem. 

Such technological advancements prove to be helping only the privileged thus further widening the gap between India & Bharat. 

Let’s look at the possible ways for solving these nerve-wracking problems deep-rooted into the ecosystem for generations with simple yet effective solutions. 

“The future of Indian healthcare will be defined by collaboration and not competition.”

For years, manual processes have been in place to create paper records for the patients which were personalized. So when EMRs were introduced, each practice needed its own customization. These customizations proved to be expensive for the technology providers and thus the EMRs were never adopted to the scale they were intended to!

A simple artificial intelligence, AI which can hear what their doctors are saying and convert the speech into machine-readable language can not only push the adoption of digital records but also replace the age-old medical transcriptionist which is still prevalent in 2021. Such AIs will prove to be an amazing assistant to medicos which will reduce work pressure on them.

While Telemedicine has taken a centre stage in healthcare delivery, it needs to be equipped with a personal assisted care provider while being integrated into diagnostics & pharmacies, thus completing the entire ecosystem. It is safe to say that these integrations will not only help the healthcare stakeholders to a great extent but improve clinical outcomes.

Technology is supposed to be maximizing value. While redefining healthcare delivery, it is a must that we step away from the fragmented healthcare systems that lack coordination, which is only possible with an integrated healthcare platform. 

HArbor Says, It’s time that we discard the fix-it modules from care practices and establish a strong foundation that will serve the real stakeholders of the care! 

The Future of Virtual Health

How do healthcare leaders see it? 

We all have seen virtual health gaining momentum in the last few years. During this time we’ve experienced it becoming a core component in helping consumers improve or maintain their well-being. However, it has also raised a number of concerns regarding Adaptability, Accessibility, Security and Sustainability. 

This article will give you a little sneak peek into healthcare leaders’ perspectives about virtual health and its future in India. 

Let’s dive right in! 

Did you know – In 2019, India’s telemedicine industry was around 829 million U.S. dollars. This market size is forecast to elevate significantly in the coming years, reaching approximately 5.4 billion U.S. dollars by 2025.

The probable reason behind this expansion is empowered consumers, radically interoperable data, and scientific & technological advances. Which has given a chance to care professionals to connect with the consumers while:

  • Making the care accessible 
  • Reducing the cost of the care 
  • Speeding up the care process

However, the pre-existing Indian healthcare system needs a little something extra to thrive under these technological advancements. And here the assisted care module comes in! 

The maximum Indian population resides in rural areas that have a literacy rate of 68.91 and in order to enhance the accessibility of care virtually, they need assisted-telehealth modules. Or else, healthtech companies merely be introducing ‘smart applications’ with a limited consumer base. 

With virtual care modules, stakeholders are also looking forward to reducing medical costs while providing competent care in a more efficient way. 

But, can virtual care really save money? 

Yes! A telehealth consultation is typically less expensive than an in-person visit to a doctor’s office. Virtual consultation is witnessing action-packed years enabling care providers to connect with their patients anytime and from anywhere. 

Also, to this effect, In India – healthcare kiosks can ensure deeper penetration in remote areas while efficiently running healthcare campaigns. The most amazing aspect of such a module is the doctor’s convenience of consulting patients directly from his clinic. Such facilities can be efficiently managed by local/regional care practitioners on a daily basis under the supervision of a specialist. 

This way virtual health reduces multiple visits to the doctor’s clinic. Moreso, it also reduces the average wait time. 

Fun Fact: You know the prospects of cost reduction with virtual care looks so promising that even the tech giant Amazon jumped in the fray with Amazon Care. 

According to the renowned leaders of the industry, virtual health is a key component of our future of an ideal healthcare vision. The growing popularity of virtual care has created more entrepreneurial opportunities, but such systems have also seen healthtech platforms utilising patient data under the pretext of “Smart Applications”. The only way forward in virtual care is to understand the sensitivity of this aspect instead of selling the medical data to the highest bidder! 

Virtual health can allow high-quality access to care that can enhance provider-patient interactions, yet patient data safety has become one of the major concerns. Although putting an end to breaching is not humanly possible, integrated access-based control systems with secured data policy can maximize patient data security. 

Healthcare disparities and virtual care! 

The conventional Indian healthcare system is dealing with health disparities for a very long time. Virtual healthcare platforms can not only assist care professionals to address disparities in access to healthcare services but, also derive better health outcomes. 

According to National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report, several remote locations in India have seen a decline in healthcare disparities, especially for poor and uninsured population areas. 

HArbor Says: The health care system we know today is progressing towards change embracing technology. However, technology can only be a medium for providing optimum care. Ideal virtual healthcare for the future must overcome the pre-existing challenges in the healthcare system while overcoming the limitations of its own. 

Why Referral System in India Needs Optimizing? 

Can you guess the number of doctor consultation visits a patient would need during the treatment? Now, multiply it to the number of visits for report consultations and most importantly for referrals. Tiresome right? 

A healthcare system is strengthened by healthcare professionals/facilities/diagnostic centres, along with an efficient referral system is at its heart. The Indian healthcare system is one such system. However, the referral system in India constitutes several challenges. As a result, it is hung precariously between the care providers and patients today.

These challenges need immediate attention so as attain a smoothly running healthcare system. For a better understanding, let’s move ahead with care referral system scenarios and their impact on the care practitioners, diagnostic technicians and patients. 

Scenario 1: Typically, the healthcare system is pyramidal, wherein primary healthcare centres (PHC) constitute the base, which is large in numbers. Less number of secondary centres are in the middle, and a fewer number of tertiary care centres are at the top. This means whenever a primary care physician (PCP) refer patients to a secondary or tertiary care facility, this poses a burden on the existing healthcare setting in the cities. Such practices interfere with the already aligned patient appointments and surgery schedules. 

More so, for a healthcare professional this scenario comes with a high patient influx while increasing the patient waiting time disrupting the care facility flow. 

Scenario 2: Often due to the lack of resources at the primary healthcare level (PHC), PHC doctors are compelled to refer patients to another healthcare facility. Now, imagine all these patients with minor illnesses flock around the OPDs of secondary or tertiary care facilities! Ideally, these patients can be easily tacked at the lower level health facility. 

Moreover, according to a study more than 50% of morbidity can easily be treated at the PHC level.

But unfortunately, due to the lack of advanced equipment and skilled healthcare staff patients suffer. Leading to long treatment duration and multiple hospital trips. 

For example: If a rural patient visits his nearest secondary/tertiary healthcare facility in India, the person would’ve to travel at least 50-90KM for better healthcare facilities. Making a consultation to be time-consuming and considerably costly. Eventually leading to poor patient engagement. 

Also, these patients consume resources of a higher-level health facility, which can be effectively utilized for emergency cases.

Scenario 3: The government of India provides health benefits to its armed force professionals along with several other government employees. However, to attain these facilities from a private hospital, the beneficiary needs to have a referral letter from the regional ECHS/CGHS polyclinic. Also, the patient needs to travel to regional polyclinics to demand a referral letter. 

Furthermore, during treatment, the patient is required to apply for a new referral letter for every procedure. Which is basically every time the beneficiary moves from one stage of the treatment to the other. 

This condition may seem easy to process, however, it extends the pace of the treatment. For patients, even if their treatment cost is reimbursed fully, the multiple visits to the polyclinic and then to the assigned hospital, impair the care experience. Meanwhile, the healthcare practitioners are forced to reschedule according to the issued dates of the referral letters. 

In such a system, although the patient is treated under a specialist, somehow the convenience of caregiving and care receiving remains conventional and slow. 

So, why not introduce referral module into the healthcare platforms to optimize and advance the referral system in India?

But before that, we need to know the characteristics of an ideal referral system.

  • Adequate coordination and meaningful communication between doctors, patients and referrers. 
  • Reduce the multiple visits to the hospital for documents 
  • Optimal utilization of primary health care services without burdening the secondary and tertiary care units. 
  • Provide optimal care to the patients at the right level, right time and right cost.
  • Cost-efficient utilization of health care systems to provide easy and legit access to referrals. 

In healthcare, the integration of Electronic Medical Records (EMR) and Telemedicine, modules have taken centre stage in healthcare delivery. It is safe to say that these integrations have assisted healthcare stakeholders to a great extent while improving clinical outcomes. 

Due to healthTech platforms at the OP level, the user interface is so easy that the data can be entered by desktop computers, iPad, or even a phone with user access. Similarly, the integration of the referral module on the same platform will assist care providers with an innovative approach to check on patients’ diagnostics reports & follow-up consultations via video calls. Moreover, such platforms readily update patients’ medical records. 

The introduction of such a platform may prove to be a road ahead for stress-free healthcare practices. 

HArbor Says: It’s true that to strengthen primary care, adhering to strict regulations are necessary for existing referral systems in India. However, from the above discussion, it is quite evident that healthcare stakeholders need more than just that for an efficient referral module. Moreso, a referral module integrated healthcare platform is a way forward towards building an ideal referral system in India. 

What do you think?

Are the Healthcare Platforms bringing Sustainable Healthcare Practices in India

India is paving the way for digital health ecosystems, and it is needless to say that the pandemic has enhanced the rate of adoption of digital care practices. However, the Indian healthcare system needs to implement certain bold, strategic actions to get to the road of sustainability.  

The Indian healthcare industry has been preparing for the rapid healthcare change, driven by rising consumer expectations, technological innovations and a vision to create healthcare for all irrespective of their demographic locations. Further, not only India but the consumer-centric digital health ecosystems are now seeded across Asia. 

Today, digital health impacts more than a billion lives, and its estimates show that digital health in Asia could collectively create up to $100 billion in value by 2025, up from $37 billion in 2020. 

But, now the real question is, can healthTech platforms boost the sustainability of complex service systems such as healthcare?

There are 2 basic elements of a healthtech system; people and technology. People include the stakeholders of healthcare who can be further categorised into psychological, emotional, cognitive and cultural elements. On the other hand, technology is known to boost stakeholder interactions while offering accurate data management. 

Here are certain points that will help you to place digital health and the Indian population on a single view:

  1. In the healthcare market, several software are functioning towards the agenda of personalization of health-related services. These software/applications may have provided relief to a section of society, however, in a country like India, digital platform designers would also have to consider the age, social background, demographics and financial capacity of the application users for digital care sustainability.

A well-thought healthtech platform not only is able to deliver the healthcare services but would renew and offer a more efficient process lying at the core of health service delivery. This will assist the care provider as well as the patient due to the real and the ongoing active participation of empowered patients, who can now access, mainly via digital platforms. Also, such practices will nourish patients’ ability to self-manage their disease.

2. Another aspect of a digital healthcare platform is its ability to act as “interaction enablers’. This enables activating specific and dynamic relationships between the medicos and patients, while mutually sharing patient data and updating the earlier medical records and, in so doing, ensuring the long-term sustainability of the whole healthcare system. 

This implies that digital platforms have boosted access to information resources. Hence, doctors and patients, along with the other stakeholders can individually improve their understanding and awareness of medical issues. Which will eventually lead to better resource sharing, cooperation and networking. 

3. Medical information systems are crucial for strong health systems and while discussing the sustainability of health information systems, it is essential to address that even though the EMR systems show great possibilities, in India, the chances of fully transitioning from paper-based systems may take years. Also, since complete transitioning is necessary for sustainability, the healthtech platform must overcome the challenges faced by the stakeholders while handling electronic record systems. 

This suggests that, although the sustainability of electronic record systems faces challenges, easy-to-use design and a little stakeholder coordination could be promising to enhance the usage of EMR/EHR systems. And hopefully in the near future simple, template-based EMR modules will be widely adopted in every healthcare facility.  

HArborSays: The above discussion proves that sustainability is essential for the healthcare system and the most convenient way to rely on the healthTech platform that will pave the way for ongoing value co-creation.

Top 5 reasons to stop using Paper Health Records

Paper is gradually becoming an outdated source of record storage in this new age of technology. By now, you must have even concluded that there are more problems than benefits in continuing to use paper-based records a.k.a Medical Records.

It’s time to switch to electronic medical records! However, a major section of healthcare professionals in India is still continuing to invest in humongous real estate involved in keeping the so-called “medical record rooms” alive. 

So, here is a listicle to make this transition easier for you!

  1. Yearly Expenditure for Maintaining Paper Health Record

One of the major concerns of every Indian healthcare facility is protecting medical documents from rodents. Which obligates medical practitioners to spend lakhs of rupees on maintaining the MRD (Medical Records Department) rooms. In fact, the expensive paper-record maintenance should be enough for medicos to consider switching to healthTech platforms. Also, the real estate cost is not worth spending, when you can optimize the area for revenue generation.

With an electronic medical records system, you can ensure the safety of medical records from rodent attacks. These digital systems not only provide safety against damage but also clear up the occupied MRD rooms to expand your services and revenue sources. 

2. Paper Records are Subject to Tampering

The medical documents in MRD(Medical Records Department) are in imminent danger of being misplaced, copied or even altered to substitute the real information. Sometimes, it is even difficult to figure out the person responsible for tampering and further, it may take days to recollect the documents. 

But, electronic health records are encrypted and generally password-protected to prevent unauthorized distribution or adjustments to the medical documents & patient charts. Upgrading to an electronic record system clearly helps you maintain pristine records with the highest levels of safety. 

3. Paper doesn’t give Real-time Data backup in Disaster

It’s not just about keeping your medical data confidential, but also its availability in adverse conditions. Consider if the MRD or the server room is on fire. Then, how will you retrieve the care facility’s data? It can be a simple mishap or natural disaster; a medical record system must ensure 100% data backup. Paper records certainly do not provide any backup which is also their biggest disadvantage over digital records. 

An electronic medical record system in-built with automatic disaster recovery via real-time data backup will enable zero per cent data loss and 100% business continuity during such disasters.

4. Protection against Data Breaching

Patient data privacy & security breaches have raised some serious concerns regarding the adaptations of healthTech platforms. Do you know, according to a study in 2020, In the past five years, we’ve seen healthcare data breaches grow in both size and frequency, affecting nearly 80 million people worldwide?

There are also some quality healthTech platforms in the market that provide three-layer data security. These security measures include but are not limited to:

  • App-level protocols 
  • Network-level security 
  • Database-level encryptions

This implies that you don’t need just a system! you need the one that follows regulatory requirements under HIPAA and ensures maximum data security. Several healthTech platforms in the market use military-grade SHA512 encryption, encapsulating all medical data which can only be accessed with a secure user ID. 

5. Internal Audit Trails & System Integrity checks

With paper records, how would you know who has exploited the patient’s chart or if they altered it? 

EHR systems not only facilitate enhanced security but also benefit your facility during the audits. An electronic medical record system can assist you to verify people who have accessed patients records/documents along with time of access and their authorization ID. At the time of the audit, an electronic medical record system will be able to shed light and will allow damage control. 

HArbor Says: It’s true that electronic healthcare records may have some addressable limitations but they hold a mile-long advantage over paper records. 

PS: It’s time to reuse your MRD Room for a better purpose.

The focus of Change isn’t Changing Care Practices but Advancing Healthcare Delivery.

India is home to a population of 136.64 crore seeking medical services with a limited health workforce. In such a case, a good healthcare system is not just imperative to create better care giving practices but also, to enhance patient care.  

Yet, how often do we see healthcare professionals adapting to healthtech systems? 

Rarely! Right?

Did you know? A recent WHO report mentions that India needs at least 1.8 million doctors, nurses, and midwives to achieve the minimum threshold of 44.5 health workers per 10,000 population by 2030.

A reality check! 

Often, healthcare professionals in India choose to gain customer traction while facing the drawbacks of listing businesses. However, these listing platforms procure patients while inflicting unnecessary competition within the medical practitioners. Moreover, certain practitioners even claim degraded ratings on the website once the subscription was delayed/canceled. (source – TOI report). Such commoditization of medical practice is not only unethical but also demeaning to practitioners. 

Hence, while choosing a healthtech system for their care facilities, medicos are skeptical. Let us further dwell on understanding why technologies fail to penetrate the health care system?

Technologies fail to address the ‘Real’ practice problems

Technology is worth nothing if it’s not goal-oriented. The designed applications must provide solutions for existing issues. This includes long waiting hours for appointments, billings, and test results. Multiple visits for a single consultation, lack of home care monitoring, and more. 

Healthcare professionals require tech modules that would help them perform everyday administrative work, while they can fully focus on the care practice, efficiently. And at the same time, maintain adhesion with patients even when they are in their home. 

For example — Physicians generally love a module that truly helps patients in managing their diet, exercise, and stress levels while assisting them in monitoring patient vitals on a single healthcare platform, automatically. Thus reducing the extra workload on the medicos to give that special attention that their patient in pain demands.  

Investing in complex healthTech platforms doesn’t seem to be a good idea. 

Tech adoption in healthcare is difficult, even if it enhances care-giving as it requires care providers and patients to understand the technology in a price-sensitive industry. In a country like India where 70% of the total population lives in rural areas, application usability must be considered a primary feature for any healthcare platform!

Today, doctors need a healthcare platform that facilitates assisted healthcare services to their patients. Such platforms would assist in bridging patients and healthcare providers without changing their care practices, yet simply leveraging technology for advancing care delivery.

Complex and expensive apps/healthtech systems usually face an uphill battle for adoption.

The tech systems entangle the existing functions in a care facility.  

According to everyday consultation practices in India, a majority of medicos prefer manual filing of patient’s symptoms, diagnosis, and medications. Which is often difficult to retrieve from the stack of numerous patient records. At times, patients even make multiple visits for a single consultation which consumes time and reduces patient experience.  

Can healthTech platforms rewire these time-consuming processes? 

A healthTech platform works extremely well while securely storing patient data. Such platforms also assist medicos in creating EMR (Electronic Medical Record) using a template-based format, speech dictation with AI, or even via photographing handwritten RX. This enables doctors to keep their practice the way it has been while giving the extra ability to retrieve medical data of any patient anytime on a mobile-based application. 

Also, healthcare needs such a platform that integrates healthcare stakeholders on a single stage to enhance inter & intra departmental interoperability. This will benefit healthcare professionals in the easy exchange of patient data and even enable video consultations in their fullest & truest form unlike the current form of telemedicine which lacks systematic implementation of standardized care practices.

The everyday challenges for healthcare professionals are changing as per the needs of consumers and now more than ever we need systems that won’t change the healthcare practices but advance care delivery by filling up the age-old gaps in healthcare. 

HArborSays: Today, healthcare requires a system that caters to both patients and healthcare professionals, which can only happen while adapting healthcare platforms. Platforms that are driven by digital transformation while enabled by radically interoperable data and security are the future.

Let’s take steps towards building such healthcare platforms that revolve around sustaining well-being rather than just responding to illness. 

Urban Healthcare: Responsibility to Reach Beyond the Cities for Care Delivery

The healthcare stakeholders seem to be enjoying the healthTech wave in India. A recent report also proved that the HealthTech industry in India is expected to flourish with a total economic value of US $50 billion by 2033 (Source – RBSA).

Yet still, why have these healthtech innovations not been able to penetrate the remote areas, especially villages to facilitate optimum medical care. The article explores the following points to elaborate further on the topic:

  • Issues with penetration of healthTech in villages.
  • The solution for the existing healthTech issues. 
  • Impact of these solutions on Bharat economy.

Let’s get started!

Challenges faced by urban medicos while delivering care 

Over the last few years, the Indian healthcare system has undergone dramatic changes with the introduction of technology. Yet, there is a huge gap in care delivery mainly resulting because of the urban to rural doctor density ratio of 3.8:1. 

This is why every year – 86% of all the medical visits in India are made by Ruralites, still traveling more than 100 km to avail health care facilities. Out of which 48% of them are emergency overnight trips (source: NCBI). 

Logically thinking, the easiest solution for these problems would be building healthcare facilities in the village itself. But would that be economically feasible? 

NO!

Here are some of the factors, that a medical practitioner would consider before building a healthcare facility: 

  • The total cost of building a healthcare facility in a village.
  • Availability of the paying population.
  • Availability of other healthcare stakeholders like pharmacies & diagnostic centers.
  • Trained medical staff to provide effective patient care.

Keeping these basic points in mind, the majority of doctors or healthcare facilities are generally reluctant to build such infrastructures. 

This problem has somewhat been addressed in urban & suburban places with the introduction of Telemedicine. According to a recent study, during the COVID pandemic – India has seen a 500% rise in healthcare teleconsultation, out of which 80% were first-time users. 

Yet, why hasn’t this incredible healthTech boom reached the villages? 

A rural patient may be equipped with a smartphone but lacks the complicated nature of the healthcare ecosystem thus leaving them more frustrated with virtual care than providing relief. Other basic functions like bill payment and checking the patient queue considered essential from the doctor’s perspective are not possible, due to low literacy rate & unavailability of transactional modes.

Ordering medicines from a pharmacy application or booking a telemedicine appointment may seem like just a few taps on urban patient’s smartphones, although it is much more difficult for a rural patient. 

This implies that the current form of Telemedicine can never be the means of interacting with village patients for a virtual consultation! 

The solutions for creating healthtech inclusive of Indian villagers.

Even though the urban population has taken basic advantage of HealthTech, the rural healthcare systems are facing pre-existing healthcare issues along with the newly emerged tech troubles. 

So shall we resolve them? 

Yes!

Upgrade from the practices of creating brick and mortar care centers & create lightweight movable assets for quick setups and complete care. These healthcare Kiosks should provide assisted telemedicine care, enabling the village/rural/remote patients to access care efficiently.  

Now, will assisted care prove to be better than just telemedicine application?

Firstly, the kiosk centers should be administered by doctor assistants to provide round-the-clock medical care. More so, when the patient will be interacting with the doctor in-charge on a video consultation, the assistant will help the patient to state all the symptoms, which will enhance patient care along with reducing any possibilities of error. 

Furthermore, these doctor-trained assistants should be equipped with basic diagnostic kits, vaccines, and medicines to provide primary care, if necessary. More so, the assistants placed can be a local care practitioner or even a quack – interacting with the patients in their regional language. 

This futuristic & effective digital care model for evaluating, diagnosing & treating patients without the patients needing to visit facilities, may help us achieve the best care possible for the rural population in India!

Also, wouldn’t this care delivery module have a small, yet significant impact on the Indian economy? 

Yes, definitely!

These light-weighted movable assets can be easily established in multiple villages while providing essential medical care to the patients. These simple yet effective care units can also be used to provide emergency care to the patients while connecting with specialists living in any part of the world!

And now that patients no longer have to travel to the cities for primary care, the cost of care can be reduced without any additional expenditure.

HArbor Says: It’s time that we start thinking about taking healthTech beyond the cities when India’s maximum population lives in the villages! Let’s rethink healthcare from the eyes of a villager.  

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.

The zest behind growing HealthTech Sector in India

Earlier this year, The IAMAI-Praxis report titled ‘HealthTech Predictions 2021’ revealed that the pandemic has pushed the healthtech sector in India and has opened up business opportunities for its stakeholders. 

Indian healthtech is a $1.9 billion industry that is merely 1% of the total Indian healthcare market. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak pointing out gaps in the healthcare segment, its stakeholders have realized the necessity of technology in bridging those gaps. 

Before the start of the next pandemic or the next wave of the current pandemic, this upward trend in technology spending focused on healthcare will enable consultations, diagnosis & treatment to be delivered , tracked and monitored remotely.

This will surpass the limitations and complications of the existing technology systems that the governments use for public healthcare. More so, private healthcare institutions will benefits with advanced healthcare technologies in reducing the burden on their doctors, who also form the larger pool of medicos in India. 

Having said that, the need for technological advancement in the healthcare industry is now prevalent more than ever. Being in the intersection between design and delivery of health care services, the care domain has established a pool for healthTech to assist healthcare professionals in quality patient care. The continuous development in the healthTech space and a shift in the adaption of digital practices by healthcare providers has witnessed an improvement in care delivery, payment processes and consumption of care.

The health-tech market comprises of eight segments — telemedicine, e-pharmacy, fitness, wellness, healthcare IT, analytics, home healthcare and personal health management. With fair consumer adoption in the coming up years, the industry will bloom with care models driven by AI/ML which will help the healthcare professionals to fulfill patient care demands with ease. The healthcare industry is about to witness a paradigm shift under technology influence which will also expand & enhance several business opportunities and employment.

HArbor Says: Ultimately, technology is easing out the healthcare processes while building up new business opportunities and employment in the sector. It is only such technological advancements which will save the humanity from next pandemic.