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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Healthcare is a fundamental necessity of life, but its accessibility and quality differ for different communities in India, especially for the LGBTQIA. For them, it is a privilege to get basic healthcare needs satisfied due to the deep-rooted stigma in the society. This often leads to creating gaps in essentials and basic healthcare needs. Plunged in ‘the swirl of social biases’, it is critical to address the medical needs of this community by leveraging modern healthtech platforms.
From waiting outside a clinic to booking consultations for yearly health checkups at diagnostic centers, the healthcare journey differs for each one of us. We all have our share of concerns while reaching out to a medical professional, but what if a social stigma around a human’s “partner choice” becomes the first barrier while seeking medical help?
It is generally the first thought for nearly 8% of LGBTQ+ people living in India while going for a medical visit.
For the LGBTQIA community, discrimination and fear of non acceptance leads to care disparities. As a result, they are more prone to chronic diseases and mental health issues that may often be left unattended, degrading their quality of life.
As a thumb rule for any thriving society, access to quality and continued care should be a basic and fundamental right and healthcare systems and the approach should be equal for all its beneficiaries irrespective of their biological gender or choice of partner.
Since, the patient experience for this special case, varies to a dipping point in India, we need to look at ways of restructuring care delivery right from its foundation. Primary care should and must evolve to be inclusive of all humans from all communities.
The Current state of Primary care for LGBTQIA community in India
Indian LGBTQ+ comprises 104 million people, and their exclusion is relatively tied to socioeconomic status, identity and community. Moreover, poverty and distance to care centers have exacerbated the lives of LGBTQ+ communities. In a recent study by NCBI, LGBTQ+ youth are more prone to substance use, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), cancers, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, bullying, isolation, rejection, anxiety, depression, and suicide as compared to the general population.
“When medical help comes with societal barriers, they choose to suffer in silence.”
On the flip side, the situations are different while yielding an inclusive care system with better health outcomes for anyone & everyone via TECHNOLOGY. On this side, Healthtech platforms facilitate medicos to build comfort and trust for the LGBTQIA community, to help patients get the best care possible at their fingertips.
Let us explain!
Telehealth can change the preconceived notions or experiences of the community members by connecting them with healthcare practitioners who can take care of their unique physical needs in a more confined and confidential way. While, going to a clinic might be inconvenient for most of the patients, humans from LGBTQIA community face those extra and not required “societal looks” while in the waiting area. Though this problem should not exist in the 21st century, it can be easily overcome with telemedicine.
In the future perspective, the wave of online consultations, homecare regimes via Virtual Care modules, DIY Kits and many other care delivery mechanisms this lines will assist LGBTQIA community to connect to Mental health groups, specialists, certified hormone replacement therapy (HRT) experts, and HIV specialists while giving the patients a chance at periodic monitoring and stigma-free treatment. Assisted telemedicine kiosks will successfully help in delivery care in trans member localities and government organizations for LGBTQ+, where these standalone kiosk modules will deliver public awareness and permanent health camps.
Empowered with Rapid Test Kits and battery operated pathological machines, these freestanding care delivery modules can even provide diagnostic capabilities with privacy toLGBTQIA community members and help in eradicating several communicable and noncommunicable diseases, right from the deepest levels.
Wouldn’t that be a befitting and cost-effective initiative for the Health authorities and society in General?
The surge in telemedicine in the LGBTQIA community is necessary to concurrently streamline and tailor the services for these under-served individuals.
Building Inclusive Clinical Trials
Clinical trials help the world population towards a healthier and better quality of life. However, generally speaking, members of the LGBTQIA+ community are often left out of these clinical trials. The lack of such diversity in clinical trials has significantly affected the LGBTQIA population while restricting them to only generic medications.
Such a diversity lacking study data fails to collect the drug effects on genetic levels of these marginalized sections of the society, especially the transgender communities. And, being uncertain of the risk factors of the medications, a medical practitioner will be indecisive to write the prescription.
Had it been for an inclusive clinical trial which was being run on a technology platform which does not discriminate, a patient’s clinical trial participation would have been strategically recorded inEMRs to assist care professionals in the longer schema of things.
Social stigma in India has been forcing the healthcare system to be viewed under the lens of heteronormativity, sidelining the LGBTQIA community’s needs. As a result, this has led to the negligence of their health, driving the situation to a point of concern for the entire community.
Assisted Telemedicine can significantly assist private and public care practitioners to address the community-specific health issues while spreading awareness among LGBTQIA.
Let’s Rethink, Redesign & Rebuild a healthcare system which is inclusive and caters to the medical needs of every community!
to reduce overall care costs while building easy-to-use care systems.
‘Money’ is typically a mindset while delivering or accessing healthcare services. Today, this has affected care delivery systems beyond its stakeholders control while turning healthcare ‘necessities’ into a luxury that only a few can afford – the urban and higher economic population. With the existing high out-of-the-pocket expense modules, this is a standard situation where patients either drop out in the middle of the treatments or are too scared to get diagnosed in the first place.
Having said that, even the tech advancements in the care delivery system are not widely adapted as anticipated by the healthcare leaders. Covering just an additional few who are ‘technologically literate’ after the rise of healthtech. And, the problem remains unsolved, leaving state governments & private healthcare organisations on a dead-end where Availability, Accessibility and Affordability of medical care is in chaos!
For instance, Telemedicine has become a prominent mode of emergency care during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, In India, telemedicine ‘cherry picked’ the patients while excluding a vast population suffering from tech illiteracy, if not the disease. A CSE Report mentioned that rural districts in India have accounted for every second COVID death in the last year. This number is actually higher than expected as rural areas cover more than 70% of the country. A reason being – inadequate care access coupled with less healthtech literacy in the rural areas.
In such scenarios healthtech needs to be backed with expert assistance. This implies that for the rising healthtech accessibility challenges in India, assisted care modules are a must. And, an opportunity to unleash the true potential of care practitioners for everyone and anyone to benefit. Furthermore opening the doors to a better end-to-end assisted virtual care delivery experience while sharing the burden of overall care expenses.
To understand this issue, healthcare stakeholders must recognize the importance of ‘site of service’, which calls for the establishment of
Freestanding Care Delivery module in Rural India.
The site of care service plays a crucial role in medical care prices across the country. Wherein, adjusting the site of care delivery can yield savings, without compromising the care quality. This is where the assisted virtual care modules come in, to allow care professionals to run permanent health camps with nearly half of the investment they annually make. Meanwhile, reaching patients from the comfort of their office.
With enhanced primary care availability and extended service reach, isn’t it a win-win situation for everyone?
Yes, it is!
Currently, the Indian Public Rural Healthcare System is managing 160713 PHC centres across the country. This includes annual infrastructure maintenance, workforce & diagnostics management and numerous other expenses. Making it a system requiring maximum investments while its beneficiaries constantly dwelling on other options and spending heavily from out of their pockets.
This issue can be conveniently addressed by a freestanding care delivery setup with integrated assisted telemedicine and diagnostics. The setup requires minimal management investment, thereby significantly reducing the cost burden. Moreover, these easy-to-setup modules can render regular vital check-ups and rapid tests for several diseases on the site of service. Keeping the OPD & diagnostic costs to a minimum for the stakeholders involved.
From the convenience to provide virtual care, engaging their patients in the comfort of their home and personalising the treatment; the freestanding care delivery module is everything that any care practitioner needs to extend their care services with a one-time investment. Furthermore, making patient monitoring a lot easier than ever before.
Talking about the need for patient monitoring, rural(Gramin) healthcare systems often get exhausted due to a lack of workforce at levels, geographical diversities and negligence of patients towards their own care. These standalone care management units can efficiently deliver care keeping the specialists, patients, and diagnostic centres in a loop. Building a foundation for palliative care in India
An incredibly crucial issue that palliative care faces is the awareness of the diseases, on which the state government invests a huge percentage of its budget every year. This care delivery module can successfully organise and structure the healthcare system for early detection of chronic diseases, strengthen the process of patient-physician communication and aid the long-term care requirement. Eventually, improving the quality of life of patients.
To put it simply –
“It will keep people out of the ER and close to care – a cost effective strategy”
Giving a hand to the pillars of Rural Healthcare System
ASHA workers are at the heart of the Indian Rural Healthcare System. These professionals proactively manage immunisation, pre-Natal check-ups (ANC), Post Natal check-ups, supplementary nutrition, sanitation and other assistance provided by the government. Although these caregivers were amazingly guarding rural care since ages, the system developed defects that can only be overcome with technology.
A freestanding care delivery module will potentially enhance the efficiency of public healthcare professionals while conducting follow-ups, medical surveys and care emergencies. Moreover, now ASHA workers will be able to track and manage the care delivery while keeping other care stakeholders informed. Resulting in diligently building up a more managed system, while fixing the existing gaps and creating positive ripples towards a healthier tomorrow.
Indeed, freestanding care delivery modules are holding the key to the future of rural care. An easy-to-use, one-time investment to provide health coverage to millions, without disturbing the already existing practices.
It’s ultra-important for the healthcare sector to advance in order to meet the needs of its beneficiaries. And, this article highlights an urgency to adapt healthcare modules with respect to availability, accessibility and affordability of care while realistically quantifying the potential cost savings. From here forwards let’s focus on reducing infrastructure costs, care facility management costs and care accessibility & delivery costs in rural India.
It’s time to step towards cost-effective and up-to-the-minute healthcare!
Public healthcare in India is free & AVAILABLE for every resident which encompasses 18% of total outpatient care and 44% of total inpatient care. Unfortunately, this care is not as ACCESSIBLE as its reputation precedes on paper. However, the emergence of healthcare camps has provided a dynamic opportunity to fulfil the underserved healthcare needs and today, this widely adopted strategy has become an integral part of the Indian healthcare system. Irrespective of its promises, one must ask,
Is it an effective strategy or just a ‘picture perfect’ scam?
Every year, swasthya shivirs/health camps are organised by private and government healthcare organisations. These are even highly welcomed by the lower economic sections of the societies, in a hope of subsidised or free medical care. Sadly, it is estimated that the conventional health camp modules hit ground zero soon after the first phase of initiation; because of the following limitations:
Lack of continued care for patients.
Increased care costs – after attending the camp patients are expected to take follow-ups or further treatment at a hospital which maybe far off.
With the rapid adoption of Health camps, medical practitioners have successfully addressed the medical needs in remote communities. Still, the drawbacks of this conventional care delivery module have outgrown its benefits. Furthermore, with this ‘one-time care affair’, the patients are forced to choose between out-of-pocket expenses or discontinuing their treatment.
According to an NCBI report, India contributes to 2/3rd of the total deaths in the South-East Asia Region due to non-communicable diseases. Although the government pays handsomely to establish optimum care modules, major benefactors include the middle and upper-class rather than the lower economic population.
In such a scenario, healthcare camps can efficiently ensure primary care to the rural population; but, expecting the optimum results from a ‘one-time treatment’ module is too good to be true!
Is it navigating patient engagement and trust?
A health camp strives to bring awareness and screen underprivileged population to enhance patient access to healthcare services. Sometimes, organisers even get estimated results after distributing basic medication but, thinking from a patient’s perspective – this doesn’t seem enough!
For example – For a patient diagnosed with chronic conditions, one-time screening without follow-ups imbalances the act of care delivery. Moreover, it leaves a negative outlook toward the practitioner in the minds of the patients after being diagnosed with the condition. This will result in a decline in overall health camp participations and thereby, decrease patient engagement and trust.
Hence, medical camps must facilitate end-to-end care on an easily accessible platform to enhance patient care and maintain patient stickiness in the long run. And, this comprehensive care demand can only be fulfilled with an assisted virtual care delivery system.
A system that is driven by care professionals and backed with technology!
The Solution – Health camps with assisted virtual care support!
Imagine being able to deliver care in remote locations around the year without a need to be physically present at the location.
Yes, it’s possible!
2019-2021 has given quite a boost to the Virtual Based Care (VBC) modules. Utilizing a similar approach to treat the patient in health camps will enable doctors to deliver comprehensive care and may ensure long-term patient engagement. However, while providing care for a technologically-illiterate population, a kiosk-based assisted telemedicine module is an ideal solution.
Advantages of a kiosk-based assisted telemedicine module:
Consult patients at any time and from anywhere
Easily render homecare services along with a regular vital check-up for comprehensive patient monitoring.
Organise a medical camp and continue the treatment, as per the patient’s medical needs.
Maximum patient engagement and minimum travelling costs.
Provide rapid diagnostic kits via the assisted telemedicine route.
Medical health checkup camp is an effective way of delivering primary health care; typically in the unreached area to achieve optimum health coverage. However, the conventional health camps come with their own demerits and it’s about time to resolve those issues. Assisted virtual healthcare platform is one of the best possible ways to ensure healthcare access for all.
We believe – “If it cannot sustain the care requirements, it shall be replaced or at least advanced.” And, it’s time to deliver the best possible outcomes from health camps.
Unprecedented time calls for extraordinary measures, especially when lives are at stake and healthcare is pushed into the forefront. This technology-leveraged shift has not only boosted care engagement but also bridged the existing healthcare systems to the future care modules. Telemedicine continues to address care delivery challenges within the care systems & may shine even brighter if operated via assisted care!
During the initial days of the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine usage surged as patients and doctors sought ways to access and deliver medical care. As a result, global telehealth utilization for outpatient care increased 78 times, along with tangible increased numbers for,
Patients’ engagement rates during the video consultations
Care professional’s efficiency due to virtual care convenience
Contactless and faster medical care delivery
Treatment and medication adherence
Moreover, a research survey by McKinsey & Company, in 2020 showed 40-60% of telehealth consumers’ interest in using ‘digital front door’ for a seamless care delivery experience & to remove barriers in providing care, while moving towards better healthcare systems. It not only helps with proactive consumer engagement, improved data integration but also improves the access to expert care, making care-giving more timely and convenient for anyone living anywhere in the world.
Yet, how convenient it can be, while facilitating telehealth in disaster & war zones?
Since its emergence, telemedicine has developed in terms of connectivity and design; for enhancing its usability. However, these modules tend to reach their limits when used by a ‘technologically illiterate’ or a population with no resources to access video-based telehealth (VBT). Similarly, in a natural disaster or war-prone zone, a significant disruption in healthcare facilities can quickly turn the situation into a health hazard. In such cases, pre-existing basic telemedicine needs assisted care modules for delivering more than just HEALTHTECH!
In natural disasters or war zones, assisted-virtual response enhances the care capacity while minimizing the logistical & security issues associated with deploying the care specialists. Assisted telemedicine introduces the concept of kiosk centers with trained professionals to provide round-the-clock medical care. Not only these setups can be light-weighted, but they are well equipped with basic diagnostic kits, vaccines, and medicines to provide comprehensive primary care. This futuristic digital care model will not only assist in primary care but rather will also assist in creating value-based healthcare, which involves;
Quick evaluation, diagnosis & medical consultations
More active patient participation opportunities
More active patient participation opportunities
Reduction in expenditure incurred while care-taking
Continuity of care even after the primary consultation is delivered
Assisted-telemedicineholds a key component to future virtual care, thereby creating a care model that integrates doctors, patients, diagnostics and other healthcare stakeholders on a single platform. That will be functional for any geographical area or any global crisis.
Future of healthcare with Telemedicine
From “virtual urgent care” to a convenient, value-based model; Telemedicine is gradually redefining the parameters of healthcare.
Future healthcare systems are supposed to redesign into a hybrid virtual/in-person care model to enhance the consumer experience, care access, treatment outcomes, and affordability. And, to be prepared for any healthcare delivery requirements of the future. Be it a natural disaster or war.
2019-2021 has given quite a boost to the Virtual Based care (VBC) model. However, at present, on the road to a post-pandemic world; Assisted Telemedicine offers a better fighting chance to reinvent virtual care models while improving healthcare access, outcome and cost-efficiency. It’s time we move towards sustainable healthcare for a future that holds healthtech at its heart.
Hope often comes after a lesson learned and if the global crisis between 2019-2022 has taught us anything; it is to strengthen while advancing the healthcare core. And, this time assisted healthtech is our HOPE!
Healthcare professionals are at the ‘HEART’ of the caregiving sector; tackling unforeseen conditions every day. Because the challenges faced by the care providers are huge, they are often stressed, burnt out and are at the perils of other psychosomatic health hazards. This adversely affects the quality of life and care providing ability of the medicos. With technology trying to place its foot in the medical world and gather popularity amongst healthcare peers, it is desirable for the technologies to not only ease operations for the medicos but also improve their efficiency.
In the last two years, medical professionals have experienced prolonged social isolation, a series of lockdowns & restrictions, continued uncertainty due to the pandemic and rising levels of mental stress which has negatively impacted the working professionals in India more than most places in the world, revealed a new study by Oracle and Workplace Intelligence.
Maybe, this is why — In the post-pandemic era, healthcare facilities are challenged with the necessity of better work culture for care professionals. Eventually encashing it in terms of healthy & happy patients — A strategy well recommended by the healthcare leaders.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, patients & medical professionals were seen successfully accommodating to virtual consultations. This has certainly become one of the popular care delivery trends; meanwhile keeping the care providers and the patients happy at their ends. According to an online survey, 73% work satisfaction in the care practitioner’s community with virtual care delivery methods. 65% out of these have even considered it to be a cost-effective and efficient tool for their practices as well as their patients. However, 78% reported that the experience for their first video consultation was not efficient due to vague symptom input from their patients.
With telemedicine as a potential care delivery method, medical professionals can efficiently connect with their patients within seconds from anywhere while attracting patients who want virtual consultation options. Especially, in the rural areas of the country, where establishing an assisted-telemedicine service is more convenient than building a hospital. Evidently, we’ll be walking with telemedicine into the post-pandemic era; convinced of its care convenience and patient engagement benefits.
Talking about the convenience — imagine being a healthcare practitioner and treating a chronic patient with a fragmented medical history record versus consulting the same with detailed EMR. Between both of the scenarios, wouldn’t it be much easier to help the patient with an elaborate medical record?
EMR introduction into the healthcare facilities will facilitate easy & timely patient referrals with verified medical history records, further avoiding unnecessary diagnostic tests.
A Medspace report states that 59% of doctors feel a lack of fulfilment when they spend a considerable amount of time on administrative tasks. This eventually contributes to burnout while reducing their efficiency profoundly. Introducing a sophisticated EMR will certainly assist to bring different care providers on a single platform.
Running a successful care practice requires a lot of effort. And, despite appointing administrative staff, medical professionals end up assisting with the workflow. However, automating duties that don’t require face-to-face interaction will simplify the operations, thereby reducing stress & workload on the medicos. One such optimized way to reduce stress is to introduce automatic reception desks which can streamline online patient appointments, bill payments and queue management systems for the facility while completely removing the dependency on the clinic staff. Such free time due to less work will result in improved efficiency.
Pro tip: After automating the reception desk, your staff can welcome some — or all — of the administrative responsibilities you were handling. Consequently, more time for patients and reduced working hours.
HArborSays: While re-imaging healthcare in the post-covid-19 era, implementing work systems to enhance work culture in the healthcare sector is a must! And, from the above discussion, it is evident that healthtech is the next step towards a better work culture in healthcare. Being a healthcare professional is a challenging role and if healthtech can facilitate convenience, timely care and less paperwork then it’s time to welcome healthtech with open arms.
Electronic medical records (EMRs) have had a positive effect on patient care and the work lives of physicians. However, convincing healthcare professionals and healthcare management to adopt EHR/EMR modules have always been a challenge in India. This article sheds light on why healthcare professionals are still so attached to the idea of paper records when they should be reaping the benefits of new-age EMR/EHR modules!
Let’s get started.
From the perspective of a medical professional!
No doubt, we are gradually upgrading with the modern health tech solutions, however, full-fledged adoption of EMR still has a long way to go, and the reason behind it is the asymmetry of benefits. For a health tech designer, the tendency to look for technological fixes for significant conventional problems may have sufficed with every new feature, but, from a medical professional’s perspective, maybe there is a lot more to this.
The broken medical market – as economists would call it: A bitter fact about the existing healthtech systems is that the set-up and everyday usage of these largely ERP driven software is expensive. Until now, most of the providers haven’t recovered those costs, either in payment or in increased patient satisfaction in India. It’s beyond question that having digital data at fingertips can assist the healthcare facility to operate in multi-folds, but, the costs are hefty, and they have fallen on people who have no economic incentive to make the transition.
Time-consuming & complicated designs: In India, the average time for a doctor to see a patient is less than 2 minutes. At the same time, imagine dealing with a complex EHR/EMR system, when you can easily scribble the prescription! This critical aspect of an EMR module is very crucial for its adaptation.
The habit-loop of pen-paper practices: The practice of creating medical records using pen & paper holds a significant place at the core of the Indian Healthcare System, which may be a time consuming but irreplaceable habit. So, for a healthcare professional, switching EHR/EMR modules may disturb the practice flow while leaving the professional agitated and unproductive.
Moreover, healthTech leaders in India need to think about the various aspects of healthcare that would make sense to modernize and are ready to adapt to change, to incorporate into the core healthcare system. Meanwhile, we need digital record modules that would make the transition between paper to EMR easy and with simple designs.
You need an EMR module that comprises….
A Template-driven, Touch-Based EMR: Most clinicians are familiar with paper data sheets that are more or less in tabular formats. A structured EMR format with touchpoints to choose from a variety of templates will tidy up the data coming from different sources.
Tabular format simplifies the bulk datasets for easy visualizations and will hold up space for diagnostic reports, RX sheets and medical bills.
Speech-to-text AI replacing medical transcriptors: Often doctors feel typing patient notes can distract them from actually listening to their patients. But if they only listen to their patients and don’t feed EMR, the consultations won’t make it to a treatment plan or generate medical claims later.
Using Speech-to-text AI allows practitioners to dictate their medical notes during a patient encounter instead of typing them while making EMR more navigable.
This feature saves time and bridges the gap between conventional data entry practices to new-age health tech modules.
Handwritten prescription to digital using OCR: One tricky yet effective way to create a digital health record is to let the medicos use their favourite pen and paper and give them an option to save the image of that Rx paper. The EMR then should convert that image into a digital prescription.
EMRs compatible with digital writing pads: A way to replicate the pen-paper based medical records is to have an EMR which can connect with a market available writing pad. These writing pads can then transfer the record thus captured digitally and EMRs with special features can convert them into incidental electronic medical records.
HArbor is more than eager to see healthcare practitioners get onboard with the digital healthcare systems and especially, EMR! However, the perpetually diverse module requirements of the medical record modules in India cannot be resolved with just a single format. We need to make EMR adaptable and in order to make it happen, healthtech platforms must be able to bridge between the old practices and the new-age tech for a smooth transition.
This is the year 2055 and humans have expanded their quest for survival to Mars. The humans are now divided into two groups, one’s who stayed back on Earth to restore the damage done to its nature and the other, who departed for Mars in order to cultivate a new nature there.
While the Martians have been successful in their struggle against nurturing a rather tough planet, they are largely dependent on Earthlings for their medical needs. Since the beginning of this transition from Earth to Mars, humans were so focused on creating a new planet that they neglected the basic necessity of having enough medical practitioners and facilities on the newly inhabited planet.
The Martians face a new variant of Sars-Cov-19 and with limited medical expertise on the planet, only Earthlings can save them. The leaders of Mars are desperate for help and with Variant 572 of the Sars-Cov-19 spreading rampantly across Mars, interplanetary travel is banned.
Earthlings are determined in their effort to help their fellow humans on Mars and they have turned to technology for their mission, a mission, to save the Martians from this deadly variant. Back in the year, 2019, when the first variant of the Sars-Cov-19 was discovered, the earthlings had looked upon the Telemedicine a.k.a TeleConsultation for their medical practises and since then the technology has developed rather swiftly.
Over the last 30 years or so, Earthlings have grown telemedicine to all-new levels. In the year 2021, a then social media giant, META, had launched METAVERSE which laid foundations for the virtual OPD Rooms.
Development of VIRTUAL TESTS by scanning the density and flow of body fluids
have further helped the Martians. Further, back in 2040, when a satellite-based organ scanner was launched by the Health Department of United Nations of Earth & Mars (UNEA), was launched, it was looked at as a security threat and breach of privacy of the citizens of Earth back then. But, now when a Martian needs a whole-body scan for their inner organs, all they need is to long-press their in-body health chip, placed it in their elbows and walk to their terrace. A satellite then comes within 30 seconds to their exact location and completes a detailed radiology scan along with all necessary vitals and body functions.
These reports are then pushed into, EARMAR Health Systems, the world’s most advanced Physical Environment, Diagnostic & Symptom Mapping AI, which is governed by the joint authority of the UNEA. EARMAR has over the years gathered health patterns of each of the humans residing on each planet and now this AI has developed the capacity to give custom medication and treatment plans to each patient.
Now, Doctors on Earth with their specially made Virtual Reality OPD Rooms, VROs, which demonstrate patient’s vitals, all diagnostic records on a single virtual screen are able to treat patients from Mars. When these meetings are clubbed with 6th Sense & Nano Technology-driven cameras, which is the most common type of camera now, doctors can physically examine the patient’s virtual avatars which replicate all bodily functions. The patient’s connect to these VROs using their smart all-in-one devices and can also get the experience of physical yet personalised consultations which happened back in the early 2000s.
With a combination of EARMAR, VROs & In-Body health Chips, doctors can prescribe customised drugs and quantities in the MetaVerse to the patients not only from Mars but also from Earth. These drugs are then 3-D printed by the patients directly at their homes.
Technology has taken a drift in the last 50 years or so, but healthTech has seen a major uplift only over the recent years. With the advancement of healthTech, we are able to reach far more patients and treat them with much better and accurate care that the mortality rate will reach almost zero for communicable diseases not only on Earth but also on Mars. We are on the cusp of not only surviving on Mars but also cultivating human life and increasing the life span from 70 years to more than 100+ years.
Interestingly, the way healthtech is combining age-old practices from the early 2000s and upgrading them to deliver personal care is not only magnificent but also shows how far we have come as a species.
HArbor Says – Since 2019 when the Covid Era started, Telemedicine has always been the saviour for healthcare consultations but with recent developments, TeleConsultations has taken a form that was unimaginable a few years back. The fact that these systems combine the old practices with modern technology, show how robust the health systems have become. Humanity has never been better prepared to face this deadly, Variant 572 of Covid.
As we look into a pandemic struck world, healthcare industry leaders are brainstorming on – how to transform the crisis made, short term problem-solving technology into sustainable, efficient and secure solutions that can drive quality and provide proactive care, which is not limited to the physical but also mental health of a patient.
Today, what once seemed futuristic in healthcare (receiving medical care through a screen) has not only become a run-of-the-mill for patients but rather is a prefered choice for all sorts of medical consultations, including mental health. Particularly in this domain, HealthTech has opened a new frontier in care delivery. Mobile devices are giving the public, doctors, and researchers new ways to access help, monitor progress, and increase understanding of mental wellbeing.
However, these half-cooked telemedicine applications have kept the debate on their continued adoption alive especially with mental health practitioners since their faculty demands a much larger connection with the patients and continued care.
Let’s take a look at how telehealth has worked for mental health clinicians and their patients.
What a telehealth appointment looks like
A telemedicine appointment begins by logging into a dedicated app for virtual consultations, followed by booking an appointment with the preferred medical practitioner. Here, once the session starts, the patient can readily interact with the specialist, like in any other in-person visit.
Did you know, virtual mental health practitioners have even reported that their patients feel more comfortable and at times respond better to virtual consultations than in in-person visits.
That’s correct! For them, the biggest surprise is how easily children have been able to adapt to telehealth. The specialists are even trying to get creative to revitalize the sessions for better care outcomes, at the comfort of their homes.
Certainly, virtual mental health care can be very simple but effective and comes with several benefits for all stakeholders.
The pros of Virtual Mental Care for patients & care providers
Convenience: Virtual care is ideal for those who have trouble with in-person appointments. Which allows them to receive treatment from anywhere, any time.
24-hour service: Telemedicine provides round-the-clock monitoring or intervention support to the patients that can prove to be effective in the hour of need!
Service to more people: Technology enables healthcare practitioners to extend their services to people in remote or rural locations that lack mental healthcare specialists. Moreover, these experts can provide their services in times of sudden need (e.g., following a natural disaster or terror attack).
Anonymity: In India, seeking mental care is still a hush-hush affair and with an ideal telemedicine module, patients can seek treatment without involving anyone else.
Care Consistency: It is observed that due to long-distance travelling or time management issues, patients often miss therapy sessions. With telemedicine, patients can easily show up for their follow up appointments being at the comfort of their homes.
Data Collection & Survey: Unfortunately in India, lack of mental health awareness & paucity of mental health experts have prevented thousands of patients from receiving medical help. Therefore, virtual mental care is expected to be the care delivery medium in smaller towns and rural India.
Undoubtedly, healthtech has bestowed us with the possibilities of an advanced healthcare era for mental care. However, it has also raised a number of concerns that are or could be potential barriers in delivering care. Tackling these issues will not only ensure productive care practice but also a better patient satisfaction rate.
The ideal Healthtech platform for mental healthcare should have
Passive symptom tracking: Mental health isn’t just about therapy and it requires constant patient behaviour and routine. An ideal mental healthcare platform will assist the care providers to monitor their patients and determining their real-time state of mind.
Pro tip: Consider any healthtech module a waste that doesn’t come with home-based vital management!
Medication & follow up reminder: An ideal telemedicine platform not only connects specialists to their patients but also extends care beyond medical consultations. A telemedicine module should empower patients to take care of themselves with doctor scheduled medication and follow up reminders.
Easy-to-use module designs: A user-friendly platform is the first step towards making telehealth more accessible in both urban and rural parts of India. Perhaps, as simple as a template-based module could go a long way for an ideal healthtech platform.
Protection against Data Breaching: Patient data privacy & security breaches have raised some serious concerns regarding the adaptations of healthTech platforms. A healthtech platform must follow regulatory requirements under HIPAA and ensure maximum data security.
Continued Care: Finally, we need a telehealth platform which gives an option to the beneficiary to connect to a doctor, which they feel comfortable with and can reach out in emergencies like anxiety attacks, just to simply objectify the need for mental health.
India has 0.75 psychiatrists per 100,000 people and from the above discussion, it can be inferred that telepsychiatry can efficiently bridge the gap between mental health experts & patients. However, a basic telemedicine application will always put barriers to the possibilities of telepsychiatry.
Being a mental healthcare provider, you need a platform where telemedicine takes the center stage of healthcare delivery, along with integrated EMR and diagnostic modules.