Health Camps – A too good to be true ‘Picture-Perfect’ strategy!

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: 

  1. Lack of continued care for patients. 
  2. Increased care costs – after attending the camp patients are expected to take follow-ups or further treatment at a hospital which maybe far off. 
  3. Travel fatigue 

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: 

  1. Consult patients at any time and from anywhere
  2. Easily render homecare services along with a regular vital check-up for comprehensive patient monitoring.
  3. Organise a medical camp and continue the treatment, as per the patient’s medical needs. 
  4. Maximum patient engagement and minimum travelling costs.
  5. Provide rapid diagnostic kits via the assisted telemedicine route.

HArborSays

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.

Amidst the global health crisis induced by wars & Covid, assisted telemedicine is the only ray of hope for Billions.

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, 

  1. Patients’ engagement rates during the video consultations 
  2. Care professional’s efficiency due to virtual care convenience
  3. Contactless and faster medical care delivery
  4. 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;

  1. Quick evaluation, diagnosis & medical consultations 
  2. More active patient participation opportunities 
  3. More active patient participation opportunities
  4. Reduction in expenditure incurred while care-taking
  5. Continuity of care even after the primary consultation is delivered

 Assisted-telemedicine holds 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. 

HArbor Says: 

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!

Can Technology Extend a Hand to Enhance Work Culture in Healthcare?

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. 

Why Doctors can’t Commit to EMR Modules? 4 EMR formats that can change the course! 

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….

  1. 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. 
  1. 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. 
  1. 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.

  2. 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 Says:

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. 

Fantasy Future: Virtual Consultations for the people of Mars.

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. 

Virtual Care: Looking beyond the existing solutions for Mental Health.

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. 

HArborSays: 

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. 

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?