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

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

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

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

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

But are the COVID cases, our only health crisis?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Digital Receptions – A step forward in healthcare delivery

Over the years, while digital care platforms have largely come up with innovate solutions to ease out operations for doctors & patients, the most crowded corner of any hospital remains to be a reception desk, still operating under heaps of paperwork and manual processes.

Manual reception desks do not only consume valuable human time but also exposes medical staff to unnecessary exposure especially during these pandemic times. A study was done at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Jersey, USA revealed that hospital support staff is generally hit harder than doctors. This trend was later confirmed and observed during the second wave of pandemic in India too. The primary reason for such a trend was mainly associated with lesser awareness and an extremely large number of footfalls happening on the reception desk of any hospital.

The largest crowd gathering in any medical setting is always at the reception desk, where queues of patients can always be seen waiting to get themselves registered, make bill payments or even simply inquire repeatedly about their turn to see the doctors. In a country with population to doctor ratio of more than 6000:1, these problems will always be congruous with overcrowded reception desks.

How do we solve this issue in a country like India where 80% of doctors are concentrated in urban settings & 313 Million people are still illiterate?

The answer is simple – Automate the receptions, remove the humans in urban setups, remove redundancies & create infrastructure in rural India, namely Bharat. WOW! That seems quite a task but that’s the most relevant solution to the Indian healthcare industry’s underlying volcano waiting to burst out.

A digital front door with a capacity to do everything a medical staff can do while manning a reception desk is necessarily one-stop answer to all of India’s healthcare delivery problems, at least related to processes. The redundant activities of a reception desk can be easily automated to provide self-checkouts & appointment systems to the patients. Information should be displayed in a form legible to patients & all relevant stakeholders in Audio-Video formats only. Such a system would also be of particular interest to the majority of pharmaceuticals which can then use these front doors to create mass awareness amongst patients about the latest innovations in the drug world.

So these automated kiosks would result in loss of Jobs for receptionists?
Absolutely, NO!
The hospital trained medical staff can be relocated to smaller towns & villages where such kiosk would prove as single points of touch for telemedicine and registrations creating a bridge for a population with a lesser amount of literacy levels. Diagnostics, local language support, video camera and integrated network should be an essential part of such terminals, least in remote areas.

HArbor Says: In the era, where the healthcare domain is desperate for cost-effective ways to automate setups & extend care in remote locations, a digital reception will be our golden chance! A digital front door for a the clinic will provide continued care with improving patient experience to a level beyond imagination.

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

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

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

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

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

 How HealthTech integration in diagnostics will revamp the Healthcare facilities

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

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

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

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

EMR Adaption; Challenges with Current Tech & Road Ahead!

Technology has played its most significant role in advancing paper medical records to digital health records making them super accessible and easy to sort. Digital EMR is potentially one of such drivers for the transformation of healthcare.

A study conducted under National Physician Survey reported 65% of physicians to believe that EMR has enhanced their patient care. Yet, the adaptation of EMR is still not so popular in public as well as private care facilities.

For years, manual processes to capture patient’s data have differed from physician to physician causing lack of standardized data and nomenclatures for patients to read a file of the same disease from two different clinics. Even though EMRs evolved to address personalization for the clinicians, they have severely lacked the central ability to map same diseases of different names under the same umbrella coming from two different physicians for the patients understanding.

Why is modern EMR better than conventional EMR ?
On the other hand, modernized EMRs have in-built capacity which leverages the power of AI and machine learning to club the same diseases with different name under one view for the patients ease. This not only is beneficial for the patients to use but also gives the practitioners, the ability to run their own practice in their own way without having to worry about standardization because the machines will take care of the same.

Another advantage that these modern EMRs is their ability to provide the doctors or clinicians with features for data interoperability, medical records accuracy & better care assessment.

Healthcare needs a faster adaptation of modernized EMR to generate essential health care analysis. Hence, replacing conventional record-keeping methods will strengthen the information accuracy, while supporting medicos with incredible clinical decision-making along with ease of information access.

One of the most crucial reasons to integrate a modern EMR into the practice is its assurance to provide quality work lives for healthcare professionals. Most importantly, it transforms healthcare professional’s operations with a provision to detect chronic conditions of a patient.

Enhanced digital medical records reduces the pressure on our medicos to manually create the files while also being a super efficient assistant for the doctors to take care of the obvious, thus reducing human errors due to high volume. Moreover, with structured chart summaries, medical notes, and prescriptions medicos can efficiently assign tasks to various team members while the patients are connected with their dedicated patient portals or PHRs, making it more efficient for engaging patients.
Harbor says: The positive effects of EMR integrated healthcare platforms is undeniable, which is enough to map its long term impact on a care facility and its workflows. It’s high time we adapt to the idea of cutting-edge informatics in medicine.

Post Pandemic Boom: Is our industry retail ready?

COVID pandemic has shown, that even the mightiest of the care facilities needed to evolve in order to keep the “business” going and yet the majority of them are struggling to keep it sustainable.

We need to evolve as an industry and keep a broader perspective towards rebuilding healthcare around retail space. We need to marginalize caregiving to an extent where profits are not driven by the number of beds a hospital can keep occupied but by improving the efficiency of processes adopted in the retail space with lesser infrastructure.

With an ever-growing population, we can never build enough beds simply because of the overhead cost attached to it. But if we are able to optimize caregiving in the retail, Out Patient space, the requirement of more & more beds would be simply diminished. Yes, we would still need tertiary care units, but the majority of the population would be reluctant to visit a #medico sitting in a large building surrounded by diseases of various origins.

Instead of building bigger and grandeur hospital buildings, let us build a futuristic system focused on Retail healthcare and enabling full care protocols for patients unwilling to come to hospitals. Let us evolve OPD, to an extent where, we not only be able to give our patients teleconsultation but also the entire care package right from their homes by integrating diagnostic, pharmacies, nurses & even the receptionists on the same eCare platform. Homecare for mild and moderate diseases must be a norm and should be an extended arm of retail caregiving.

For centers and cases where physical visits are unavoidable, we should be able to build contact less interactions and flows for the patients and they should physically meet only the doctor in his chamber. Automated Digital Reception Desks, should be a must-have addition and one of the few tangible infrastructure investments the medical industry should look at.

HarborSays, the Post pandemic boom is coming and our industry must gear up to take the most advantage of it. The future of caregiving is retail.

The secret of caregiving is doctor-controlled Homecare and Telemedicine in COVID times.

Being discharged from the hospital and returning home after testing negative for #COVID-19 is undoubtedly a relief. However, a good homecare regime and constant vital checkup can enhance the process of recovery faster and better.

COVID patients who are experiencing health issues like fatigue, difficulty in swallowing or have taken up long-term damage to the heart & lungs must receive full-time homecare care with regular vital check-ups.

COVID rehabilitation has proved to have a positive impact on patient’s health post-COVID recovery by up to 40 % while allowing the patients to seek continued care at the comfort of their home.

Even with a negative RTPCR test, recovered COVID patients may still be experiencing difficulties with everyday household chores or might have a chance of post-intensive care syndrome after spending time in hospitals. To avoid the risk of readmission, it is important to continuously monitor their vitals and an all-inclusive care assessment tool must be provided to the patient for well being & help them in gradually getting back to their pre-COVID strength.

Care Analysis: Treating the impact on the lungs and heart

Coronavirus can make it more difficult for a patient’s lungs to get enough oxygen into the blood and if left untreated or ignored, it can become a life-long health issue to deal with. Also, during the period of illness, doctors have reported an increase in the risk of cardiovascular problems in patients.

With homecare regimes, medicos should be able to digitally suggest an exercise routine and medications to help patients recover faster. Wherein everyday exercise timings can be easily recorded by their patients along with medicine doses. The homecare should assist to change the medications while being updated regularly about any unusual symptoms for immediate and effective medical help. Doctors should be available to the patient at a predefined consultation time.

Care Analysis: Difficulty in providing care for chronic patients

COVID19 lockdowns have been bringing everything to halt, adversely affecting all the patients in general, especially the ones suffering from chronic diseases. Since medicos are overloaded with COVID patients, it is difficult to monitor and track all such patients individually. Hence, an integrated monitoring system along with vital assessment & Teleconsultations must be available to patients while being controlled by the doctors on a pre-appointment basis.

Care Analysis: Managing patient’s mental health remotely

Post-COVID stress has also caused anxiety, depression and symptoms related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in patients and it can be difficult to cope with, if not treated with care and routine check-up. Teleconsultations can be a very useful method to address such issues while providing the best possible patient-centric treatment in a doctor controlled environment. Telehealth even facilitates mental health specialists to consult patients remotely that might not otherwise be available including those patients who reside in the hinterlands of rural Bharat.

In conclusion HarborSays, homecare & telemedicine are such powerful tools and they must now assist medical practitioners while enhancing the caregiving experience without increasing the overall infrastructure cost for doctors.

Top 5 reasons why reception desks need to be digital in a care facility

A digital front door implemented in a healthcare facility keeps the functions of reception desk fully operational without any manual intervention.

HarborSays, modernization of the older reception desk is must for future