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

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

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

Rarely! Right?

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

A reality check! 

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

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

Technologies fail to address the ‘Real’ practice problems

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can healthTech platforms rewire these time-consuming processes? 

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

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

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

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

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

Fixing healthcare gaps step-by-step with Technology in India

COVID Pandemic has held back the best of humankind and their businesses. Especially, the healthcare facilities across the world, who were seen struggling to contain the devastation brought on by a sharp increase in the infected cases. Despite all the hard work of medical professionals, the healthcare systems currently in place couldn’t manage the sheer number of patients visiting the already cramped medical facilities resulting in uneven care and even further reduced healthcare accessibility for urban as well as rural populations. Though healthcare leaders & policymakers have tried incremental fixes to the current systems, the final goal of creating better healthcare technology for the ‘patients’ is still a far fetched dream for India.

All of these problems in addition to the lack of literacy to use technology products in India led to bad patient care experiences. Moreover, the existing healthcare technology systems aren’t serving in medicos interests for reducing their load and it’s high time that it should be fixed!

Reasons For Gaps In Healthcare System

Healthcare systems are created for maximizing value. When we are redefining healthcare, it is a must that we step away from the fragmented healthcare systems that lack coordination. These un-synced care facilities create unnecessary stress – followed by lengthy treatment procedures, health risks to the patients and unsatisfied care experience. More so, it adversely impacts quality, cost, and outcomes.

Wouldn’t an integrated care delivery system(IDS) resolve the problem of inefficient allocation of resources to improve care quality & optimize operations?

Yes, it most definitely can. When a patient visits an OPD, the majority of the treatment is performed at different care units, not necessarily to be under one hospital. These care units include diagnostic centers, pharmacies and the doctor’s chamber. Integrated care delivery platform collects all of the fragmented data in a single EMR report, irrespective of the care unit. Furthermore, an IDS will coordinate and collaborate with health care professionals to achieve clinical outcomes & improving patient care, while easing up care delivery for medicos. However, talking about creating a healthcare system providing a complete EMR, delivering care in rural areas when patients are dependent on quacks or spin doctors for allopathic care is difficult.

Did you know, according to a WHO report, nearly 57% of doctors in India are quacks.’

However, the rise of telemedicine in India facilitated patients from remote corners to connect with the ‘real doctors for actual consultations’. Bringing virtual healthcare systems to rural communities has shown a 300% increase in online consultations in 2020. Furthermore, it reduces patient dependencies on quacks and unburdens them of the unnecessary expenses via online treatment.

As for the already existing quacks in the healthcare system – the Indian population requires an assisted telemedicine modules which can be successfully managed under their supervision. This way assisted telemedicine will be able to enhance and assist in transforming rural healthcare while regularizing and creating job opportunities for an unregulated sector.

In a healthcare system, every stakeholder plays a crucial role in patient treatment. Even after virtually connecting a patient with a certified care provider, the unavailability of tools for assessing health is still a major gap that needs fixing. The establishment of health assessment facilities i.e diagnostic centers in rural areas has special challenges of its own like limited funding and lack of skill set in medical staff other than doctors.

Technological innovations such as POC (point of care) tools and Rapid test kits could help address part of the problem. As yet also hospital ground staff/nurses & even quacks with access to healthcare platforms that can easily interpret the diagnostic data while facilitating continued care in rural/remote locations. This is probably the best possible way for creating & delivering complete patient care, even in remote areas.

Data is the new oil for the world but in healthcare, it has always been the crucial element.’

A complete medical record serves the interest of the medicos and their patients equally, especially when a patient consults multiple doctors and switches one healthcare facility to the other.

Independent, un-connected care facilities create multiple files for the same treatment resulting in unmanageable, untraceable disease origins. More so, when the need for a second opinion arises, the patient’s losing the physical files can never be ruled out in Bharat. This gloomy context of Indian medical record management can easily be fixed with technology. By incorporating EMR integrated healthcare platforms, the healthcare providers can easily manage patient data while sharing it amongst them, obviously with the patient’s consent. With detailed health data, providers can deliver better care & avoid any medical error which was unavoidable in unstructured records.

In an ideal healthcare world, if a perfect interoperable EMR exists then the care will be structured and independent of the patients input to provide treatment data while switching between the care facility”

HArborSays: The traditional health system appears to be coming apart at the seams, and this will likely worsen with time. Hence, now is the time to act and restructure healthcare by fixing the gaps while creating ripples for a positive change in healthcare.

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.

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