Taking only the POSITIVE events into account – COVID-19 PANDEMIC has driven the digital transformation in the healthcare industry. We’ve seen healthcare units extensively adapting the workforce and technologies to mark up with the new-age care delivery standards. But, can we assume the transition to be equally easy for every healthcare stakeholder? In other words, what does the era of digitalization mean to you as a healthcare stakeholder?
As a supernatural fiction writer, H.P. Lovecraft once said – “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” Similarly, the real world is scared of the extent of the digital world and their susceptibility to accept healthtech is no different. Simply put, even if the healthcare stakeholders could surpass the fear of trying something technologically innovative while delivering or receiving medical care, the digital care delivery ecosystem has its own perils, which cannot be left unaddressed being on a global mission to create affordable, acceptable and equitable healthcare for all.
Using technology in hospitals for diagnosis and treatment is not new, but when healthtech tools were introduced to deliver or receive medical care, chaos wasn’t far away. However, a little was done to ease out that crease and it has created a significant divide between the healthtech innovators and its users. A divide which was mostly caused due to the fear of not understanding technology. In other terms, this divide mostly entails stakeholders who are technologically illiterate. In India, despite a constant push towards a deeper penetration of the internet, digital literacy is almost non-existent in rural parts of the country. With almost 60 percent of the rural population still not actively using the internet. Although this population seems comfortable with manual practices, and for them conventional healthcare practices have worked so far. Unfortunately, this group also represents the population whose overall out-of-pocket healthcare expense is off the charts. As they end up spending for unnecessary care facility visits, poor referral systems and lack of definitive diagnostic tests.
Internet literacy index across India in 2021, by category.
The graph represents digital literacy in India in terms of web accessibility, population’s literacy and more.
The above argument proves that manual to digital care delivery ecosystem shift can be challenging for medicos as well as patients, but a change in perspective can help the stakeholders to create a big difference. Potentially, assisting healthcare practitioners to expand their reach and patients to receive care efficiently. Here’s how?
1. One way to address the challenges in the transition to a digital care delivery ecosystem is to focus on improving digital literacy among healthcare stakeholders. Wherein, assisted healtech technologies like standalone assisted healthcare KIOSK and Diagnostic machines can be deployed to remote locations to provide medical care and educational campaigns. Gradually bridging the gap between ‘Bharat’ and ‘India’.
2. Addressing and eliminating the socioeconomic differences by using equally accessible and equitable healthtech technologies. Also, Collaboration between healthtech innovators, and healthcare providers can play a crucial role in ensuring that digital healthcare solutions are developed and implemented in a way that is effective, safe, and equitable.
3. Taking effective actions towards understanding, what are they worried about, what are their fears, what are they trying to do? If we don’t engage with them that way, it doesn’t matter what technology we use.
The Bling of Smartphone, Fitbands & Advanced Applications!
According to Deloitte’s 2022 Global TMT, the smartphone market is expected to reach 1 billion smartphone users by 2026. However, the roadblock is the lack of solutions for simple smartphones in healthcare, which is a significant challenge in providing healthcare for all. It is essential to have access to healthcare information and services on all types of devices, including simple smartphones, as they are often more accessible and affordable to a broader population. Moreover, Most health apps and wearables are designed in English, which is not the primary language of many Indians. This makes it difficult for them to understand and use the technology effectively.
One possible solution to this problem is to develop mobile healthcare applications that can work on all types of smartphones, including simple smartphones. These applications should be optimised for low-end devices and slow network connections, making them accessible to a wider range of users. They could be developed using technologies that require minimal storage and processing power. HealthTech solutions that can provide healthcare information(Patient records, Prescriptions and appointment notifications through downloadable formats and SMS.
To Summarise, the processes need to be simple, so that digital literacy can be enhanced!
A new age has dawn upon us, and digitalization offers immense opportunities for economic growth, innovation, and social development. However, it is essential to address the challenges of digital skills and literacy to ensure that everyone can participate fully in this digital era.
HArbor is making strides towards a better tomorrow where healthcare is ACCESSIBLE, AFFORDABLE & EQUITABLE for all. Let’s talk, if you can relate to this vision.