Electronic medical records (EMRs) have had a positive effect on patient care and the work lives of physicians. However, convincing healthcare professionals and healthcare management to adopt EHR/EMR modules have always been a challenge in India. This article sheds light on why healthcare professionals are still so attached to the idea of paper records when they should be reaping the benefits of new-age EMR/EHR modules!
Let’s get started.
From the perspective of a medical professional!
No doubt, we are gradually upgrading with the modern health tech solutions, however, full-fledged adoption of EMR still has a long way to go, and the reason behind it is the asymmetry of benefits. For a health tech designer, the tendency to look for technological fixes for significant conventional problems may have sufficed with every new feature, but, from a medical professional’s perspective, maybe there is a lot more to this.
- The broken medical market – as economists would call it: A bitter fact about the existing healthtech systems is that the set-up and everyday usage of these largely ERP driven software is expensive. Until now, most of the providers haven’t recovered those costs, either in payment or in increased patient satisfaction in India. It’s beyond question that having digital data at fingertips can assist the healthcare facility to operate in multi-folds, but, the costs are hefty, and they have fallen on people who have no economic incentive to make the transition.
- Time-consuming & complicated designs: In India, the average time for a doctor to see a patient is less than 2 minutes. At the same time, imagine dealing with a complex EHR/EMR system, when you can easily scribble the prescription! This critical aspect of an EMR module is very crucial for its adaptation.
- The habit-loop of pen-paper practices: The practice of creating medical records using pen & paper holds a significant place at the core of the Indian Healthcare System, which may be a time consuming but irreplaceable habit. So, for a healthcare professional, switching EHR/EMR modules may disturb the practice flow while leaving the professional agitated and unproductive.
Moreover, healthTech leaders in India need to think about the various aspects of healthcare that would make sense to modernize and are ready to adapt to change, to incorporate into the core healthcare system. Meanwhile, we need digital record modules that would make the transition between paper to EMR easy and with simple designs.
You need an EMR module that comprises….
- A Template-driven, Touch-Based EMR: Most clinicians are familiar with paper data sheets that are more or less in tabular formats. A structured EMR format with touchpoints to choose from a variety of templates will tidy up the data coming from different sources.
- Tabular format simplifies the bulk datasets for easy visualizations and will hold up space for diagnostic reports, RX sheets and medical bills.
- Speech-to-text AI replacing medical transcriptors: Often doctors feel typing patient notes can distract them from actually listening to their patients. But if they only listen to their patients and don’t feed EMR, the consultations won’t make it to a treatment plan or generate medical claims later.
- Using Speech-to-text AI allows practitioners to dictate their medical notes during a patient encounter instead of typing them while making EMR more navigable.
- This feature saves time and bridges the gap between conventional data entry practices to new-age health tech modules.
- Handwritten prescription to digital using OCR: One tricky yet effective way to create a digital health record is to let the medicos use their favourite pen and paper and give them an option to save the image of that Rx paper. The EMR then should convert that image into a digital prescription.
- EMRs compatible with digital writing pads: A way to replicate the pen-paper based medical records is to have an EMR which can connect with a market available writing pad. These writing pads can then transfer the record thus captured digitally and EMRs with special features can convert them into incidental electronic medical records.
HArbor is more than eager to see healthcare practitioners get onboard with the digital healthcare systems and especially, EMR! However, the perpetually diverse module requirements of the medical record modules in India cannot be resolved with just a single format. We need to make EMR adaptable and in order to make it happen, healthtech platforms must be able to bridge between the old practices and the new-age tech for a smooth transition.