For promoting evidence-based medical decisions & better outcomes.
While waiting for a cost-effective, consistent and faster mode of healthcare delivery, millions of patients go unnoticed every year. In India, this substantive reality hits even worse with the reports explaining the spike in mortality rate even for the diseases that can be cured. This suggests a significant issue in the healthcare system, affecting a large population cohort. A system that has advanced over the years is yet to reach the ultimate milestone and still has major limitations while facilitating care.
For instance, people living in rural or remote parts of the country are expected to travel long distances to avail healthcare. This increases the cost of care and causes inconvenience to the patients during their treatment. One of the most severely affected groups are the low-income communities as this population is struggling due to high “out-of-pocket” care expenses and travelling on an average of 94 Km for every test and follow-up report can get frustrating! Moreover, even if the sample is collected at the patient’s location to send to a far-away diagnostic centre, the sample’s integrity cannot be trusted, which in turn, can result in false positives or no result at all.
Often cited as one of the major healthcare barriers, long distance travelling is quite a cause of concern for doctors as well as lead to missing appointments, rescheduled consultations, delayed care, and missed or delayed medication use. Furthermore, this restricts the medicos to deliver care with poorer chronic illness management; eventually resulting in an unsatisfactory patient experience.
Although transportation barriers can be challenging to deal with, a change in perspective while searching for a solution can benefit the stakeholders involved. This means – when disease prognosis comes at the expense of PATIENT EXPERIENCE and TIME, healthcare delivery processes need to be re-structured for those who cannot show up now and then for a diagnosis or regular follow-ups. This calls for introducing point-of-care testing(POCT) kits in healthcare delivery.
Establishing point-of-care testing kits(POCT) in remote locations is a cost-effective alternative and can be easily operated by trained paramedics. These remote care units are equipped with Rapid Test Kits(RTKs) along with some basic medical instruments like handheld and battery Electrocardiograms (ECGs), Haematology / Blood Analyzers, Biochemistry Analysers, Thyroid and Urine Testers, Blood Pressure & Sugar Machines and several other such devices that can deliver instant disease diagnosis along with facilitating them with continued treatment via assisted telemedicine.
“The faster the prognosis, the better the treatment”Dr. Prabhakar Hiwarkar, Retd. Asst. Dean, Community Health Department, GMC, Yavatmal.
The idea of point-of-care has been existing for ages. Since its inception around 6,000 years ago with the introduction of “urinalysis,” POCT has been advanced and adapted by many secondary and tertiary hospitals in India. Today, they have evolved to include blood gas testing, electrolytes analysis, rapid coagulation testing, rapid cardiac markers diagnostics and more, to save precious treatment time and enhance patient experience (while moving around the diagnostic department for tests). At times, these rapid tests have also proved their excellence in the emergency situation by assisting care practitioners to reach a confirmed diagnosis and treatment plan.
“When every minute counts and specimen integrity is at risk, point-of-testing may prove to be a miracle that will save a patient’s life!“Dr. Shilpa Chaudhary, a leading trauma surgeon.
However, primary healthcare in India is yet to get its hands on POCT. There are several reasons why point-of-care is not seen in primary care in India.
First, primary care providers in India often do not have the training or experience necessary to effectively use point-of-care technologies.
Second, setting up these point of care testing camps temporarily, can be expensive, and many primary care providers in India do not have the financial resources to do so.
What if we tell you that there are several point-of-care integrated practice management platforms in India that are not only cost effective but are lightweight. These free-standing care delivery modules not only assist you to reach your patients at any corner of the country at ease, but ensures an overall reduced setup cost.
Want more, we’ll suggest you check out kiosk-based remote satellite centres by HArbor!
Talking about better healthcare outcomes, it is crucial to note that diagnosing a disease is not enough, we need healthcare systems that deliver care “on-the-spot” as well. With the emergence of healthtech, leveraging the point-of-care modules along with assisted-telemedicine will assist care facilities in easy patient data capturing and analysis, review reports and suggest treatment in a few clicks. Moreover, using the same technology across multiple settings will maximise efficiency for the clinician, and can therefore expedite treatment courses while establishing evidence-based medical decisions & better outcomes.