Essential but Underskilled: Healthcare Workforce is still Living with Tools from Ancient Times.

Healthcare facilities have finally acknowledged the necessity for upgradation to enhance care-delivery worldwide. However, it still wouldn’t be too irrelevant to ask – how can we upgrade healthcare systems when one of its crucial pillars is still functioning or perceiving healthcare in the same old fashion? Most importantly, is the medical fraternity aware of the challenges that their staff have been experiencing after the introduction of technology? 

According to the studies – the Indian healthtech market is expected to grow to $5 billion by 2023 and to $50 billion in another ten years, suggesting that healthcare technologies are gradually moving to the core of healthcare processes while implying that the care delivery patterns are evolving and we are finally heading towards a new age of renaissance in healthcare. But, is our workforce strong enough to sustain the change, let alone flourish in the light of development? 

Today, as the state of affairs between nurses/work staff and technology continues to influence the quality of care, patient safety, staff efficiency, and job satisfaction, these two have been viewed as being in a love/hate relationship.

HealthTech and Nurses – A mismatched duo!

According to the Head of Staff for Nursing Department, Mrs. Gayathri Iyer from Government Medical Hospital, Nagpur, nursing and technology have a complex relationship. Technology can improve the efficiency and accuracy of nursing care, but it can also introduce new challenges and stresses for nurses. Electronic medical records, for example, can make it easier for nurses to access patient information, but they can also add to the workload and take time away from direct patient care. Additionally, new healthtech tools are not easy to learn, which can create additional barriers for nurses. Overall, while technology can be a powerful tool for nurses, poorly designed software will bring nothing but chaos to a care delivery system. Further in the conversation, Mrs. Gayathri highlights the relationship dynamics between healthcare professionals and technology while telling us why the healthcare workforce is still underskilled to adapt HEALTHTECH!

Tech Literacy and Adaptability Issues. 

The future of the healthcare systems is poised to bring better & more fulfilling work responsibilities for the healthcare workforce only if care facilities adapt to healthtech swiftly. However, with a low tech literacy headcount within the healthcare organisations, the adoption is not as easy as it was anticipated. As a result, the care facilities that fail to fuse their workforce and healthtech systems are not only missing out on great leaps in patient engagement and efficiency, but, in the worst-case scenario, it can also lead to a loss of position as a patient’s provider of choice.

So to bring your workforce to speed, here are a few strategies that can help:

  1. Provide training and education: Training staff to use a healthtech platform efficiently is one thing and helping them understand why it is important is another. It’s more about the perspective they have regarding technology. Figure out a way to change the perspective of healthcare force towards the way they perceive healthtech, and reap the benefits of automation in healthcare. 
  1. Choose your tech partner wisely: Given that your healthcare workforce wouldn’t be pleased while functioning with multiple healthtech tools for different operations, opting for an integrated healthcare management suite will encourage smooth workflows. Integrated Management Suite comes with an all-in-one solution platform making your inter and intra-departmental processes easier while creating a balanced ecosystem for your patients and staff.  
  1. Regularly evaluate and update the technology: Updating healthtech platforms is necessary for several reasons. First, it ensures that the tool is functioning properly and is free of bugs or glitches. Second, it allows for the incorporation of new features and improvements that can enhance the user experience and make the tool more effective. Third, it is crucial for maintaining compliance with industry regulations and standards.
  2. Opt for a healthcare system that does not require tech support: Having a tech-admin team is an added benefit, but if your practice management software doesn’t need a tech-support, in a way it implies that the system is easy-to-use and you won’t have to worry about all the hassles that might come while managing a tech-support team.

HArbor Says: The healthcare industry is facing major challenges such as healthcare accessibility issues, chronic disease, and a shortage of skilled professionals. In order to meet these challenges, it is essential for the healthcare workforce to be equipped with the latest knowledge and skills, including digital literacy and the use of technology. This will not only improve patient outcomes but also increase efficiency and reduce costs. It is time for the healthcare industry to embrace the digital age. 

If you are looking for a practice management platform that is easy-to-use and would assist you and healthcare staff in everyday operations, feel free to reach out to HArbor! 

Why Referral System in India Needs Optimizing? 

Can you guess the number of doctor consultation visits a patient would need during the treatment? Now, multiply it to the number of visits for report consultations and most importantly for referrals. Tiresome right? 

A healthcare system is strengthened by healthcare professionals/facilities/diagnostic centres, along with an efficient referral system is at its heart. The Indian healthcare system is one such system. However, the referral system in India constitutes several challenges. As a result, it is hung precariously between the care providers and patients today.

These challenges need immediate attention so as attain a smoothly running healthcare system. For a better understanding, let’s move ahead with care referral system scenarios and their impact on the care practitioners, diagnostic technicians and patients. 

Scenario 1: Typically, the healthcare system is pyramidal, wherein primary healthcare centres (PHC) constitute the base, which is large in numbers. Less number of secondary centres are in the middle, and a fewer number of tertiary care centres are at the top. This means whenever a primary care physician (PCP) refer patients to a secondary or tertiary care facility, this poses a burden on the existing healthcare setting in the cities. Such practices interfere with the already aligned patient appointments and surgery schedules. 

More so, for a healthcare professional this scenario comes with a high patient influx while increasing the patient waiting time disrupting the care facility flow. 

Scenario 2: Often due to the lack of resources at the primary healthcare level (PHC), PHC doctors are compelled to refer patients to another healthcare facility. Now, imagine all these patients with minor illnesses flock around the OPDs of secondary or tertiary care facilities! Ideally, these patients can be easily tacked at the lower level health facility. 

Moreover, according to a study more than 50% of morbidity can easily be treated at the PHC level.

But unfortunately, due to the lack of advanced equipment and skilled healthcare staff patients suffer. Leading to long treatment duration and multiple hospital trips. 

For example: If a rural patient visits his nearest secondary/tertiary healthcare facility in India, the person would’ve to travel at least 50-90KM for better healthcare facilities. Making a consultation to be time-consuming and considerably costly. Eventually leading to poor patient engagement. 

Also, these patients consume resources of a higher-level health facility, which can be effectively utilized for emergency cases.

Scenario 3: The government of India provides health benefits to its armed force professionals along with several other government employees. However, to attain these facilities from a private hospital, the beneficiary needs to have a referral letter from the regional ECHS/CGHS polyclinic. Also, the patient needs to travel to regional polyclinics to demand a referral letter. 

Furthermore, during treatment, the patient is required to apply for a new referral letter for every procedure. Which is basically every time the beneficiary moves from one stage of the treatment to the other. 

This condition may seem easy to process, however, it extends the pace of the treatment. For patients, even if their treatment cost is reimbursed fully, the multiple visits to the polyclinic and then to the assigned hospital, impair the care experience. Meanwhile, the healthcare practitioners are forced to reschedule according to the issued dates of the referral letters. 

In such a system, although the patient is treated under a specialist, somehow the convenience of caregiving and care receiving remains conventional and slow. 

So, why not introduce referral module into the healthcare platforms to optimize and advance the referral system in India?

But before that, we need to know the characteristics of an ideal referral system.

  • Adequate coordination and meaningful communication between doctors, patients and referrers. 
  • Reduce the multiple visits to the hospital for documents 
  • Optimal utilization of primary health care services without burdening the secondary and tertiary care units. 
  • Provide optimal care to the patients at the right level, right time and right cost.
  • Cost-efficient utilization of health care systems to provide easy and legit access to referrals. 

In healthcare, the integration of Electronic Medical Records (EMR) and Telemedicine, modules have taken centre stage in healthcare delivery. It is safe to say that these integrations have assisted healthcare stakeholders to a great extent while improving clinical outcomes. 

Due to healthTech platforms at the OP level, the user interface is so easy that the data can be entered by desktop computers, iPad, or even a phone with user access. Similarly, the integration of the referral module on the same platform will assist care providers with an innovative approach to check on patients’ diagnostics reports & follow-up consultations via video calls. Moreover, such platforms readily update patients’ medical records. 

The introduction of such a platform may prove to be a road ahead for stress-free healthcare practices. 

HArbor Says: It’s true that to strengthen primary care, adhering to strict regulations are necessary for existing referral systems in India. However, from the above discussion, it is quite evident that healthcare stakeholders need more than just that for an efficient referral module. Moreso, a referral module integrated healthcare platform is a way forward towards building an ideal referral system in India. 

What do you think?

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.