Hey Google…..! Hi Alexa…! (based on where your loyalties lie): “Brief me on the impact of technology in healthcare,” and both shot off with alacrity and endlessly, summing up the proverbial Cyborgian takeover of the last human frontier. The whole gamut of ‘Health Care,’ be it outpatient or inpatient, conservative or surgical, preventive or curative, paediatric to geriatric and hospital to home-based care, the infiltration is complete and here to stay.
The present decade has witnessed a meteoric rise in the advent and use of technology in improving healthcare, both for the patient as well as the health service provider. ‘Patient Centricity’ and ‘Self Help’, perceived as decorative, literary terms are now a reality and are being progressively implemented with ‘Tech’ taking all the credit.
The ‘errors’, be it diagnostic or therapeutic, which were acceptable, deemed as intrinsic elements to the practice of medicine are now being systematically identified and eliminated. This is emerging as one of the biggest pros of technological creep. The capturing of enormous data and the ability to analyse it has lent intense flexibility to healthcare and brought in concepts of ‘targeted therapy,’ progressively eclipsing the one-size-fits-all approach.
Although the technological advancement of healthcare in India has been a slow process, the seeds have been firmly planted and are ready to be sown soon. The vastness of our country coupled with a large proportion of the rural population and with a doctor to patient ratio as low as 8 to 1000, technology seems to be the only way to provide quality healthcare, especially with the advancements in audio/visual sectors and the ever-growing ‘web’.
Entrepreneurs in the country have risen to the opportunity and set the ball rolling and a gamut of tech-enabled systems and communication platforms have come to the fore.
Here are a few proposed solutions to lead this transition in the country.
The inability to set up well-equipped hospitals in every district and village and to man them with specialists can be offset by bringing in the specialist virtually to the remotest of places. The platform allows for primary diagnosis, second opinions or follow-ups and treatments which can be instituted with the aid of local healthcare personnel, as well as evaluation of radiological scans (Teleradiology) by experts.
EHRs And PHRs
The poor and disorganised record keeping or the complete lack of it has been the bane of the Indian healthcare system, leading to the loss of vital information, repetitiveness and at times grave errors. The providers often miss out on details, are often sketchy and lack diagnostic and procedural coding, a detail which is no longer being overlooked by the growing health insurance sector, not to mention the increasing medico-legal liabilities.
Healthcare is progressing from reactive to proactive, from curative to preventive and we own the same to our population. The Indian healthcare market has a plethora of wellness products, be it dietetic applications to physical training and tracking applications to self-monitoring.
From locating providers to health screening applications to self-monitoring and tracking platforms to ECG analysis and retinal scans, mobile health has come of age and knows no boundaries.
The day is not distant when hospitals would become redundant for anything but acute care or surgical interventions and the patient would be rendered all else by a virtual physician, who might only just look like a ‘human’, in the serene surroundings of his home.
The opportunities on offer are boundless and the transitional phase is on.