Author: Anil Kumar, Founder & CEO, SmartRx
Healthcare landscape in India has many challenges starting with access to specialist care in rural areas, skewed doctor–patient ratios, long wait times and finally when your turn comes in, very little doctor time available for a consultation compared to other countries worldwide (thanks to busy doctors and scarcity of specialists). And in the middle of these delivery challenges is the alarming increase in non-communicable diseases or NCD’s. It is estimated that roughly 40% of the adult population already has a chronic condition (asthma, diabetes, hypertension, osteoarthritis) or at significant risk of developing the condition due to family history, eating and sedentary habits, pollution and air quality.
Mobile and internet technology that can be applied to healthcare like the cloud services, wearable devices, internet of things (IOT) has offered tremendous opportunities to solve and mitigate some of the challenges impacting healthcare delivery in India.
We can broadly look at four areas where healthcare transformation is happening and that holds more potential for the future – Improve Healthcare Access, Improvements to Care Delivery, Distribution of healthcare service and Health Management tools and technologies.
Improve Access: Imagine the impact when every mobile becomes a tele-health device that can make doctor consultations and follow-ups happen from any place. Effective tele-health via mobile opens up more doctor slots (Consultations at home, early mornings or late evenings or even in transit) and make it possible to access specialist doctors from tier-2 and 3 cities and towns. Appointments and follow-throughs are streamlined with appointment slot booking and updates happening real time with information available to doctors and patients.
Care Delivery: Access to diagnostic reports and data digitally improves quality of care and contributes to data collections that can be used for clinical research. For example in the case of post-discharge, Care management supplements doctor notes and inputs – It reduces pressure and time involved for doctors to repeat information and instructions that can be made available through technology with reminders and rich media like exercise videos and diet/nutrition charts.
Distribution: Services delivered from the comfort of home saves time and fixes inefficiencies and mark-ups involved in distribution channels. For example, automation in distribution of medicines from the time of prescription to door delivery will be faster and cheaper.
Health Management: Online communities and support groups for doctors and patients bring together people with similar interests to collaborate and improve quality of care and diagnosis. This offers some of the best hope to manage the risks of chronic and lifestyle conditions.
This transformation is in different stages today depending on your provider – doctor, hospital or the locations you live in. But every major healthcare group to smaller hospitals have started forays in these areas. Apollo Hospitals group has made it possible to access health records online and has launched new generation of tele-medicine services. Care Hospital group is offering a whole host of convenience and efficiencies through their patient portal and mobile. A large charity based hospital like Rangadore Memorial Hospital (RMH) offers Care Management for all mobile users (smart phones as well as via text messages).
The transformation has began and as we look out there is will more standardization of these services with greater adoption. Technology innovation holds the best chance to impact and solve some of the healthcare challenges we face.
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