While competent healthcare is the need of the hour with the looming coronavirus pandemic, it is also an industry that has taken a huge blow to the revenues given the circumstances.
In India, the Healthcare Organizations face two major challenges at the moment. Firstly, as the private sectors are eagerly pitching in to help with the covid situation and reduce strain on the government facilities, they need to be prepared with manpower and resources. Secondly, with the constant rise in the number of covid positive cases, elective and OPD visits are dismal.
Both situations impact the revenue directly and adversely. In order to maximize available resources and reduce burden on the already exhausted physician workforce, healthcare organisations need to resolutely look at adapting new technologies.
Digitization of Patient Records
While Electronic Health Records (EHR) is a prevalent practice in the western countries, India is in the nascent stage of adoption of digitizing patient records. The large Healthcare Organizations digitize patient information for internal reference, not so much the entire case history as yet, but a definitive step in that direction. A one click case history for a patient’s medical treatment is needed to unburden physicians and clinicians from hours of debilitating administrative work.
There are instances in India where certain states have mandated the use of electronic health records in public hospitals. Certain large and specialty hospitals have also adopted the use of EHRs. However, these records are to maintain summary records of patients mostly for billing purposes rather than for clinical purposes.
Clinical data management continues to be a significant challenge for healthcare organizations. Numerous studies have shown that these challenges impede the care delivery to the patients. In addition, Physicians as well as clinical staff spend a significant amount of time accessing and updating these documents, resulting in more hours at the job for documentation work leading to burnouts.
The adoption of Digitization of Patient Records would almost certainly improve the quality of care that the patients receive. Perhaps, it is time for Healthcare Organizations to look at adopting these presently available technologies close to home. As larger healthcare players make their foray and build their presence in the Indian healthcare landscape, adaption of best practices to streamline such challenges looks like a possibility sooner.
The Promise of Big Data in Healthcare
Healthcare Organizations continue to face significant burden due to the increasing workload and decreasing revenue given the coronavirus pandemic. A technologically savvy strategy would help organizations streamline data and manage costs.
Big data closely works on addressing multitude of challenges, once patient health records are digitized, and longitudinal patient records are created and maintained. For better patient care, data can be used for data mining and analysis to identify causes of illnesses. Big Data can also be critical to drive revenue growth by identification of value that drives better patient outcomes for long-term savings.
Big data can be leveraged to aggregate data to drive hyper-personalized care by preventive analytics / data analysis of genetic, lifestyle and social circumstances to prevent disease; harnessing data to spot medication errors and flag potential adverse reactions; and monitor data to identify disease trends and health strategies based on demographics, geography & socio-economics.
Challenges to realizing the potential of data in Healthcare
While we gear up to revolutionize Healthcare as it is today, there are challenges along the way that can be overcome with the right tools and partnerships. The challenges begin with the gargantuan task of capturing this data, most data in India is stored in physical form, this would require digitizing it first and then assigning it to the right platform from where it can be accessed.
Data as sensitive as patient’s health information needs an exceptional security system in place with the right protocols for permissions, and rights to ownership. As organizations move towards focused improvement an ideal partner would be able to facilitate the three stages of digital transformation – converting data from physical to digital, converting digital data to make processes digital, and leveraging data to transform how business is done.
Global trends indicate a strong affinity towards driving digitization to digitalization, eventually to digital transformation. India is on the precipice of a technology revolution in the healthcare sector on the heels of its western counterparts. Getting ready for Big Data would deliver real value to patients, care teams, and organizations today.
How we look at healthcare and the expectations of patient care delivery are evolving at a rapid pace. Although the pandemic has put pressure on organizations currently, it is also motivation for the healthcare industry to deep dive into the existing challenges and be aware of the available solutions, with an agility to adapt quickly. Technology in healthcare, like many other sectors, plays a crucial role in sustaining businesses and bouncing back from the prevailing impediment, smart organizations will adapt and come through on the other side of this crisis triumphant.
The author is Chief Digital Transformation Officer, IKS Health
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