Digitalising healthcare is a key move to improve the overall health of Indian citizens claims a recent article on Trak.In written by Dr Vikram Venkateswaran. The primary improvement that needs to be made is efficiency – utilising superior methods of accessing and communicating patient information, as well as information with regards to educating and informing those about health issues.
One of the key issues faced is the rural/urban divide, according to the article. Eighty percent of hospitals are located in urban settings but seventy percent of the population live in rural villages and smaller towns. This can be partially addressed through mobile healthcare, telemedicine and better access to information via the internet.
The majority of doctors are originally from urban settings. Few will relocate to rural environments following completion of a medical degree. This allows the shortage of doctors in rural villages to continue, and without addressing this, information provided remotely, though not solving the problem, may be the best option available.
The article uses the example of Delhi based company Lybrate. The concept of the project is the development of a health based app, which, due to increased usage of smartphones in India will have a tremendous reach amongst the population. Using the app a person can input symptoms as well as medical history, and have feedback provided by a qualified professional.
Successful schemes such as STEMI India in Tamil Nadu are an example of the potential of digitalised healthcare and improved communication technology. Through improved health information technology, a number of smaller clinics and emergency response services were linked to centralised, percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) capable hub hospitals.
The results of the increased communication between local and larger, better equipped hospitals indicate a significant reduction in mortality and major adverse cardiac events during the trial period, compared to before the study. The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) cardiology section.
Examples such as Image Guided Therapy (IGT) are used as an example of new technology overtaking the old to cut down on risk factors, in this case using x-rays to detect internal issues as opposed to invasive surgery.
Digital technology is progressing at an ever increasing rate, becoming more common in everyday objects in the process. It has shown to be effective in increasing the efficiency of administration processes in and between hospitals, saving lives in the process. It has a huge number of applications in medical procedures, to not take advantage of progressing technology may leave India far behind in terms of healthcare, with its citizens paying the price.