Technology Adoption by Doctors Improving the Indian Healthcare Delivery System

Date:   Tuesday , February 21, 2017

Headquartered in New Delhi, eMediNexus is an innovative healthcare technology platform that enables doctors and other medical professionals to connect with each other for second opinion and sharing a patient\'s medical results.

Technology has touched every aspect of human life. This is true of the healthcare sector as well. Even till a few years back, India\'s healthcare sector was lagging behind in terms of technology adoption. However, the recent times have brought in some much-needed development. The union of technology and healthcare has opened up new avenues to address a multitude of issues. From storing medical records to diagnostic and therapeutic methodologies, technology is revolutionizing the healthcare delivery system in the country. Research firm Gartner reveals that $1.2 billion was spent on healthcare related IT products and services alone in 2015, which is up by seven percent over the previous year.

The Challenges

Some of the problems that IT can help address in the country include -

  • According to the WHO, the doctor-to-patient ratio in India is a mere 1:1700, even when there are more than 6.5 lakh doctors currently available.

  • The quality of healthcare services delivered to the citizens is also a matter of concern, with limited service reaching rural areas. Information dissemination is another challenge as is visibility of beds, essential medicines, equipment and life saving resources such as blood.

  • Paper-based record keeping causes delay in retrieval of patient information and diagnosis, leading to hindrance in referral mechanism at every stage.

  • Cost of quality healthcare is also high. About 70 percent of India\'s population is still within rural boundaries and still relies on the public healthcare system. Access to life-saving services comes at a premium and is available to only select segments of the population.

  • Technology & the Healthcare Industry

    Owing to increased convergence of healthcare and technology, the huge potential in the healthcare delivery segment is being tapped, more so with the help of enhanced association and information sharing in the system. The sector is now seeing modernization of record maintenance, diagnostic & treatment routes, and availability of caregivers over a vast area and network.

    Mobility & Penetration

    The adoption of telemedicine and internet-based services has strengthened the digitization framework of the healthcare industry. The use of technology has opened the gates to a seamless world of medicine where doctors and patients can interact real-time. It has brought a sigh of relief to primary healthcare providers and general practitioners (GP) who now have easier access to second opinions. GPs who cater to 80 percent of the patients in India can quickly login to digital network for quick advice from specialists, and making treatment options for complicated cases more proficient. The use of smart phones and video chats has taken the availability of both primary and specialized healthcare beyond the boundaries of time and space into a 24x7 environment.

    Under the eHealth initiative, as part of the Government\'s Digital India campaign, concepts like ePharmacy, eDiagnostics, eInsurance, and eReferrals are transforming the healthcare sector into a robust ecosystem. Telemedicine has made it possible for patients from Tier-II and Tier-III cities to get access to top specialists located in metro cities. These concepts have not only reduced the waiting time for doctors and enabled them to attend patients more efficiently, but also made it easy for patients to get appointments, lab reports and other critical healthcare support.

    Continuing Education Media

    Another aspect of the healthcare industry that has witnessed a dramatic change is the ease of knowledge upgradation. Medicine is a rapidly evolving field and doctors are constantly busy. They need information in a crisp format in order to update themselves on a daily basis to continuously improve their practice and treatment. Digital platforms provide them with the latest news and journal articles in a summarized form enabling quick reading.

    Many new ventures in the sector are offering continuous medical education programs for doctors to update their knowledge. Some of these training programs are targeted at GPs and primary healthcare providers, as they have to deal with many patients with vast disease conditions. These education products are invaluable especially in a scenario where the country faces an acute scarcity of dedicated specialists available. For example, India has only 6500 psychiatrists and 200 million people suffering from some sort of mental health issues. Given the fact that a majority of these patients go to a GP first, it becomes critical that GPs are given the opportunity to equip themselves through digital media to handle these patients and know when to refer them to a specialist.

    Cloud Networking

    Medical records are now being stored in digital formats, enabling instant access to medical images and electronic patient records in the form of videos, infographics, and digital images. This has improved consulting time as well as the time taken for diagnosis and treatment. Digitization of health records has helped doctors to better manage their clinics and hospitals. Patient data records in electronic format are easier to retrieve and make it convenient for GPs to refer patients for advanced treatment if the need be. These databases can easily be linked across a digital network, which acts as a centralized station for hospitals, health centers, diagnostic centers, and research labs for record keeping and updation.

    There are exciting technological innovations and developments taking place in this segment. With many startups reshaping the healthcare ecosystem, the potential for growth in the future is also immense. eMediNexus is one of such startup that caters to the sector\'s continuous medical education needs. It provides a real-time forum for doctors from all fields to interact and exchange information and knowledge for symbiotic excellence.