Transforming Medical Infrastructure
Ihave been fortunate to be a part of this sun rise industry over the past 30 plus years and track its growth from very close quarters. During the late 80s – early 90s, proliferation of PCs led to the emergence of connected products as also IT into the Healthcare system. It started with Billing and operations management, followed by device interconnections, documentation and imaging, data capture and repository. The convergence of digital and information technologies saw a huge leap – in enabling diverse applications like Clinical Decision support systems, assisted interpretation, big data & analytics. Come in mobility and we now see social media driving healthcare behaviors as also health care dispensation.
It would be a very fair statement to say that IT has transformed the way patient care is managed. Whether it be in the field of wellness, prevention, diagnosis, investigations, treatment, documentation, retrieval of information, access to state of the art knowledge, medical instrumentation, teaching or research, IT has made its presence felt. We are now on a path to reduce the gaps between the “haves” and the “have-not”. The combination of biology, genetics, digital technologies and empirical analysis will drive personalised medicine. The future is left to imagination.
Connecting Healthcare via ICT
IT brings along with it many advantages. It will level the playing field. It helps transcends the gap between expertise availability and need. It will also help in the decongestion of tertiary care centers and enhance foot falls at the primary or secondary care centers – thereby helping doctors manage their patients based on their acuity. Three major issues plaguing the healthcare sector is cost, quality and access. IT should help in enhancing productivity on all the three axes. The current scenario demands an immediate emphasis be laid on preventive healthcare.
Shift in Perception
Practitioners have begun to see the benefits of IT. In the present day environment, IT is a way of life. Mobile phones, tablets and Internet have redefined the way we live and engage. This has also acted like a catalyst in driving behavior changes in healthcare systems. Ecosystem does put a tremendous pressure on the hospitals to embrace IT. The move from product thinking to solution thinking as also serving the customers over the care continuum is enabled by integrating IT into their way of working. They see tangible benefits in the form of improved patient care, labour reduction, improved quality and consistency.
The convergence of IT and healthcare is both a boon and a bane. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have great potential to address some of the challenges faced by us in providing accessible, cost effective, highquality health care services. Telemedicine helps overcome geographical barriers and increase access to health care services. This is particularly beneficial for semi urban, rural and underserved communities – groups that traditionally suffer from lack of access to health care. IT will be the force multiplier in the decentralisation process of healthcare.