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Healthcare or ‘health repair’? How technology can make a difference

At a time when India is grappling with the dual burden of communicative and non-communicative diseases, the latter seems to be winning the battle. However instead of healthcare, what we often do is carry out health repairs that too when it is already too late. In this view, technology has emerged as a great enabler to help us move from health repair to wellness.

“We don’t do healthcare. All that we do is health repair and we start it at a point where it is mostly already irreparable. Ideally, smart healthcare would be that I enjoy the health and somebody else takes care of the care part. That somebody could be a technology, an agency, a person or a process. That is the smart way to deal with it,” said Jay Prakash Dwivedi, Chief Information Officer, Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and Research Centre, New Delhi, while expressing his thoughts on smart healthcare at the 7th Healthcare Leaders Forum (HLF).

All that smartness can bring or technology can deliver is a series of steps that can start taking care of the ‘care’ part.

“The first step is to monitor that how I am doing physically — how much am I excercising, what am I eating and what is my sleeping habit while I am still healthy. It will help us to move from healthcare to wellness. The second step is providing information. Once something goes wrong, the technology informs me that you are going to encounter some problem. Also inform the nearby hospital that there is an incoming emergency case,” Dwivedi said.

The third step is providing health alerts and reminders. “It tells me that you are due for a particular test or medicine. Then comes the subjects of accessibility, affordability, arranged tele-medicine, tele-consultancy, etc,” he added.

There are number of other ways technology can help us move from health repair to wellness.

“Technology touches so many aspects. The very fundamental issue is the patient safety. Incorrect identification of the patient and incorrect selection of the site for surgery are not very uncommon. Now technologies like barcoding can help track which medicine has been given to which patient and by which nurse, avoiding many hazardous consequences,” Dwivedi added.

IT can also be used to give easy access of patient information to doctors.

“Doctors need information to treat patients, particularly in a cancer setup where a patient needs to make 20-30 visits for treatment. Doctors need to have access to the data about medical history and imaging records. This is where technologies like PACS (Picture Archiving and Communication System) are proving to be of great help,” he said.

Technology can also help in many process automation, where the doctor prescription is not involved but everything else can be taken care of by technology. It will impact the patient experience as well as the clinical outcome and cost.

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