Medicine has been practised in various forms for possibly over a million years and it has always been a revered science. It was over the last few centuries that with the need to grow the role of the healer, ‘healthcare’ as the discipline as we know it today, came into being and has been evolving ever since, writes Sangita Reddy, Joint Managing Director, Apollo Hospitals for Elets News Network (ENN).
A multidisciplinary field; healthcare stretches the reach of medicine and it involves the application of science, technology and finance for the delivery of care.
To be true to its intent, its core purpose, healthcare must be equitable and this singular goal has been the driving force for India’s pioneering healthcare family – Apollo Hospitals.
Healthcare in our country has witnessed a sea change especially since private healthcare began in the early eighties. In 1983, Apollo Hospitals in erstwhile Madras opened its doors and introduced advanced medical care which was accessible and affordable for the people of India. Hundreds of businesses emulated Apollo’s model and currently over 60 percent of India’s healthcare needs are met by the private health sector in India.
Reverse brain drain of skilled doctors, investments into healthcare and ease of sourcing high-end medical equipment and technology in particular has been a game-changer in the growth of healthcare in India. Apollo was amongst the first few healthcare providers who harnessed the power of technology to introduce cutting edge medical equipment for diagnosis and treatment of diseases, to perform minimally invasive surgeries, introduce Hospital Management systems, Electronic Medical Records etc.,and more recently to bring about a paradigm shift in accessibility with remote healthcare.
Apollo Remote Healthcare which includes Apollo Telehealth Services, HealthNet Global and Apollo Networking Foundation has revolutionised healthcare with IT. It has taken healthcare to remote locations, shrunk distances and improved turnaround time thereby, providing continuum of care by synergising healthcare services, information and communication technologies (ICT), latest medical equipment’s and patient information systems.
Formerly known as ATNF (Apollo Telemedicine Networking Foundation), it is one of the world’s largest and oldest multispecialty telemedicine networks in South Asia. The organisation, Apollo Remote Healthcare has been purpose- designed to provide specialised solutions such as Tele Consults, Tele Radiology, Tele Cardiology, Tele Ophthalmology, etc.
The innovative models of care offered by Apollo Remote Health model garnered interest from the Central Government and also from several States across India. Innovative partnerships have been forged and some of the major initiatives currently under the aegis of Apollo Remote Healthcare are:
- e- UPHC (electronic urban primary health centre) with 164 centres all across Andhra Pradesh, formally called as Mukhyamantri Arogyam Kendram.
- Tele Ophthalmology (Mukhyamantri e-eye kendram – A Public Private Partnership project with 115 centres in association with Government of Andhra Pradesh.
- Tele Emergency services in the state of Himachal Pradesh.
- Partnership with the National Thermal Power Corporation of India
- Tele Geriatric Care – Tele consultations and Tele emergency services provided through skilled manpower and advanced protocols.
- SEHAT In partnership with the Government of India, Apollo remote healthcare supports over 60,000 CSCs where primary healthcare is rendered across remote geographies at gram panchayat level.
- Beat Diabetes – A social initiative to screen and treat Non- communicable diseases with landmark group.
- “Ask Apollo” – A dynamic portal to provide online consultation at the click of a button, can be accessed globally.
Each of these partnerships underscore a commitment to deliver care seamlessly to our fellow humans and the passion of the organisation to facilitate timely medical attention, critical to saving lives. A decade ago, technology was more of an enabler, but over the years, it has been transformative and has greatly accelerated positive change.
However, juxtaposed against this, a rather unpleasant development has been one of individuals searching the internet for quick fixes, often dubious remedies to treat ailments and often make ill-informed decisions. Moreover, as health care systems around the globe shift towards models that emphasize self-care, there is increasing curiosity to obtain health information online. Various modes of information sources i.e. search engines, online clinical validation reports, newspapers articles; blogs, social media etc. have contributed to patient anxiety because of their “inadequate e-health literacy”. Sadly, this in an odd manner has also triggered mild distrust of doctors and their recommendations, especially when it is about diagnostic tests and medications.
“Apollo Remote Healthcare which includes Apollo Telehealth Services, HealthNet Global and Apollo Networking Foundation has revolutionised healthcare with IT. It has taken healthcare to remote locations, shrunk distances and improved turnaround time”
Medicine is a very complex science and a doctor spends years studying and mastering it. In addition, when it is a complex case, doctors discuss patient care with their peers and seniors before they take major decisions. Hence, bearing these facts in mind, it would hugely erroneous if a layman were to self-medicate or self-diagnose themselves or anyone else. Based on ill-considered knowledge, the decision to ignore a symptom and treat the condition would be tantamount to endangering a life. Trust in the clinician and the hospital is integral to healing and speedy recovery for a patient. It is a team that delivers patient care and belief in them is a must!
Cognizant of the fact that quality is important to inspire trust; professional healthcare providers across our countries have invested in technology to drive transparency and visibility of information to requisite authorities. Apollo Hospitals in Delhi was the first Indian hospital in the country to be accredited by Joint Commission International (JCI) and today there are over 33 hospitals in our country accredited by this gold standard. This international quality accreditation has encouraged patients from over 140 countries to repose their trust in us. JCI inspired the evolution of NABH (National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare Providers. This underlines that India is committed to support the continuous improvement of healthcare for its people.
Continuum of care is just as important as care in the hospital and technology helps in delivering care to the individual wherever they may be – in the hospital, clinic or at home. Similarly, to provide the continuum for international patients, the medical teams at Apollo harness technological platforms to monitor patients and also keep doctors in patient’s home country informed and abreast of the patient’s progress and treatment modality. So, right from saving the life of Ram Singh in Keylong, situated at 14,000 feet above sea level in Himachal Pradesh or caring for Abasi in Tanzania, Apollo would never leave a stone unturned to take advanced care closer to the individual in need.