April 2012

The Change Agent in Healthcare

All healthcare processes rely heavily on technology, says Dr Gayatri Vyas Mahindroo

Dr Gayatri Vyas Mahindroo, Director, NABH, Quality Council of India

Health technology is the application of organised knowledge and skills in the form of devices, medicines, vaccines, procedures and systems developed to solve a health problem and improve quality of life. Effective health technology address accessibility, affordability and availability of innovative and core medical devices required to target the health needs. To achieve this there are four phases of medical devices – research and innovation, regulation for device safety, assessment for better decision making, and comprehensive management.

Clinical Engineers are part of the clinical and management team, and work closely with the medical practioners to achieve optional use of technology in healthcare. Typically, the purpose of a medical device is not achieved by pharmacological, immunological or metabolic means. Medical devices in particular are crucial in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of illness and disease, as well as patient rehabilitation.

Medical equipment is used for the specific purposes of diagnosis and treatment of disease or rehabilitation following disease or injury; it can be used either alone or in combination with any accessory, consumable, or other piece of medical equipment. Medical equipment excludes implantable, disposable or single-use medical devices.

Technology not only includes equipment, devices, drugs, biologics and procedures that it enables, but also the organisational and support systems within which it is used. All care processes rely heavily on technology and the patient is the centre of an intricate network of clinicians medical equipment & devices and other elements. The burden of life style and non communicable diseases has raised the demand of medical technologies, which can be used at home for detection and monitoring purposes. Data security and authentication has key role, in the domain of medical electronics.

About four to six percent Indian population is suffering from Diabetes. They need devices such as glucometers, dialysis and insulin pumps. About one to two percent population is visually impaired or blind. They need devices such as lenses and ophthalmoscopes.

There is a direct link between work environment and patient safety (Quality Healthcare Standards). Therefore, if we are not addressing our work environment, we are not addressing patient safety. Creating healthy work environments requires changing long-standing cultures, traditions and hierarchies. Though everyone must be involved in the creation of healthy work environments, the onus is on the organisational leaders to really make it happen.

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