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Digitisation booster dose for a post – COVID world

The COVID-19 pandemic, which has changed life as we know it, showed us over the last 15 months how life can change in no time. It has also opened our eyes to serious gaps in the healthcare delivery system, particularly in the management and treatment of critical care patients. Although this is not a local issue but a global phenomenon, the pandemic has taught us to identify the lacunae in our systems and protocols.

Over the last year, we have learnt that there is no space for complacency or self-satisfaction; we always need to be on our feet. We also learnt that just depending on modern medical technology is not enough and the value of qualified and quality human resource is and always will be paramount.

Take one look at the ERs, critical care units and the white, sanitised corridors of any hospital, and you will know that the women and men behind the machines are just as, if not more, important when it comes to taking quick, yet definitive decisions to save lives. While this has always been true any day at a hospital, it has perhaps become even more important now, given that we have been fighting an invisible enemy, where we are largely unaware of its battle plan but having to face its onslaught every day.

The pandemic is an unprecedented situation, which none of us have ever faced in our lifetime. Indeed, the situation is difficult and has drastically changed what we considered normal around us. Along with this, we also need to keep in mind that we are not just fighting COVID-19 but even other diseases that we have been treating all this, and these need to be treated with equal carefulness.

The introduction of AI and widespread digitalisation has brought about a paradigm shift in every industry including the healthcare industry. In the last few years, with more evident effects as more sophisticated technologies appear to help in providing better clinical outcomes with more precision at lesser time. Processes have also been put in place, which will help convert our systems and processes smarter so that it can minimize the average hospital stay of patients and provide even better clinical outcomes.

It is a result of AMRI Hospitals’ marriage with most advanced technologies, the best doctors and trained healthcare workers, seamless operational management, and best-in-class clinical outcomes to the patients that have allowed us to provide service with compassion and a smile. In the last few years, with more evident effects as more sophisticated technologies appear to help in providing better clinical outcomes with more precision at lesser time.

Currently that vaccination to safeguard against COVID-19 has started, we expect the government to help us move forward by providing more support to the private healthcare sector, which plays a crucial role in delivering healthcare to almost 70 percent of Indians. While the Budget 2021 has made significant allocations for healthcare, the government needs to scale up allocations over the next few years to make the public healthcare delivery system more robust and better structured in order to face such public healthcare crises.

What we have often noticed is that transformation in the healthcare sector is often bogged down by redundant regulations, complicated governance structures, and is slow in adapting to new tools. Now that we have gained some idea as to what the new normal looks like, it should be time to spruce up the healthcare delivery network, right from the district stage and explore better management avenue of primary and secondary levels to ensure a more structured delivery system, introducing SOPs that will filter patients who are in real need of super-speciality care from those who don’t really need hospitalisation (something we have been seeing widely during the pandemic).

Over the next few years, most hospitals will turn into paperless organizations, which will also help put in place a better version of social distancing that is not likely to be done away with too soon, even after the pandemic has been left behind. With digitalisation being the key to better and safer services, prime areas of focus for most healthcare service providers will be preventive healthcare, augmenting beds (keeping in mind all sorts of public health predicaments), and putting more stress on services like day care beds to reduce hospital stay.

The stress on home collection of pathological samples, use of mobile labs, and even features like vaccine-on-wheels, will go a long way in helping to taking healthcare to end users. Another area that needs boost is health insurance by making it more accessible to common people. This will not only help reduce out-of-pocket expenses to a great extent, over time, this will act as a real game-changer for the healthcare delivery system.