Neeraj Lal
Vice President and Cluster Head – Bangalore and Karnataka Region
Rainbow Children’s Hospitals

Current Advanced Healthcare Systems In India

The healthcare market in India is blooming with newer technologies and effective care delivery. Various government initiatives – Smart Cities, Clean India, Digital India, are creating an enabling environment giving further push to the services sectors such as communication, healthcare, environment, technology, energy, banking to name a few. Demand drivers

  • Large ageing population
  • Increasing healthcare costs in the western world
  • Increase in chronic and communicable diseases
  • Increase in disposable income aiding affordability of healthcare services
  • Presence of world-class hospitals and skilled medical professionals is an added advantage. Treatment for major surgeries in India costs approximately 10 percent of the cost in most of the developed countries.

On budgetary allocation in healthcare

Being a diverse country with different income levels and aspirations among citizens, it is almost impossible to keep everyone happy with the budget. The launch of a government-funded healthcare plan of this scale, coupled with an increase in the limit of deduction for senior citizens’ health insurance under section 80D, has the potential to significantly increase the mandatory as well as discretionary healthcare spend in the country. There is a pressing need to focus on health systems’ strengthening, and particularly on reforming two critical arms, that is, human resources, planning and budgeting.

Vision for health and family welfare and challenges faced while implementing health services

Quality healthcare is one of the most important factors in how individuals perceive their quality of life. The advent of new consumer technology is introducing even more challenges, or bringing older ones to the fore. This disruptive technology promotes greater patient power. The most agile and forward-thinking health economies have the opportunity to revolutionize the way care is delivered, and in doing so, to transform their societies. Rising costs can be another challenge while implanting healthcare. Macroeconomic factors like aging populations or insufficient public funding are challenging both receivers and providers of healthcare.

On monitoring the quality of private healthcare

Focus on quality. The quality of care is increasingly important – as patients begin to exercise their right to choose how and with whom they engage for their healthcare. They demand transparency of data and processes. As a consequence, healthcare organizations will need to focus on how quality outcomes can be published in a meaningful way for patients. Patient safety is the major focus of patient advocacy groups and healthcare leaders. They will enforce deeper investigations of medication errors, hospital acquired infections, wrong site surgery, or pressure sores, like never before. NABH (under Quality council of India) is now monitoring clinical and managerial indicators hospital wise, state wise, and country wise.

On importance of PPP in making healthcare a success

PPP are one of the most promising models for financing successful healthcare innovations. They offer a number of advantages over traditional financing arrangements, including a single contract, with the scope resolved at the outset; confidence on budget, schedule, and size of the project; an annual service payment based on performance, with the managing company not compensated until the project is delivered as contracted.

On areas where government should invest to make healthcare available to everyone

Digitization has been happening in all sectors, and the health sector in particular stands to gain a lot from such initiatives. Healthcare at affordable and available cost should be the motto.

On current advanced healthcare systems in India

There is an increased use of IT in various fields to increase productivity, cost efficiency, and streamline the processes. In healthcare, the use of IT has contributed for better patient care, cost efficiency, and reduced errors, standardizing the protocols. Benefits of IT in patient appointment scheduling, Q management in OPDs, electronic maintenance of records, in-built patient education tools in devices, remote access of patient records to doctors has been very useful for the patients whereas use of an information system to analyze the wait time, study the costs, easy access of patient records, MIS reports in business analysis has reformed the way organizations are dealing with their businesses. 

Patient care and management through IT:

  • Use of IT has revolutionized the patient care. Now the small and large healthcare setups are dependent on appointment booking platforms which has replaced the conventional calling systems. This is saving time and cost both to hospitals and patients. This has helped in reduction of man power and also reduced the errors and delays of conventional calling systems
  • Lead management through software has helped track the inflow of patients and provides a wide opportunity for data analysis
  • The innovation of such technology has been patient centric. The patient is given all the required attention; he is constantly motivated to seek support and is monitored all the time
  • Technology like the patient Q-management systematically manages the patient inflow to a doctor
  • Patient education and exchange of information between a doctor/hospital and the patient has saved time and cost for both the sides through IT like in exchange of lab and radiology reports for a doctor’s opinion
  • Patients who are staying miles away can now have their first consult with the doctor without even meeting him personally. This had brought down the first visit apprehensions faced by few patients to an extent 
  • Hospitals have designed their own personalized apps to help patients get to them; these apps not only contain the organization/hospital information but also have a lot of patient education content which is validated by the experts in the field 

IT has been very useful in the maintenance of patient records. Digitalizing the records has helped in saving storage space and retrieval has been made easy. These digital records are safe unlike the conventional paper records which are more susceptible to physical damages. Digital records can be accessed and shared remotely. The lab and radiology reports can also be scanned and stored. There are newer technologies to store the radiology reports in required resolution. Follow-ups have been made more systematic by setting up of timely notifications to the patient and the doctor or hospital; this has been very useful in cases where the patients are asked for short interval follow-up visits such as in vaccinations, chemotherapy, post-surgery follow-ups, physiotherapy, study of slowly progressing chronic ailments etc.

Picture archiving and communication system (PACS) is a network of computers used by radiology departments that replaces film with electronically stored and displayed digital images. This uses a server and allows facile access to high-quality radiologic images, including conventional films, CT, MRI, PET scans, and other medical images over a network. Business intelligence tools have been very useful to analyze the business trends within the company and in comparison with the competitors. These business intelligence tools are placed on top of the regular information systems to get data feed. Sometime the BI tools also give an idea to organizations about their market placement midst their competitors. These tools are extremely useful to plan and strategize marketing activities. 

To summarize, healthcare professionals have relied hugely on IT to direct, retain, educate, monitor, treat, and follow-up their patients which has been beneficial for both sides. The innovation in this field is very dynamic and is warmly welcome by healthcare professionals like me!

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