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Digital Health Healthcare Technology Public Health

Population Health Management through Digital Tools

Dr Pallabi Roy

Does the Public Health Industry need a Digital Makeover?

Have you heard of buzzwords like ‘Tech Trends’?

Blockchain, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, and the Internet of Things?

As a Healthcare Professional, you might have heard of these digital tools.

Aren’t sure about what they mean? You’re not alone!

We often ignore the technical aspects of a project.

We deal only with the core Biological Sciences.

But this approach needs some amount of tweaking. With the heavy penetration of digital tools in Healthcare, we must embrace the digital era. There is no going back to Pre COVID-19 times!

Isn’t population health management a well-known concept in the Public Health domain?

Yes, it is, but digitization is changing the face of this sector. 

Public health challenges like tuberculosis, HIV, malaria, and other communicable diseases still exist. India’s healthcare industry is going through a transitional stage. The disparity between the rich and the poor is becoming more clear. This gap creates poor health outcomes and using digital tools, we can bridge this.

Why should healthcare professionals bother about these tools?

It’s because they are going to be the harbingers of change!

The Finance Minister allocated Rs 69,000 crore for the healthcare sector. The 2020-21 Union Budget looked better than last year. This is another spectrum where digital tools can come in. FinTech can help divide funds according to the needs of our country.

80% of our fund allocation can elevate health promotion and disease prevention. Using digital tools, we can deliver these healthcare services to the rural parts of India. The public health workforce is working hard and adopting these measures. How can you leverage these tools for research and evidence-based treatment protocols?

Technology has made it easier to reach out. This holds true not only for remote areas but also for an international ecosystem. Doctors can use this approachable network as a reference. Digital tools are facilitating knowledge and implementation, in new-age India.

The Government of India has come up with training and guidelines for telemedicine. Tele-Consultations in specializations like Ophthalmology, Radiology, Mental Healthcare, and Obstetrics-Gynaecology have created waves. ASHA workers (Accredited Social Health Activists) are warming up to digital tools. These include virtual training and EMRs (Electronic Medical Records). We are observing a gradual improvement in primary levels of population health management.

Mother and Child Care programs are improving since e-governance is possible. There are online registries that get updated every week by these healthcare facilitators.

We use them for tracking data like child mortality rates and cases of tuberculosis. Cases of COVID-19 are being monitored through similar means.

National Digital Health Mission has an agenda that we cannot sideline. Our government is centralizing healthcare. This gives us time to catch up with tech trends. It gives us time to understand these digital tools and make the most of them in our clinical practices.

Which are some digital tools that you have used for population health management?

About the Author

Dr Pallabi Roy is a dentist and works as a marketing professional, podcaster and an influencer in the area of digital health. She can be reached on Linkedin- https://in.linkedin.com/in/pallabiroy27

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Healthcare Technology Uncategorized

Patient Experience in the Digital world

In January 30 2020, India recorded its first case for Corona Virus popularly known as Covid19. Since then India has seen a series of lockdowns and as we inch towards somewhat of a partial recovery, the question around the state of our healthcare system has become centre stage again.

Since the 1940’s where the Bhore committee gave its recommendations for developing the healthcare structure in India, as a nation we have been playing catch up with demand far exceeding the supply in terms of doctors, diagnostic equipment, hospital beds and medicines.

In addition the wellness programs have been struggling and preventive measures have not been very successful. In this context the corner stone of the healthcare system in India has become the hospital.

What determines a successful healthcare intervention is patient experience. Today with the advent of telehealth and the guidelines given by Medical Council of India, it becomes even more important for hospitals to focus on patient experience and add to the growth of the industry.

What determines a successful healthcare intervention is an excellent patient experience #Healthcare #DigitalHealth

What is Patient Experience?

Private hospitals have long tracked patient satisfaction ratings, but they didn’t always carry great significance. While all hospitals want happy patients, most hospitals have been historically plagued with the “doctor knows best” mentality — a mentality where clinical outcomes outweigh “touchy-feely” indicators such as patient satisfaction or overall patient experience.

However, in recent years, some leading institutions in India have begun to focus more heavily on providing an outstanding patient experience. Drivers for this include growing consumerism and transparency for healthcare services and increased interest from both consumers and providers in patient-centred care.

Why Patient Experience is important to Hospitals?

Healthcare consumers increasingly view their experience with a provider as a key consideration for determining if they’ll return to or recommend the provider, largely because it remains one of the few ways consumers can differentiate providers. Over the past few decades, clinical outcomes have improved dramatically, and patients no longer view favourable outcomes as a key differentiator as these are expected. What remains is the patient’s overall experience, which encompasses everything from customer service to patient-centeredness and care coordination among providers. 

Also given the growth of Tele Health, it would become even more important for hospitals to focus on patient experience in order to create a favourable experience and create the hook that would bring patients and others in the community back to the hospital.

The key is how you make the patients feel

Key Parameters of Patient Experience in a Hospital

While there are many parameters that determine patient experience, we have tried to list down a few key ones that might influence the satisfaction index more than the others.

  1. Patient Appointment Experience
  2. Patient Online Portal
  3. Social Media and Digital Out Reach
  4. Facility for the In-Patient Service and Emergency Service
  5. Patient’s Access to medical Records
  6. Patient Information
  7. Clinical Outcomes
  8. Value Added Service

“The art of medicine consists of amusing the patient while nature cures the disease”

Voltaire

While many of these parameters are difficult to understand or assess, as part of this report we have identified Social Media as a parameter that we would like to evaluate. In order to do so, we have identified 6 Hospitals across India. These hospitals are

  1. AIIMS
  2. Apollo Hospitals
  3. Fortis
  4. Manipal Health
  5. Narayana Health
  6. Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital

We have tried to mix it up between hospitals from the government sector and private sector and also among general hospitals and super speciality hospitals. Below is our analysis of the key parameters between the social media presence of these major hospitals.

I believe that Social media is an indicative parameter. It shows whether there is a foundational maturity in the digital program of the hospital. Also, a lot of patient experience is visible by the comments and interactions with the hospital’s social media channels.

The findings of our analysis are captured in the report below.

Download the Report

Would be happy to discuss and see how you can build your digital experience for patient engagement. Do write in to discuss.

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Healthcare Technology

Why is there no AI in Healthcare India?

Just a few days ago I was on a webinar on Healthcare. The topic was the use of AI in Healthcare and the implications of Ethics in the same.

While all panelists spoke eloquently about the topic, I was trying to recall where have I seen AI in action in India. Unable to find too many instances, I spoke to my good friend and the editor of the New Age Healthcare Website Dr Sumeet Kad. Below is a recording of our interesting conversation.

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Healthcare Technology

Healthcare India among the top 100 Health Tech Websites in the World

Healthcare India has been again listed in the top 100 Health Tech Websites and Influencers for 2020. It has been a great comeback for us considering only a couple of months ago the site was hacked. The hacker not only added himself as admin but also created 1 lakh junk pages and google had blacklisted the site.

Due to the efforts of Ganesh Acharya our Chief Media Officer we were able to come back, and back into the top 100.

Healthcare India as a forum was created to address the lack of access, poor quality, and improved outcomes for millions of Indians. We believe this is possible only through technology and better processes. This new recognitiion helps us to strive harder to improve healthcare in India.

Also a shout out to our friends from HCIT and New Age Healthcare for being listed in the top 100 as well. Making India proud.

Below is the list of the top 100 Websites and influencers.

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Healthcare Technology

New guidelines launched for Telemedicine Practice by Medical Council of India and Niti Aayog

One of the perplexing questions that have baffled technologists for long is why the regulators have not approved the use of teleconsultation for doctors. In the past, I have felt the need for Tele-Consultation or Telemedicine, tremendously to improve care in India.

Here are my reasons

  1. As a doctor, I used to see the 8 hours of works heavily imbalanced. I was free for the first 5 hours of the day but loaded towards the evening. The last three hours and especially the weekends would be packed and I would be overworking at that time. If I had to balance that time well, was If I could equally load the patients throughout that 8 window period. But as I would have to meet the patients and they might require someone to bring them to the clinics.
  2. Our health infrastructure, both in terms of people, beds and devices, is based in the cities. Our rural areas are underserved and they need to make the trip tot he cities for any healthcare service. Sometimes even to take a blood test or an X-Ray. While they might need to make the trip to avail of lab facilities, through Tele Medicine, this problem should be solved.
  3. India needs cheap access to care. Most consultations are expensive as they take into account the investments in infrastructure, rent, etc. With Telemedicine, one has to only pay rent for platform and bandwidth charges. The overall cost of consultation should come down.

While I have argues for this for long, the regulations until recently did not allow for telemedicine or teleconsultation.

The breakout of Covid19 has changed everything. With social distancing emerging as the best defense against Covid19 it is obvious that the next step was the guidelines for telemedicine from the Medical Council of India.

On 25th March 2020, the Medical Council of India along with Niti Aayog has released the Telemedicine Practice Guidelines. The document can be found here

In summary, these are the key areas covered by the document.

  1. Guidelines for Telemedicine in India Elements specific to Telemedicine
  • Appropriateness of Telemedicine  
  • Identification of RMP and the patient
  • Appropriateness of technology/Mode of Telemedicine
  • Patient Consent · Patient Evaluation · Patient Management: Health education, counselling and medication Duties and responsibilities of RMP in general
  • Medical Ethics, Data Privacy & Confidentiality  
  • Documentation and Digital Records of Consultation
  • Fee for Telemedicine

 2) Framework for Telemedicine

  • Patient to Registered Medical Practitioner  
  • Care Giver to Registered Medical Practitioner  
  • Patient to RMP through Health Worker at a Sub Center or any peripheral center
  • Registered Medical Practitioner to another RMP / Specialist

3) Guidelines for Technology Platforms enabling Telemedicine

I would recommend that everyone should read these guidelines. It’s a great read for startups and technology providers planning to build these platforms and healthcare providers planning to develop their telemedicine services.

As always questions and clarifications are welcome.