The global technology firm CISCO had published the results of a study they concluded in 10 countries in 2013. If the study results are to be believed, respondents said that they were more comfortable using technology to talk to their doctors than ever before. So in a way basic Telehealth may finally take off across the globe.
Almost 76 % of the respondents said that they would rather call or text their physician than to meet them face to face. This is a direct result of the increased convergence in the adoption in technology seen in other sectors. Patients just like consumers, now feel the need for enhanced experience when they interact with care providers. This also provides an ample opportunity for knowledge sharing and collaboration among doctors, governments, patients and hospitals.
The 4 key technologies that came out as preferred mode of digital interactions were
4) Video chat
The interesting part about these three channels are that they are not new and have been around for a while. Also they would be considered older technologies in the digital world but for Healthcare as technology adoption is relatively slow, they might provide new answers to the ever present problems of cost and quality.
But its not like technology would replace doctor appointments completely. Most of the respondents preferred technology only for
2) Treatment Reminders
3) Information on side effects of the drugs
4) Medication reminders
Thought India was not covered as part of the study I feel there are significant ramifications for us as well
1) India needs to use technology if we have to get healthcare to our vast population. It also overcomes the chronic issue of shortage of medical practitioners in the country.
2) Technology can reduce the cost of care as evident from models like the “Prescription SMS in Madhya Pradesh ‘ or the E MAMTA program in Gujrat. Older and simpler technology has been used very effectively in the past. So all we have to is to scale the effort and standardize the process.
3) It also reduces the need for care providers to build physical infrastructure and thus solving another major issue in India as there is no infra at present.
But finally we also need a change in the mindset. I know of times when Doctors refuse to give any consultation either over phone or sms. I once reached out to a gynecologist, and this was the time when I was practicing Dentistry. This Lady refused to answer a simple question on adverse drug reaction for one of my patients. Rather she insisted on a face to face visit for such a trivial matter.
In conclusion technology adoption is dependent on people and processes. But I think a start has to be made to make them more effective in the healthcare arena, especially in India.
As always comments and suggestions are welcome.