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Using Digital Tech to Build a Future-Ready Healthcare Ecosystem

healthcare

The pandemic has revived a decade-old agenda of healthcare digital transformation in India. From artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, healthcare trackers, wearables, and sensors to Clinical Decision Support (CDS), we are certainly heading towards digital healthcare ecosystem.

Today, healthcare technologies are not only evolving at a fast-pace but also updating on basis of emergence of new diseases and changing profile of existing diseases.On one hand, technology is revolutionizing the access of patients to medical care, on other hand, there is an escalating demand to provide doctors with platforms that offer unprecedented convenience and precision. This is where the role of digital platforms such as CDS plays a crucial role as they aid to improve patient outcomes by providing doctors the latest information in real time basis.

Every minute is critical, when a patient visits a doctor with a disease which requires an immediate medical intervention. In such cases, to get the information about disease and its possible line of treatment, the doctor requires a platform with verified and reliable information.As we all know, internet is flooded with all type of content which may include unverified and half cooked information also.

The biggest challenge is to get access to filtered data which is approved by experts and available on a single medium. With advancements in digital technology, we now have CDS system which can be accessed through mobile applications that have accurate information about the correct treatment options on one platform, saving the doctor’s time and efforts. By providing clinical decision support that is evidence-based, clinicians have access to best medical practices, and can safely eliminate practices that are proven to be ineffective.

Digital technologies become even more significant at a time when India is looking to be a digitally empowered country. In 2019, the government of India released NDHB (National Digital Health Blueprint) that emphasizes on leveraging digital technologies for enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of healthcare delivery. While recognizing the gaps in the health care systems, the policy at that time, recommended a paradigm shift from the existing systems working in silos to a more comprehensive and holistic health ecosystem. The extensive deployment of digital technologies is the most promising approach adopted by National Health Policy to achieve this goal.

As the rising COVID-19 cases have overwhelmed healthcare systems worldwide, people are moving towards virtual modes of seeking treatment. From diagnosis to prognosis, digital technologies are helping in procuring personalized line of treatment for patients like never before. Post COVID 19, healthcare services would resume, and interaction of patients with healthcare providers would need new mediums and this would evolve dramatically.

New support systems would also help even the most experienced clinicians and care teams to keep up with newer and advanced standards of care. CDS system with evidence-based content that is robust enough to answer most of their questions at the point of care enhances the quality of care, improving health outcomes. It helps avoid medical errors and adverse events after treatment, is cost effective and provides patient satisfaction. Such technologies are designed to not just improve clinical judgement but also to address the growing overload of information faced by doctors every day.

Today, hospitals are integrating healthcare technologies such as CDS tools that provide accurate and efficient clinical results. The digital platform started as an electronic method of recording patient chart and it has evolved into a medium used for personalized, precision, and predictive medicine now.

Technologies like CDS systems are rich in content and developed by experienced experts, using published guidelines and protocols in accordance with international standards. Along with tools like CDS helping doctors, we are also witnessing an increased use of telemedicine that provide clinical expertise to areas without doctors.

These are indications that digital health technologies are here to stay, even after COVID-19. Moreover, the future of healthcare entails technologies that combine data on a patient’s medical history, insurance coverage and real-time health and can support doctors in decision-making, improving patient outcomes.

(Dr. Gajendra Singh is a Public Health Expert and the views expressed in the article are his own)

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