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Nursing getting Hi-tech in Indian cities

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At Delhi-based Healthcare at Home, every nurse is handed a tabletPortea_s_specialized_Nursing_Attendant-1 with proprietary applications. The nurses get their visit schedules and patient addresses on their tablets one day in advance, says Charles Walsh, who along with Gareth Jones founded this service in India with the Burman family, the promoters of the Dabur group.

The Walsh-Gareth duo co-founded Healthcare at Home Ltd in the UK in 1992. The Indian company, which is unrelated to the UK one, started operations in April 2013. The nurses also have access to a patient’s health records, clinical history, hospital discharge summary, lab and imaging reports, along with a detailed care plan that provides information on the medicines and equipment required during a home visit. The tablets are equipped with GPS to help track the location of the nurses.

The tablet helps the nurse to notify the company and a member of the patient’s family when a home visit starts. At the end of the visit, an electronic home-visit report is generated and sent to the doctor, the patient’s family and the company. The report summary could include aspects such as pictorial graphs of basic health parameters, interventions made by the nurse and other observations.

HCAH operates mainly in the North — in the National Capital Region, Chandigarh and Jaipur. It plans to offer services soon in Mumbai and Bengaluru.

Bengaluru-headquartered Portea Medical, a home-healthcare firm with over 1,200 employees and operations in 23 cities, uses a similar method to manage a chunk of its services, with staffers carrying smartphones.
Many of the tablets and smartphones used by nurses and physicians come equipped with proprietary features that allow it to sync with remote diagnostic devices that measure basic health parameters such as blood sugar, blood pressure and temperature with accuracy.

HCAH has 300 employees, of which 70% is the clinical staff comprising nurses, physiotherapists, dieticians, counsellors and healthcare assistants.

While the use of technology undoubtedly makes it convenient for nurses, caretakers of patients and doctors, experts say it is too nascent a phenomenon to independently assess whether there have been any significant health outcomes.

At Portea, they could explore becoming coordinators — to liaison with patients, their families, or nurse educators, or take up roles in reviewing case files.

Nurses can also get to specialize in therapies such as diabetes, oncology, neuro health or home dentistry, like their doctor bosses. Walsh of HCAH is enthused enough to say he would like to see a nurse become the CEO of the company. Florence Nightingale would have approved.

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