Especially for India, it would mean better and easier access to hospital, doctor and patient information, more structured communication among healthcare providers, digitised records and even analytical support for patterns. So in certain cases electronic health records can help providers keep track of patient information and can even alert them automatically to possible problems. There are now communication and database systems that are able to help providers make decisions about treatment, and of course, technology that comes in the form of wearable devices, data and even diagnostic tools. One of the biggest needs of the hour is patient records with accurate data. Once we have this information, and increasing volumes of patient data, the supply of services can be optimized and analyzed, it maybe even help in early detection of some fatal diseases. Accurate data will not only depend on electronic patient records but also new systems to verify data. A complete track record of previous healthcare activities, providers and medications will help practitioners take informed decisions in the event of an episode.
India is not a unique market but certainly differentiated, since our social problems reflect on our healthcare systems. This ensures there is ample space for evolution and innovation, and the main areas where this is happening are Hospital information systems (HIS), Picture archiving and communication system (PACS), and Remote installation services (RIS), Electronic medical records (EMR) and Clinical systems.
As in developed countries, technology trends such as mobile health, personal health records (PHRs), the implementation of e-health systems and clinical analytics is fast gaining ground in India as well. But the key area where ICT adds value to the healthcare sector is in information management. It will help healthcare providers to meet continuously evolving compliance requirements, creating good scope for vendors with solutions in these areas.
Puneet Gupta, Entrepreneur in Residence, Product Owner – SAP Health Central, SAP Labs India lists out some areas where ICT can play a pivotal role in this industry, “With adoption of ICT, Healthcare Industry is bound to see a disruptive change. Soon, it would be easy to connect and have access to the latest healthcare advancements in any part of the world and consult with the best specialists in the industry. The level and quality of healthcare service will see a drastic improvement.”
He lists the primary areas of focus as –
Population health – Advancements in mobile and communication technology has opened up huge opportunity of providing health services in remote areas where traditionally it has been difficult to provide even primary health services due to resource and infrastructure constraints. Improvement in overall wellbeing of society can be achieved through awareness programs, regular screening, preventive measures, disease registries, referral management in connected hospital network and tele health.
Wellness programs – with increased awareness and focus around preventive healthcare and emergence of wearable technology, this space is bound to see great advancements. With exponential increase in reported lifestyle disease cases, guided and monitored wellness programs are becoming more and more desirable. This will bring healthcare management in the hands of people and will result in a healthier generation.
Home care – With ageing population and families becoming nuclear, elderly care at home is becoming very important. Home care solutions which help a family doctor keep track of person’s health and intervene or consult whenever there is an adverse spike in body vitals through video conferencing and connected health monitors will be of great value.
Connected Healthcare– Connected healthcare ecosystem, enabling information and health records sharing between providers, allowing a single online digital health card for the patient and people at large will become reality. This will help people manage their health history better and will result in improvements in the delivery of services.
Research and genomics – with increase in online digital health data and availability of faster computing, big data analytics will provide greater insights to the researchers and will take advancements in the research to a new level. Decision support systems for better treatment and health profiling based on genetic patterns will see a big leap.
Rapidly changing socio economic scenario has make patients (which are customers here), more aware, and demanding. They are looking for more transparent and seamless data flow to ensure cost efficiencies and time saving as well as transparency for their last rupee spent. Better R&D offers continuous innovations, so greater agility and saleability is needed as well. One smart move to meet all these expectations is to move digitized patient data- Electronic Health Records (EHR) of patients to the cloud with centralized and secure access. Here, mobile device access will also play a great role for all the stakeholders. This will also help facilitate real time collaboration; much better quality of patients is due to omnipresent communicability and a huge increase in agility. This would also have the added advantage of providing data for much better analytics and of course, with devices that enable remote diagnostics, remote services can be provided to patients in the comfort of home, solving a huge need of remote access healthcare.
Of course, in India, there will be challenges for this, the biggest one being connectivity but let us hope, soon!
L Ashok of Futurenet Technologies( India) Pvt Ltd, channel partner for IT products in healthcare industry products feels, “Clinical System including PAX, Laboratory information system (LIMS), Tele medicine, Mobility and Analytic are the major areas where ICT are increasing getting traction in the healthcare industry.”
Realizing the growing market for healthcare technologies, most of the bigger technology brands are active in the space now – IBM, Oracle, CISCO, SAP, all leading IT brands have offerings in this area.