Interviews

Increasing mHealth reach and efficiency – Dr Ruchi Dass, HealthCursor

dR-RUCHI-DASS

Says, Founder and CEO, Dr Ruchi Dass, HealthCursor, in an interaction with Ekta Srivastava, Health Technology…

Please share with us the journey of Health Cursor, till date?

HealthCursor was established in the year 2009 with the purpose to fathom out opportunities in the field of affordable healthcare through the use of new ideas, technologies and processes. By 2011, HealthCursor joined the founding member team of mHealth Alliance- the largest mHealth alliance in the world funded by United Nations. We got opportunities to create a consulting platform that brought global leaders together to brainstorm and co-create. Today we have done more than 200+ projects across 19 countries and worked across the length and breadth of Healthcare spectrum. Our Health Informatics, Big Data Analytics, Medical Technology and Delivery systems teams bring diverse and deep experience to every healthcare engagement.

How do you see Indian Healthcare Industry today and in next five years?

The Healthcare industry across the world have decided to go digital. What that means is to get rid of redundant systems and move towards interoperability, communication and collaboration. Such sustained efforts will create enormous data which will help analyze all aspects of healthcare and will help innovations become more directed and value-based.

Do you think that Indian healthcare is ready to get SMAC-ed?

SMAC is bridging the gap between healthcare providers and healthcare consumers. There is a growing interest in using SMAC technologies as it aids better relationships with customers. Accessible digital healthcare processes and records will make new online experiences for patients, doctors, and insurance companies. If one aims to transform healthcare and make it more agile, cost effective and value driven SMAC is the way to go.This is something which lies at the core of HealthCursor. Healthcare need to go social, paperless, ubiquitous and analytics driven.

Indian Healthcare is not ready for this today. But the confluence of technology and healthcare will soon create ways to get there and reap its full potential. Here are some quick ways to get there:

  • Create an e-health file- A repository where every healthcare stakeholder need to upload, share healthcare data.
  • Launch Insurance coverage for Preventive care and incentives for early intervention.
  • Provide opportunities for Healthcare analytics companies to use data for R&D and provide insights.
  • Launch quality surveillance with benchmarks to quantify value and cost.
  • Establish a body at the center to study and publish the financial impact of improved health and reduced demand for healthcare services.

Addressing these challenges starts with understanding the basic concept that insurance is about pooling for shared risk, and that wellness is about reducing risk through improving the health of the covered population.

What are the major trends that you have witnessed in mHealth recently?

mHealth has started to bring stakeholders together. The world is now moving towards “Patient engagement” and “care coordination”.Kaiser Permanente found that patients are 2.6 times more likely to stay with their in-network physician if they are able to exchange messages with the physician using Kaiser’s KP.org site.Patient care programs enable pharmaceutical companies to engage in a variety of ways: track the interactions, track responses, and capture the data for analysis to help improve any processes or develop optimal communications. However, it’s the data that is collected through these interactions that enables pharmaceutical companies to really hone in on what needs to be done to overcome barriers to engagement and adherence.

What are the major challenges in initiating these trends?

Assessment of m-health should include awareness of practical issues, such as sustainability. Real-world challenges greatly influence the ability of programs to survive and grow.45 Issues include participating organizations, technical capacity, and financing. The WHO and other organizations should develop guidance on best m-health practices and support countries’ implementation efforts. Recently, PMNCH ICT Readiness committee came up with a planning workshop where guidance is provided on the different steps that are required to understand the feasibility of using ICTs.

Every country has different needs and readiness levels for the use of ICTs. Thus, the conveners of the MSD (multi-stakeholder dialogue) on ICTs will need to assess how they can use the guidance, best practices and evidence well in a specific situation.

How can technology drive change in national healthcare systems?

Applying a health systems lens to the evaluation of mHealth initiatives requires different indicators and methodologies, shifting the assessment from whether the mHealth initiative “works” to process evaluation or proxy indicators of the health outcome(s) of interest. This new way of thinking would facilitate selection of mHealth tools that are appropriate for identified challenges. In other words, it would drive people to first identify the key obstacles, or constraints, to delivering proven health interventions effectively, and to then apply appropriate mHealth strategies that could overcome these health system constraints

Hence, rather than being perceived as siloed, stand-alone solutions, mHealth strategies should be viewed as integrable systems that should fit into existing health system functions and complement the health system goals of: health service provision; a well-performing health workforce; a functioning health information system; cost-effective use of medical products, vaccines, and technologies; and accountability and governance. The harmonization of existing programs and services is critical to the success of a national mHealth system of this nature. The national scale-up seeks to build upon the success of existing messaging systems by combining efforts and data toward an integrated and efficient system.

How successful are the implementations of technology in healthcare systems?

One of the biggest challenges facing societies worldwide is how to make high-quality healthcare affordable and accessible for all. Governments, individuals and private insurers worldwide are urgently seeking more cost-effective ways of preventing and treating chronic diseases and other debilitating conditions. The widespread use of mobile connectivity in healthcare could significantly cut costs, increase the reach and accessibility of healthcare services and reduce the impact of illness on people’s lives.

mHealth can increase the reach and efficiency of health care by:

Empowering the patients:  Approximately 30 percent of smartphone users are likely to use wellness apps by 2015. Smartphones can also be used as a tool for patients to manage appointments, renew prescriptions or view medical records.

Addressing Capacity Requirement: Remotely monitoring hospital patients or the elderly can free up much needed capacity in hospitals and nursing homes.

Reducing cost of care: mHealth also has the potential to reduce the per capita cost of healthcare, while simultaneously maintaining or improving quality of care.

Vigorous expansion of m-health may also have a non-health benefit: fostering local economic development beyond health care. Although technological advances in hardware often occur in developed countries, advances in software are more widespread.

What benefits can a consumer reap out of technology driven healthcare?

For the rural India it helps build access- access to basic primary healthcare which is quite a challenge in a country like India where Doctor to Patient ratio is pretty skewed. From locating providers to reviewing health benefits to enhancing health and wellness efforts- mobile health solutions help in all of that.In chronic patients, mHealth encourages continual compliance with pharmacy regimens, including reminders, side-effect management, and appropriate use instructions.mHealth keeps the dialogue live by sending targeted messages to consumers to promote key behaviors. It uses messages to solicit data and/or actions from consumers (e.g., collect biometrics, acknowledge medication receipt).In a nutshell, mHealth makes health more collaborative than just a Doctor’s responsibility.

 What will be the existing opportunities in implementation of technology in healthcare?

Healthcare providers today are equipped with better medical devices to perform their functions effectively and efficiently which was not the case until a few years ago. With the convergence of breakthroughs in science and technology, the pace of medical invention has fastened, inspiring better clinical outcomes with less invasive procedures and shorter recovery times, creating tremendous value. Five years back, technology was related to medical precision and lab tests. Now people are moving to better and efficient systems, more productivity and there is budget allocated for mobile technology enterprises, innovations and there is a lot more to come to revolutionize the healthcare space today.It is the right of every person in the country to have access to quality healthcare and technology can be a great facilitator of that. The convergence of healthcare with upcoming trends such as cloud computing and wireless technologies, will play a key role in improving accessibility and meeting the challenge of manpower shortage.

 

 

 

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