By Umesh Isalkar
Pune: Software technology-driven tools such as electronic health records, mHealth, telemedicine and web-based diagnostic services are fast proving to be a game changer in the healthcare sector.
An increasing number of healthcare institutions and the growing requirement for modernising healthcare, experts say, have made it even more important to implement a robust IT system by the Indian healthcare industry to make treatment accessible and affordable.
“With more than 150 companies in India offering products and services, healthcare IT is seeing rapid growth. Pune being a IT hub houses more such companies, and this has helped the scenario change in the last few years,” said public healthcare expert Rajiv Yeravdekar, dean, Faculty of Health and Biological Sciences, Symbiosis International University (SIU).
With the surge in healthcare apps, accessibility and availability of information has also become easy, and the situation is only expected to advance.
“The entire industry has become patient driven. The offerings include patient management solution, hospital information system for clinical and supportive departments as well as for administration. Healthcare predictive analytics and cloud computing solutions are likely to grow rapidly,” Yeravdekar said.
The advantages that come with the adoption of IT are reduced cost to the hospital and also to patients over a period of time. It also helps in cutting down fraud, better care coordination, easy accessibility of records and, ultimately, improved patient care and wellness.
Effective use of Electronic Health Records (EHRs) applications by Symbiosis Centre of Health Care (SCHC) for 30,000 students and employees has resulted in efficient data management and information dissemination without errors and delay during hospitalisation.
Besides private hospitals, public healthcare systems have also started adopting healthcare IT in improving patient care. However, there are challenges that need to be overcome.
“Senior people working in government health departments do not even see emails. Most of the reporting mechanisms in public health are based on submitting paper-based records that are kept in files, sending emails that are not read or filling excel sheets that are of no use for long-term activities,” said public health expert and paediatrician Rajeev Joshi, chairman of eCommunication Cell, Indian Medical Association, Pune chapter.
Private sector, which treats 75%-80% patients, has nothing to do with public health, except for reporting cases.
“Use of information technology in healthcare is dismal. Use of geographical information systems to tract diseases is practically unknown to many,” Joshi said.