Guest Columns

IT in Healthcare (Part 1)

Conceiving life in laboratory to discovering apps that can track patient’s health in real time, the healthcare industry has witnessed some profound transformations over the years. The introduction of modern technologies has changed the outlook of medical facilities currently available in the country. Information technology is giving a more definitive shape to patient care. It has had a significant influence on the field of diagnosis, investigations, treatment, documentation, retrieval of information, medical instrumentation, teaching, research etc. Today, information technology has become an integral part of efficient healthcare.

Technology has always been considered as a valuable resource in improving the reach of healthcare services, but the pace of adopting technology has been slower in the sector in comparison to other industries. Now, its relevance has become even more prominent in bridging the loopholes in patient centric care, enabling personalized medicine, increasing labour and contributing to better outcomes. Healthcare consumers, providers and even payers are embracing the rapid innovations in technology to access better health services.

IT and Healthcare

Dr Praveen Venkatagiri, Consultant Neonatologist, OVUM Hospital, Bengaluru.

The Indian healthcare sector is moving towards creating awareness about medical conditions through technology. Through introduction of electronic health records hospitals are trying to improve patient education and are enabling patients easy access to healthcare records. The main purpose of adopting modern technologies in medicine is to improve the quality of life. Innovative medical technologies like minimally-invasive surgeries, better monitoring systems, and more comfortable scanning equipment is improving the recovery rates, allowing patients to recuperate faster. In the long run, more intensive investments will be made on building IT infrastructure with increased use of telemedicine and e-prescriptions in the healthcare domain.

Healthcare industry has moved towards an age of convenience and efficiency with the adaption of technologies such as iPads and mobile apps. Even physicians have begun to use iPad to take notes and store medical records electronically. This is much required to efficiently manage the large volumes of medical information that otherwise needs great deal of effort and resources. The paradigm shift towards becoming tech-savvy has paved way for branch of “health informatics” which combines healthcare, information technology and business in balanced proportions.

The biggest impact of implementing information technology systems in healthcare will be the addressal of existing inefficiencies in administration procedures of hospitals. At present, there are quite a few drawbacks in hospital infrastructure and manpower. The integration of IT will help in the development of innovative and efficient healthcare infrastructure required to cater to rural and urban population. IT solutions will enable to organize existing resources on the basis of priority. It will enhance patient centric care by improving asset optimization, organizing easy appointments, enabling better communication between doctor and patient, assessing lab results on mobiles along with prescription.

The invention of technologies such as telemedicine will bring quality healthcare services to every doorstep in India. Telemedicine is critical in remote diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of patients via videoconferencing on the Internet. This fast-emerging trend leverages IT for delivering care consulting.

The writer is Dr Praveen Venkatagiri, Consultant Neonatologist, OVUM Hospital, Bengaluru and Head of NCRI Neonatal Network.

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