Healthcare is being profoundly affected by advances in technology:
Healthcare is being profoundly affected by advances in technology, and service providers must keep pace to remain relevant in the 21st century. The scope of these technologies is universal, with adaptability for specific needs. For example, emerging countries have a higher burden of poverty and sanitation-induced diseases, while developed countries have challenges triggered by an aging population and lifestyle habits. Rising physician – patient ratios compound the issue. Technology can improve care continuity, enhance access, empower patients, personalize care, and also bridge the physician-patient gap.
Electronic Medical Record(EMR):
The first step towards improved care with access and continuity is digitization of patient records. Digitization, along with Cloud storage, eases access, leads to improved care coordination, referrals, and cross-consultation. Electronic records also facilitate care standardization and accountability. EMR along with Health Information Exchange (HIE) enables easy sharing of records in standardized format.
Telehealth & mHealth:
A dearth of Physicians, and their urban concentration,leaves rural citizens vulnerable. EMR with tele-health can help service providers reach the remotest corners thus making sure care is omnipresent.
Mobile penetration is high and increasing, and data rates have fallen. This facilitates use of smartphones for virtual consultation by patients, improving service response. Collaboration among physicians also becomes much more convenient.
Wearable Devices– Connected Health:
Wearable devices with sensorscan continuously monitor and record a person’s vitals, forming a Personal Health Record (PHR) that synchronizes with the EMR. Supported by Analytics, thishelps reduceemergency room visits (for instance,the device raises an alarm as soon as blood sugar is about to get critically low).Wearable devices can also directly benefit a service provider, like a surgeon using Google Glass for augmented view during surgery.
Health Analytics – for Health Insight:
Data, when processed with precise medical algorithms, can help risk stratification of an individual or population base and help governments design programs for the mass. For Life Sciences companies, analytics can help increase the efficacy of drugs by stimulation techniques, and fully leverage clinical trials.
Precision Medicine – via Advances inGenomics:
Biotechnology advances have made the cost of DNA sequencing fall 100,000x in a decade. This allows study of individual medical conditions in unprecedented detail, and mitigating risks much before problems can arise.
The integrated use of all these technologies forms the Data portrait of a person. Systems capture data at every stage of life, and enable continuous care, for both foreseeable and unpredictable events.
In addition, technology can automate several backend operations inside hospitals and clinics, such as recording patient information, managing supply chains, MIS, and more.
Technology is only a tool to ensure the fundamental goal of healthcare: a patient-centric ecosystem of care thatempowers patients to engage with their own health.Incentives of all providers must be aligned to enhance patient experience.Success comes from a customer-focused digital transformation that aligns internal organization, process and technology to enable it.
The writer is Sanjeev Gupta, Managing Director, Health and Public Services Accenture India and Dhiraj Sharma, Manager, Health and Public Service, Accenture India.