I was faced with an overwhelming 'yeah' when I went around asking people - 'Do you think technology must be leveraged to modernize healthcare?'. I also encountered a large number of 'What!?!' reactions to the question. After all, medical sciences have seen technology driven transformational changes in the last few decades. Technology advancements brought to us by the (related) fields of - Biophysics, Biotechnology, Bio-medical engineering, Biochemistry, Genetics, Pharmaceutics, Pharmacology, and more - have changed the course of medical protocols, treatments, and even medical practices.
Technology advancement has unfortunately widened the spectrum of healthcare services quality. While top-of-the-line hospitals have become world-class - in terms of equipment availability, and protocols followed - changes at the level of a vast majority of private clinics are still not tangible. The number of patients getting treated as out-patients at private clinics exceeds the number of in-patients at hospitals by several degrees of magnitude.
Statistics on the number of out-patient care-points in India varies significantly from source to source.
According to one estimate - India has approximately 30 to 35 thousand hospitals, between 60 to 65 thousand nursing homes, and over a million private clinics.
Every institution - public or private - is by-law required to maintain all the information and treatment details of in-patients. The out-patients get completely ignored, when it comes to medical records creation and maintenance.
Digital banking and digital payments have practically eliminated the need for us to visit banks. Computerization of Stock exchanges, introduction of DMAT accounts and the trading process took a lot of madness away. We have electronic access to monitor and control our financial assets. Today, we can file our tax returns, and even an RTI application electronically. Online education has become mainstream for kids and youth. Aadhar now provides digital identity to every citizen. But when it comes to our Health - 'our most precious asset' - we seem to be in a different world.
Do you think - both the Doctors and the patients - can engage more effectively, more productively - if they leverage technology?
(to be continued …)