By Dr Vikram Venkateswaran
In 2021 global research indicated that 85% of the respondents were comfortable taking care of their health provided they had the right information and technology applications available to them. This is indeed an interesting scenario and never before has the power of data and technology combined to create the empowered patient and consumer.
In April of 2021 a woman in Michigan, USA had just climbed a flight of stairs and to her surprise found her heart rate at 162. This was indicated by the Apple Watch on her wrist. Unsure how to translate the data, she called her husband at work to share her finding. He immediately advised her to rush to the hospital to get it checked. Luckily for her, she did just that and found out that her abnormal heart rate was a precursor to a heart attack. Doctors intervened in time and stabilized her, pulling her out of harm's reach.
In 2021 global research indicated that 85% of the respondents were comfortable taking care of their health provided they had the right information and technology applications available to them. This is indeed an interesting scenario and never before has the power of data and technology combined to create the empowered patient and consumer. Today not only do we have access to health information from reliable sources but also, we have the necessary tools and applications available to us in our smart phones and connected devices.
The current Covid 19 pandemic has further accelerated this growth in digital adoption in healthcare with the focus being permanently on patient experience. If government initiatives like Arogya Setu application gave up to date information on the state of the pandemic and the actions one needs to take to prevent them, applications like COWIN helped manage probably one of the largest vaccination roll outs in the country, complete with the digital certificate that was directly delivered to the patient’s phone and email id.
Many private healthcare organizations have started working on the same principles. Apollo Hospitals for example had a telemedicine platform and a health application even before the pandemic and were in the right place and position to leverage that not only to improve patient experience but also to enhance the interactions with the patients during the course of the treatment. Cloud Nine Hospitals have more than 90% of their appointments fixed through the mobile application and also went on to develop their own telemedicine platform for consultation.
On the consumer side, organizations like CureFit have a huge volume of data about their users. Right from the workout schedule, key indicators like Body Mass Index, food deliveries of nutrition and diet made by users and online consultations that they provide on their platform. This is one of the first instances where we see an aggregation of data for health parameters of users. So, we see a change in paradigm where digital data of the user is available to all for use. Recently I worked with a healthcare startup Fimble Fits to analyse my sleep pattern and see its impact on my health. The pilot is still on but already some of the preliminary results are very interesting.
What we have understand for the future of healthcare in India is that there is a convergence of 3 key elements
1. Expertise- Provided by Hospitals, Medical Devices, Pharma, Doctors, Nurses, Nutritionist, Fitness Instructors etc.
2. Technology- Cloud, Mobile, APIs, Machine Learning and AI among others
3. Data – Structured data in the form of EMR/HIS records, Unstructured data from fitness apps and derived data from elements like weather that impact health
All these three will give rise to the experience that would help most common users in India to take care of their health. This will not only reduce the burden on our healthcare infrastructure but also reduce the cost of care which is currently borne by the patient and patient party.
Another aspect that needs to be considered is Patient journey mapping, an exercise that healthcare experts at hospitals and other healthcare organizations can use to better understand what individuals experience throughout the entire patient journey. The patient journey map, which outlines all of the patient touch points during each stage of the care journey, aids in creating strategic outreach that improves both patient engagement and satisfaction.
The final piece of this future state is the Health ID. Under the Ayushman Bharat Health Mission, it is proposed to have a unique Health ID per citizen which will help us create longitudinal data for the user. This will create a common infrastructure that can help all users to collate their data and in an interoperable manner share it with the hospitals and doctors as necessary.
In conclusion we have come a long way and the innovation in patient centric healthcare has led to a sea change in the healthcare industry. My opinion is that there will be a massive change as we go down this path and we are seeing the beginning of one of the most exciting times in healthcare in India where the patient is right at the center of this change.
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