Digital Healthcare: India’s Response to the Global Pandemic

Digital healthcare comes as a rescue for there is a shortage of 600,000 doctors and 2 million nurses in India while the number of active COVID-19 cases is wildly increasing. At this point, enabling technology in this sector could take services to far and wide places of the country to overall transform the system.

The novel coronavirus pandemic has changed the way healthcare operates. It has made social distancing in care provision possible in the face of adverse situations. Today, doctors and patients are willingly adopting telehealth services by moving medical consultations to homes rather than hospitals and clinics. Digital healthcare comes as a rescue for there is a shortage of 600,000 doctors and 2 million nurses in India while the number of active COVID-19 cases is wildly increasing. At this point, enabling technology in this sector could take services to far and wide places of the country to overall transform the system.

On March 25, 2020, the ministry of health and family welfare (MoHFW), in collaboration with NITI Aayog and Board of Governors (BoG) Medical Council of India (MCI) announced telemedicine guidelines empowering medical practitioners to compose solutions dependent on phone discussions that diminish the spread of the virus among patients. It likewise avoids the inconvenience caused to families and medical caregivers. Virtual visits empowered by telemedicine demonstrate compelling and supportive in deciding who should be treated for COVID-19. For cutting-edge medical practitioners, Telemedicine is principally an approach to perform COVID-19 and other pandemic screenings in the future.

Considering the effectiveness of telemedicine, some of the private sector medical providers such as Narayana Hrudayalaya, Apollo Telemedicine Enterprises, Asia Heart Foundation, and Escorts Heart Institute, have incorporated digital healthcare facilities to connect with the patients.

As the COVID-19 virus puts India in the top 5 countries with the highest number of cases, digital healthcare has become the need of the hour in giving doctors an opportunity to continue taking care of their patients.  However, healthcare in the long run must not be restricted to telemedicine alone. As virtual and locally established healthcare facilities (and even remote, carefully empowered clinics) become progressively common, there will arise a need for more advanced analytic and testing system that can empower this move, and clinically advanced tools to fill the gap.

Here’s how a holistic approach towards digital healthcare could bridge the gap between the present and the future of India’s healthcare sector:

Digital Healthcare that Promotes Patient-Doctor Connectivity

Without heading out to a clinic or hospital, patients can have their symptoms evaluated via video call on their computers, tablets, or even mobile phones by a doctor and get prescribed medications and/or treatments. For those who cannot come for follow up appointments or for those who hate to wait for long past their booked appointment time, having the option to see their specialist in their homes regularly at a prearranged time could make a huge difference.

The services have been demonstrated to decrease costs for patients who must drive to far most areas, take off from work, or resort to childcare facilities while visiting their doctors. It has likewise been noticed that related expenses have been reduced significantly by keeping patients away from the hospital.

Digital Healthcare that is Beyond Prescribing Medicine

There is a substantial increase in chronic health conditions among middle-aged citizens. Providing remote health care services and routine check-ups without having to visit the doctor is the only way doctors can help patients become more compliant towards medical advice and improve the outcome. Today, doctors can record patients’ regular health metrics from the comfort of their home; even for those with diabetes, heart or lung diseases, or other conditions. For such patients, there is a lifestyle change that is required. With the assistance of wearable gadgets and other body-worn sensors, medical professionals can get reports on their patients' wellbeing and propose lifestyle changes as and when they require. The reports then help doctors in maximizing care delivery, assessing each case, and improving correspondence by collecting, classifying, and utilizing information for better clinical analysis. Telehealth includes the absolute best performing applications and techniques which can help improve patient fulfillment. The wearable gadgets which track resting-pulse, sleep cycle, and temperature also help medical care providers make prompt and precise models of how infections spread in a closed community; in this manner, recognizing blueprint of initiation, advancement, and withdrawal of COVID-19 cases

Digital healthcare benefits patients with chronic diseases who require help from past general medicine.

Digital Healthcare that Boosts Efficient Patient Care in Remote Locations

It is intriguing how technology can be utilized to help both medical experts and the devices they work with. In a situation where there is high patient inflow, technology lets a doctor to provide medical expertise with the help of augmented reality applications and fix simpler cases remotely.

They can even expand their patient base past geographical boundaries, make the most of their working hours, and progressively help patients in remote locations. Digital healthcare services empower doctors to screen their patients, answer their queries, and make treatment proposals without asking them to come to the medical clinic or facility.

Live video chat and e-conference are two strategies regularly utilized by rural doctors to connect with more advanced and experienced doctors in the metro cities. Such consultations empower primary care suppliers to get continuous help from authorities, which expands their capacity to improve, analyze, and create proper treatment plans. Electronic consultation includes the utilization of online programs or shared electronic clinical records to provide quality care and lessen specialty care costs.

Digital Healthcare that can Control Chronic Illness

The effect of extending remote healthcare currently and in the future could be especially significant for patients with chronic health conditions. Healthcare facilities for these patients costs the most and they are also at higher risks of contracting the virus. Studies recommend telehealth and other remote care services might have the option to create cost investment funds for this section of the population by tending to issues before they progress and assisting in providing timely care. A collaborative care model is required where both public and private enterprises can cover the patient care expenses without any interruptions for the chronically ill.

Limiting physical proximity eliminates chances of virus spread, by letting clinicians to help the most critical patients on priority. It also controls the danger of virus transmission to chronically ill patients. We as a community need to secure those suffering from non-communicable diseases, including kidney, lung, or heart diseases, as they are at the highest risk of fatalities during this pandemic. Being at home will help in flattening the curve which will further reduce the number of infected patients in a locality. Those who have isolated themselves in their homes can utilize these services to test and send their information like temperature, pulse and if necessary, oxygen saturation levels to the doctors without having to visit clinics.

Digital Healthcare is the need of the hour

Innovation does not just apply to keeping patients out of the hospitals however it can be utilized to give a safer experience to those inside as well. Hospitals in India have been adjusting basic patient care limit, staffing and affordability as medical service requests rise. This has risen the demand for technologies like Smart ICU and Tele-ICU, which expect to drive technology, care prioritization and continuous consultations through the stored patient information from across the country. The development of these telehealth services in India might have been proposed to last just for as long as the global pandemic is surfacing. It's only when more doctors and medical practitioners will find the medical advantages, usability, feasibility of virtual care, there's a solid recommendation to be made that the course of action — appropriately scaled and overseen — could turn telehealth into a lifestyle.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house