What Should Doctors and Clinics Look for When Making Technology Choices?

The obvious advantages of technology adoption have made it an integral part of the fabric of businesses today. There is hardly any business that is untouched by technology and in order to stay ahead of the curve, all businesses today are making sure that their information systems evolve and grow at the same pace as the technological advancements.

The healthcare industry, too, has extensively adopted technology to streamline processes, increase efficiencies and productivity, and improve patient care and healthcare outcomes. By 2022, we can expect the global healthcare information systems market to technology market to grow to approximately 60.00 billion from approximately USD 41.20 billion in 2016. These are compelling figures that show that technology adoption in the healthcare segment in on a healthy incremental growth.

Having said this, it is not just large hospitals that can leverage technology for its benefits. Small practices too can reap the same benefits from technology. However, when making a technology choice there are some parameters that should be considered to ensure that the technology helps in improving costs and efficiencies along with patient outcomes. The technology solution should be a comprehensive product that not only helps in clinic management but can provide integrated healthcare experiences. In this blog, we take a look at a few parameters that doctors must look for when making technology choices to give their practice the technological edge.

Usability

Great usability forms the crux of any good information system. When selecting an information system for their practice, doctors, thus, should ensure that the system has easy to use user interfaces, allows easy data entry with minimal typing, facilitates easy data exchange etc. and ensure that the software that they purchase facilitates high performance. It should have an intuitive user interface and should ensure easy navigation of the system.

Implementation

Which technology solution are you most likely to use – one that is available in a ready to use, plug-and-play format or one that demands a huge time investment to achieve the same result? When choosing a technology solution for a practice, it is best to choose one that provides comprehensive features but comes in an easy to use, plug-and-play format and does not have a steep learning curve. Considering doctors and their administrative staff both are extremely busy, purchasing a technology solution that is complex, has a steep learning curve and takes a long time to implement will only impede the use of the solution and leave it as an overhead cost.

Comprehensive Solution

Good things come in small packages. However, today the package has to be small and yet has to be comprehensive. Doctors do not have the time to invest in making different technology choices for different functionalities and hence demand a solution that is comprehensive and fully-functional and at the same time. A technology solution should, thus, connect the entire practice ecosystem on one common platform. From patient management, practice management, finance management to data analytics, the solution should connect all the dots easily and demand minimal effort from its users to ensure that the doctors can focus on their most important area – their patients. Many a times technology implementations in clinics fail mainly because the doctors do not receive a comprehensive solution and have to make multiple technology purchases to meet their requirements.

Mobility

Today, if a technology solution does not provide mobility then it is most likely to fail. Since doctors are always on the move, they need to make sure that the solution in use gives them the mobility advantage so that they can be productive even when they are on the go. Thus, the solution should be accessible on the mobile and should allow them to make iterations from the phone itself. For example, if a doctor wants to access a patient’s health record, or upload patient history or share test results etc. they should be able to do so from their handheld device irrespective of their location.

Scalability

If a technology solution does not offer scalability then it is most likely to fail its purpose. Having a cloud-based solution that can handle multiple loads and increase its capacity and facilitate the addition of additional features according to the needs of a practice become essential for successful implementation of a technology solution for any practice.

Patient integration

Patients today are the consumers of healthcare. The technology choice, thus, should provide an integrated platform where they can store their health records, test results, health history, provide prescription management etc. and allow them to access these anytime, anywhere so that the patients can get proactively involved in their own health management.

Along with the above, the technology should take into account how its users are going to utilise the solution. The solution provider should talk to the users and assess their usability demands and then make iterations to the solution and provide customisation options to suit the needs of the customers to ensure that the solution meets the user demands. The product should provide an interoperable structure, understand the clinical goals and increase cost efficiencies in order to benefit the practice by increasing productivity and ensuring that the key priorities of the practice are met at all times.

Healthy Snacks for Workplace

Did you have your breakfast today? Look over from your desk and ask your colleague. More often than not, 34% people today come to work on an empty stomach. Between the long commute, late dinners, and the absurd working hours, where is the time to sit down and have proper meals? This is not the only reason, but having a mid-morning snack and one in the middle of the afternoon is crucial.

If you want to keep up with your productivity levels, you need to eat healthy. However only a few will go for healthy snacks. If you have bad eating habits, you would reach for that deep fried samosa with your cutting chai or snack on high processed chips to satisfy your craving. During those mid-morning or afternoon slumps, you need a high protein snack to get your energy levels up and to help you focus better. Here is a fantastic list of healthy snacks for your workplace.

Fresh Fruit

An apple a day, remember? Fresh fruits like banana, pear, grapes or seasonal fruits like mango, litchis, and strawberries are all packed with fiber, healthy carbs and are incredibly filling.

Dried Fruits

Dried apricots, dried mango, apple, pear or even banana are unsweetened, easy to munch on and are nutrient packed. You need a significant amount of calories from these healthy snacks for the workplace if you missed your breakfast or lunch.

Roasted/Raw Nuts

Nuts like almonds, cashews, hazelnuts are protein rich and have the good fat in them. If you need something to keep you full until your next big meal at the office, it’s these low carb nuts.

Energy Bar

Snickers came out with a great advertisement, but seriously, protein energy bars are not just for those who work out at the gym. Get your sweet craving and nutrient balance from an energy bar.

Flavored Yogurt

There are plenty to chose from in the market, but if you are health conscious, then make Greek yogurt from your regular curd (hand it in a cloth so all the water seeps out) sprinkle fresh fruit or nuts for a yummy and satisfying healthy snack at the office.

Fresh Veggies

Take carrots, beetroot, cucumber, red and yellow bell peppers, these are excellent snacks to eat at your workplace. Energy, fiber, nutrition, these fresh veggies tick all the boxes.

Vegetable Juice

If you are too lazy to cut them up and bring to work, consider juicing fresh vegetables. You may not get as much fiber, but it’s perfect to wake you up from that mid-afternoon slump.

Dark Chocolate

No, not your regular milk chocolate bars, but dark chocolate. The high amount of antioxidants makes it healthy to snack on. The keyword here is a snack – so don’t gobble the whole bar just because chocolate boosts your mood and makes you happy.

Protein Shake

Whether it’s with fresh or frozen banana, with protein powder or without, protein shakes are great sources of quick energy. Just what you need to focus on for your tasks after 3 pm.

Green Smoothie

Blend your favorite fruits into a smoothie and throw in some baby spinach to optimize your gut health.

Goji Berries

Did you know they dip goji berries in dark chocolate now? These are great sources of antioxidants, energy, protein, and fiber.

Seeds

Combine your dark chocolate or fresh fruit with a fist full of seeds like roasted sunflower seeds, watermelon seeds or pumpkin seeds. They are high fiber, add texture and keep you fueled until your next big meal.

Popcorn

No, not the microwave ones but the right ones are great to mindlessly munch on while you work on your deadline. Its fiber rich and calorie poor, perfect for a mid-afternoon healthy snack.

Murmura

This is puffed rice. You can eat them as it is or mix it up with tomatoes, onions and fresh chutneys to make bhel. Lightweight, easy to digest and ideal for weight conscious people.

Sprouts

When nuts, seeds, grains, dals or lentils are allowed to sprout, the nutritional value of the protein in them is enhanced. Even the vitamins explode; your energy levels increase and all this at a fraction of the price compared to any other snack option.

Roasted lentils

Your roasted chana dal is a rich source of protein and minerals. Snacking on a good amount either mid morning or mid afternoon will keep you full for a long time.

Eating healthy snacks at workplace will keep you full, energized and help you focus during the times when you need it the most. Snacks rich in protein and fiber keep you satisfied until your next big meal. What a great way to get in all the essential daily nutrients –  in a snack!

 

 

 

 

 

Alzheimer’s and Dementia Are Not the Same

Do you get confused when people use these terms? Alzheimer’s and Dementia are interchangeably used so much these days that one can easy mistaken it to have the same meaning. Well, it’s not. While one may form a part of the other, but Alzheimer’s and Dementia are not the same. Here’s an analogy to help to understand and decipher the difference between the two medical terms.

A quick analogy for illustration

Say one day you cough and sneeze a lot but you are unsure why. Since it’s summer you don’t have a cold. So you go to the doctor for a checkup. The doctor checks your breathing and orders a series of tests to help decide the cause. After the test results come in, the doctor is sure what is causing the sneezes. The diagnosis is that you have developed an allergy. It’s the summer and the most common allergy could be due to pollen in the air, etc.

Are you wondering where Alzheimer’s and Dementia come into play here? Well, perhaps you want to read the illustration again because the allergy is the diagnosis – which is dementia. A cough and sneeze are symptoms like memory loss and we’ll talk more about it in a just a bit. The pollen or one cause for dementia is the Alzheimer’s disease. Go ahead, read the analogy again to get a fair idea.

Why it’s important to know the difference

Dementia impacts memory, performance to do things, and communication. Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease that affects memory and language and gets worse with time. The symptoms, causes and the effects of both Alzheimer’s and Dementia are different. It’s important that you know the difference for management and treatment of the two degenerative diseases. Let’s get to know them one by one.

Dementia is the umbrella term

First, dementia is a syndrome which is a bunch of symptoms. Dementia affects the brain and attacks memory and reasoning of the individual. It is an umbrella under which the Alzheimer’s disease falls. Alzheimer’s is one of the most common causes for the development of dementia. Not the other way around.

There are many types of dementia because it may stem from different causes. No matter the cause, as dementia progresses, it becomes increasingly difficult for an individual to function independently. Although young people can develop dementia, it’s one of the biggest concerns for the elderly. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are over 47 million people affected by dementia all over the world. and Indian houses close to 4.1 million of them. These numbers are expected to double every two decades.

What are the symptoms and causes of dementia?

It is hard to know the symptoms at first because they are not easily seen. You forget where you put the keys or if you have turned off the gas or to switch off the geyser. It starts with simple forgetfulness that seems like an everyday thing. Those having dementia seem to lose track of time.

With time, as the forgetfulness increases so does confusion. People struggle with remembering names and connect faces and eventually, show obvious signs when personal hygiene becomes a problem too. Some of the symptoms of dementia include:

  • Asking same questions repeatedly
  • Questionable hygiene
  • Poor skills for decision-making
  • Difficulty in recalling names and recognising faces
  • Depression
  • Aggression

 Dementia is more likely to occur with age and one of the leading causes if damaged brain cells which are caused by diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s. Around 70% of dementia is caused by Alzheimer’s. Other causes include HIV, stroke, depression or drugs.

Alzheimer’s Disease

There is no known cure for the Alzheimer’s disease and the exact cause it yet to be determined. This is a progressive disease wherein; the damaged cells in the brain impair memory and cognitive function. The symptoms of Alzheimer’s are seen after the age of 60 years, although even young people get it too. When it occurs in the elderly, it can be fatal almost within three years of the diagnoses. For young people, it may take longer.

While there is memory and cognitive loss even with the Alzheimer’s disease, just as in dementia, there are other symptoms, which include:

  • Struggle to recall events and conversations
  • Disorientation
  • Confusion
  • Struggle to speak, swallow and walking

Overlapping Treatments

Since dementia may have multiple causes such as chronic drug use, stroke, tumor metabolic or thyroid disorders, the treatment of these cases is likely to go well. These are reversible causes. However, irreversible dementia has not treatment to help stop it or cure it.

For Alzheimer’s there is no known treatment. But some antipsychotic medication, pills for memory, sleep, and depression may help the symptoms to be manageable. However, Alzheimer’s is a terminal illness. Depending on the age, the time to death may vary. Some young people live with Alzheimer’s for two decades, others older than 80 years may die within three years of diagnoses.

If you are not sure about the symptoms you or your loved ones may have, speak to your doctor. Getting on the right treatment plan will help you manage the symptoms better.

 

How Doctors in Rural Area Can Use Technology

India’s healthcare system, much like the healthcare systems across the globe, is witnessing an overhaul. Increased use of technology and greater digitisation efforts are being taken to make our healthcare system more organised, efficient and effective. While this holds true for the urban areas of the country, India still has a very large rural population that still is wanting basic healthcare facilities and hardly has access to good doctors. Given the pace at which urbanisation is increasing, it is almost dismal to know that even today, when India is helmed as one of the fastest growing nations and produces some of the greatest intellectual capital across the globe, the World Health Organization’s ‘2000 World Health Report’ ranks India’s healthcare system at 112 out of the 190 participating countries.

What is abundantly clear is that it is this rural segment that can benefit the most from the Digital India initiative as it aims to connect rural India with the rest of the country through the network of high-speed Internet. The Digital India initiative also aims to increase digital literacy and plans to connect all the villages across the length and breadth of the country through mobile networks by the end of 2018. To put it in numbers, by 2018, if everything goes as per schedule, then 44,000 villages who are currently cut off completely from all technological developments, will also be able to reap the benefits of the technology and digitisation.

Presently, the rural healthcare infrastructure suffers from a dearth of qualified doctors, inadequate medical facilities, insufficient specialised care, non-access to basic medications. With 60%, that is almost 700 million people, facing this grim healthcare situation, it is high time that technology is leveraged efficiently to close this widening healthcare gap. Without getting into the details of the nuances of the public healthcare system and its areas of improvement, let us, simply take a look at how doctors in rural areas can leverage technology and improve patient outcomes.

Telehealth

According to the World Health Organization, the stipulated doctor to patient ratio should be at 1: 1000. In India, this stands at 1:1700. Along with this, there are approximately are 6-6.5 lakh doctors working currently in the country. By 2020, this number needs to increase by 4 lakh more to balance out the doctor –patient disparity. Most of the rural population has to travel an approximate 20 kilometres to access good doctors. Greater adoption of mobile and better internet connectivity in villages can shorten these distances leveraging telemedicine facilities. Multi-specialty hospitals such as Medanta have operational telemedicine services to help healthcare accessible to all irrespective of their geographical location. Individual doctors too can leverage mHealth and telemedicine to reach out to a large rural population. The patients can consult with specialists when the need arises using telemedicine.

EHR

Personalised care, too, should not be a luxury afforded only by the urban population. Doctors in rural areas can also offer personalised care by leveraging EHR systems to increase their efficiency and quality of care, record and store valuable data and manage critical healthcare information. Using technology, doctors can make sure that they can access this data anytime and anywhere. This can help greatly in disease management, sending timely reminders to the patients for health checks or medications and also for conducting health assessment and research. It can also help rural doctors eliminate dubious healthcare practices by educating the rural population about good healthcare practices and give them the ability to understand when they need to seek medical help.

Big Data

Rural India is a goldmine for clinical data. Leveraging big data and data analytics, doctors can look at identifying triggers and causes for poor health. For example, India has one of the highest rates of maternal and neonatal death. By looking at these data patterns, doctors can identify the causes leading to this and then can push for addressing these issues. Lack of qualified doctors, inadequate nutrition of expecting mothers, poor hospitals which are lacking even in basic infrastructure, lack of medications etc. are just some of the points that have been identified as the cause of maternal deaths in India based on the data story. Clearly, digging deeper into the data will provide greater insights and help in identifying risk factors, both social and environmental, and help in improving clinical outcomes.

Mobility

In India, several healthcare organizations have started using mobile phones and IVR services to educate the expectant mothers about the care they need to take and make them aware of the best practices in sanitation. Medical helplines allow patients to ask questions to medical experts and get the answers. With a severe shortage of doctors in rural areas, many times, health care workers attend to patients. These health care workers can access important health related information through national healthcare portals and help the patients.

Doctors in rural India can further leverage technologies such as remote diagnostics, HIS, healthcare informatics and EHR etc, to bridge the gap that divides rural and urban healthcare and help a very large piece of the population access improved, cost-effective, and affordable healthcare. Looking at the rate at which digitisation is increasing in India, we can surely say that with the right use and adoption of technology, the rural healthcare system will definitely take a turn for the better and make a million lives better.

The Biggest Weight Loss Myths You Need to Stop Believing Today

We now live in such modern times that you can’t help but be obsessed with weight loss. It’s hard to avoid new and interesting notions because you would try anything to lose those extra kilos, no? Every day there is a new super diet or a super food, pills or green drinks that promise to help tackle your weight loss woes. If you want to stay fit and healthy while losing weight, then you need to stop believing these biggest weight loss myths right away.

Myth: Skipping meals is the best way to lose weight.

Many, many people skip their meals and think that this is the best way to lose weight. This is incorrect beyond your wildest measures. Starving not only makes you weak, but it also increases your cravings for high-calorie food.

Myth: Drinking many litres of water helps in weight loss.

Sometimes, it’s great to drink water instead of reaching for that bag of salty chips or sweet sugary processed biscuits. Drinking water to fill your stomach so you would eat less will again make you cranky, nutrient-poor, and crave for foods that are high-fat, high sugar. This is not so good for weight loss.

Myth: Exercise daily for an hour to lose weight.

Everyone has a different body. Some people think doing high-intensity exercises and eating less during the day will help them lose weight. This is not true. Truth is, you need to make up for all the times you are sitting down by moving your body in the day. Different workouts suit different people.

Myth: The more hours you do the workout, the more you’ll lose the weight.

No! Exercising too much will make you fatter. This is because the more calories you burn, the hungrier it makes you. There is exhaustion leading to hormonal exhaustion and that increases your body’s tendency to store fat.

Myth: I go to the gym so I can eat that.

When you go to the gym, the exercise and fitness routines help you justify the food you are already eating. If you think you can eat extra or eat “bad food” and then go to the gym, it will not make a difference. In fact, it will take you longer to lose those extra kilos you put on for letting yourself go last weekend.

Myth: Only white sugar is the bad sugar.

Whether it’s white sugar or brown sugar, all sugars have the same makeup source, that is glucose, fructose, sucrose or a combination. You need a little sugar which you can get from fruits or good food items like sweet yogurt which also has calcium and protein. So make sure you control the servings of pastries and soft drinks to reduce the intake of sugar.

Myth: Artificial sweeteners help weight loss.

You’ll find these in diet soda drinks, energy drinks, sugar-free chewing gum. Artificial sweeteners are loaded with fake sugars. These are addictive and that’s why you keep consuming these products. Artificial sweeteners disturb your metabolism, your appetite and cause weight gain.

Myth: I can pop “pills” or “drink this” to lose weight easily.

This is one of the most cynical myths, they are not safe for you at all. We are talking about the unlicensed, unpatented, unprescribed pills in the market. These products have harmful chemicals that are terrible for you. Consult a certified doctor before you indulge in quick-fixes as these.

Myth: Low-fat food is great for losing weight and keeping it off.

That low-fat food is heaped with sugar! When your body can’t process excess sugar, it stores it back in your body as fat. You need good fat, essential fatty acids, for example from dry fruits like almond, coconut oil, etc. for proper cell growth, glowing skin and even to lose excess weight!

Myth: Snacking between the meals is bad for you.

For your blood sugar to stay normal, you need food in your body every 3-4 hours. When the blood sugar is normal, you won’t get unwanted sugar or salt cravings. If your body thinks it’s deprived of sugar or salt to stabilize the blood sugar, then it will go into survival mode and make you reach for that cupcake or chips.

Myth: Eating certain foods will help me lose weight.

Some people believe eating chilies will help you lose weight. Although some calories are burnt while digesting chillies, the calories lost is very insignificant. If you want to improve your metabolism, it’s better for you to workout instead.

Myth: It is better to lose weight slowly.

Some people assume that if you lose weight quickly, you will gain it back at the same rate too. That’s why most keep away from programs that help you lose quickly. It is not entirely true if you loose that weight through a structured program and a good balance of food and exercise. Research shows that those who lose a lot of weight in a short time, reach their weight loss goals quickly and that motivates them to stay that way.

Myth: Don’t eat carbs after lunch.

Ideally, eating fewer carbs at night will reduce calorie intake and increase your metabolism which helps you lose weight. Avoiding carbs completely reduces your metabolism which will make it harder for you to lose weight. Weight loss is not about carbs, it’s about how active you are and how many calories you burn each day.