Here Is What Doctors Need to Know About Machine Learning And Artificial Intelligence

Statistics show that today we are battling a global shortage of doctors. According to the World Health Organization, there is a global shortfall of over 4.3 million doctors and nursing staff across the world. This shortage of doctors might not be impacting the U.S that much but the country is plagued by increasing healthcare costs that limit the time that a patient can spend with a doctor. In countries such as India that has a huge rural population and some parts of Africa for example, there is a shortage of doctors and access to good medical services. Doctors too are feeling the brunt of these rising pressures and are now looking at avenues to improve their efficiencies to improve patient outcomes and have been open to technology adoption to facilitate the same.

One technology that is gaining prominence in the healthcare sector is Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. A study by Frost & Sullivan highlights that the AI market in healthcare is expected to grow to $6.6 billion by 2021 from USD 7,988.8 million in 2016. According to Accenture, the use of AI in healthcare can save the industry over $150 billion over the next decade. So what is it that makes AI and Machine Learning, computing systems that can complete designed tasks independently of human intervention using algorithms that can self-learn, so beneficial to the healthcare sector?

Faster Diagnostics

Machine Learning is not just beating up board game experts but is being used extensively to recognize disease symptoms in patients. Machine Learning and AI applications can scan through thousands of documents much faster than humans can. These applications are therefore perfect for running diagnostics for medical cases that demand record and diagnostic comparisons. Analysis of tests, X-Rays, CT scans, etc. can be done faster and more efficiently by AI and machine learning systems. For example, IBM’s supercomputer Watson established its credibility as Dr. Watson when it diagnosed the exact condition that was plaguing a leukemia patient by cross-referencing patient information with over 20 million oncology records. Watson not only came up with the right diagnosis but also did the same in a matter of minutes using the power of the computing system.

Preventive Medication

Doctors across the globe are leaning in heavily towards preventive medicine. AI and machine learning systems have been of great help in this area as the computing power of these systems can help assess which patients will need medical intervention when a patient or patients are likely to fall sick, common denominators causing recurring ailments in patients etc. Using these diagnostics, doctors can take a more preventive approach to medicine for better patient health and reduce hospital readmissions.

Good pre and post-operative care are essential to reduce the rate of readmissions in hospitals. But how can doctors ensure that their patients are taking the necessary precautions to ensure the same? AI systems come of great help here. AI applications can help in providing timely alerts pre and post operation regarding the care the patient should take. They can help in optimizing the doctor’s time and schedule by ensuring that the most pressing and urgent messages reach them first. Along with this, AI and machine learning applications also have the capability to assess the mental state of the patient and hence can be immensely helpful in mental health cases. Using this information, doctors can assess who will need medical intervention and also determine the timeframe for the same.

Robots in the OT

No, the robots are not replacing the doctors in the operating room but are being of immense assistance there. Repetitive and time-consuming tasks of the operating room such as making sutures can now be done with the help of robotic automation that helps in reducing surgery time. Along with this, you have the cognitive robots who are taking pre-operative medical information and integrating it with real-time operating metrics to increase the surgeon’s instrument precision. This also helps in improving patient safety as the more tedious and routine parts of the surgery are replaced with robots running on the power of AI and Machine Learning.

Telemedicine, Online Consultations and Virtual Nurses

Voice-powered AI applications are here to answer patients queries regarding their health. These applications help in better health management, chronic disease management, and long-term maintenance, and also assess patients for potential health risks. These AI applications called virtual nursing assistants are expected to become an industry staple and help the healthcare industry save more than $20 billion. These intelligent AI applications help in reducing the time taken during physician interactions as they provide answers to most of the patient queries. The time spent with the doctor thus becomes more productive and can be leveraged more effectively.

Machine learning and AI are also helping doctors in making telemedicine more efficient by aiding better diagnosis, enabling remote monitoring using machine learning, detecting rare genetic diseases, and solving logistical challenges by using predictive analytics.

AI and machine learning are here to act as the efficient doctor’s assistants. The aim of AI and machine learning, unlike what is written, is not to replace the doctors but to help them increase their efficiencies and replace the burden of mundane tasks from their shoulders so that they can focus on the human elements of patient care.

4 Ways Smartphones Can Help Patients and Doctors Save Valuable Time

The past couple of years have seen the monumental impact that the smartphone has had on our everyday lives. From banking to retail, to manufacturing…there is hardly an industry that has not been touched by the smartphone revolution. Healthcare is no different. The smartphone has made inroads into the healthcare segment to improve efficiencies and aid decision-making. Modern-day healthcare mobile apps, leveraging digital technologies, cloud computing, etc. are working towards upending every aspect of healthcare and place the doctor and the patient in the centre stage.

The smartphone revolution had also led to the consumerization of healthcare. Patients want to now take charge and be in control of their healthcare decisions, want more clarity regarding healthcare and demand value of their time. At the same time, physicians juggling multiple clinics and hospitals demand more control of their time.

In this blog, we take a look at a few ways smartphones can assists doctors and patients save valuable time.

Access to Complete Health Records

Physical documents are not only hard to manage but also prone to getting lost and can be difficult to organise. In most cases, healthcare history and health records are stored in fragments…some with a medical practitioner, some at a hospital or some at home, etc. In order to save time during a consultation, having access to the complete medical history saves both the physicians’ and the patients’ time. Mobile apps can be used to upload the patient’s complete health history, lab reports, test results, pathological reports, prescriptions, x-rays, etc. which can be securely accessed both by the doctor and the physician. No time is then lost rummaging for information since all of it is documented in an organised manner on the handy smartphone itself and can be accessed anytime, anywhere.

Clearer Communication

How many times have you, as a patient, gone and spent time waiting at a doctor’s clinic only to be told that you need to come back after conducting certain tests? Even doctors, who always are time constrained, have spent time with patients going through their records only to realise that they need to send the reports for a consult with someone else or need the patient to go for another round of tests.

The healthcare scenario is replete with such examples where better communication between the patient and doctor could help both capitalise their time and reduce time wastage. Smartphone health apps can improve the channels of communication between doctors and patients. Since all the health care records, data and information are stored and uploaded to the application, the doctors can easily access these and identify if additional investigations need to be conducted, additional consults need to be made or if the patient can be sent a message regarding any vital piece of information to manage his/her health. The doctors can also share the patients’ medical report with other doctors for consultation with just a tap on the screen which also contributes to saving a lot of time.

Further, using the smartphone, doctors can send patients automated updates regarding health management and pre and post-op management instead of having to do so physically.

With access to their health data, patients too can ask more relevant and focused questions to their doctors. They can discuss medications, side effects, health impacts of their current physical condition etc. more accurately with their doctors. This ensures that the time spent with the physician is optimised and the discussion there is result-driven.

Finance Management

Medical finances can be quite complex to manage and lead to a lot of time wastage for both, the doctor and the patient. Smartphone apps can help immensely here by keeping track of all medical expenses for the patient. Medical bills, doctors’ fees, insurance claims details, cost of lab reports, hospital reports etc. can all be stored the mobile app and accessed from the smartphone whenever required. For doctors too, mobile apps can be of great help in making finance management simpler and more organised. Instead of wasting their time managing their financial transactions and making sure that these are organised, doctors can simply use a smartphone app to centrally store and manage all financial information such as transactions, referral fees, consultation charges, clinic and hospital billings etc. easily and access them whenever needed easily.

Analyse This

Data is king. It gives us detailed and quantified insights to make better and well-informed decisions – both for the patients and the doctors. Better decisions mean better health and patient management which consequently translates to optimal time usage and lesser time wastage. Access to medical health analytics can be easy using a good smartphone app. These apps compare health history, evaluate crucial checkpoints, and reveal relevant data that gives patients intelligent insights into their current state of health. Armed with this information the patients can take preventive steps to improve their health and avoid medical problems.

Doctors also can leverage healthcare analytics to better schedule their time and take a more preventive approach to health and disease management. Analysing medical and health data can inform doctors when patients tend to get sick most, the kind of health risks emerge at which times in the year, what kind of tests are being run repeatedly, what factors are contributing to repeated ailments etc. Analytics also helps in better clinic and practice management – all of this ensure that the time at hand can be used for the best purpose.

Clearly, time today has become the ultimate commodity and a common denominator for both physicians and patients. As the smartphone becomes a ubiquitous part of our lives, it only makes sense to use it to increase the time efficiency of our healthcare interactions and make sure that the time doctors and patients have at hand is utilised in the best possible manner – in decisive conversations that make health better.

Performance Perfect – Cloud Technology for Clinics and Hospitals

Technology has been the great enabler of efficiencies across industries and organizations. Amongst other industries, the healthcare sector too has warmed up to the adoption of technology to improve patient outcomes. Greater information exchanges, streamlined processes, better access to patient data and patient information, and better hospital outcomes are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the advantages of technology adoption in healthcare.

Most large organizations are investing heavily in IT systems that help them achieve better outcomes. However, is technology adoption exclusive to larger hospitals? As patient expectations from healthcare providers continue to grow, it is becoming evident that technology adoption cannot be exclusive to larger hospitals and healthcare units. In order to meet patient expectation and increase efficiencies, smaller clinics cannot remain locked in the paper trap and have to look towards technology. The cloud is one such technology that can help both large hospitals and small clinics remove infrastructure burdens and improve patient outcomes.

The Cloud has been one of the most disruptive technologies of our times. While there is a lot that has been written about how the Cloud is transforming healthcare, in this blog, we take a look at how cloud can help smaller practices improve their outcomes and focus on what really matters – the patient

Zero infrastructure demands

One of the greatest advantages of the cloud is that it has no infrastructure demands. Cloud solutions do not demand heavy capital expenditure and allow acquisition of IT resources on demand thereby providing a cost effective deployment model. Clinicians wanting to leverage the power of the cloud can simply purchase or subscribe for a cloud-based solution and upload their information into this application environment.

Easy implementation and scalability

Comprehensive cloud solutions can be set up almost immediately. Anyone with absolute no technical knowledge can start using the solutions within a matter of few minutes. Additionally, these applications can be easily scaled according to demand. Adding multiple users, increasing functionalities, modules etc. can be done at the click of a button.

Data security

One of the challenges facing technology adoption was that of data security. However, today’s cloud applications encrypt data in rest and in transit to satisfy the data security concerns of clinicians. Instead of keeping patient records and patient history in a hard copy format that can easily get lost or misplaced, the cloud provides clinicians a way to keep a central information repository and provides application level security. This ensures that only the authorised personnel have information access and that this healthcare data is not misused or misplaced at any given time.

Mobility

The cloud gives doctors and clinicians the capability to host all patient related information in a central repository thus making medical history management inherently easier.  Since doctors are almost always on the move, they need a technology solution that helps them stay productive even when they are on the move. The cloud enables mobility and helps doctors access all patient related information, medical records, test results etc. from the convenience of their preferred device – be it a smartphone or a tablet – and also helps them upload and share information from their mobile device irrespective of their location.

Cost advantage

With Cloud, clinicians have to pay just for the usage on a month-on-month basis. They don’t need to invest heavily in infrastructure and hardware and software. Cloud-based applications can simply be accessed from the web browser. By leveraging the pay-per-use model provided by cloud service providers, clinicians can significantly lower their technology investments.

Improved doctor-patient interaction

Several cutting-edge cloud-based clinic management solutions allow doctors to stay connected with their patients. Using such solutions, clinicians can empower their patients to monitor their own health and store their own health records online. Using this patient data, the doctors can suggest more accurate treatment to their patients. Also, since the information is stored online, patients don’t need to carry heavy files and documents of their medical history with them and at the same time, they can completely update their doctors about their health status.

As the consumerisation of healthcare continues, doctors should look at technologies such as the cloud to help doctors manage their time and resources better and improve the quality of patient interactions.

At Mars Plus, we have created a fully-integrated healthcare platform, specifically for the needs of Indian Medical Practitioners. It helps physicians better manage their practice through a single mobile-friendly system. With modules for patient management, billing management, finance management, referrals and multiple clinic management, Mars Plus makes it easy for doctors to manage all the aspects of their practice, ensure compliance, get more patient time, and offer better patient care. Know more about it at http://marspls.com.

 

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.

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.