Networking for Smart City and Smart Health

The Smart City mission, a part of the Urban Rejuvenation initiative by the Government of India, is a step towards leveraging technology to create smart solutions to make our cities efficient and sustainable. This concept includes smart governance, education, and healthcare along with smart buildings, infrastructure and energy. The rise of digital India and the government’s ongoing initiatives towards digitisation have taken this concept from dream to a reality. Considering that the success ratio of any city is directly proportional to the health of its people, can the smart city and smart health concepts remain mutually exclusive?

Nilesh Vyas, a US-based technologist, has a long experience in healthcare systems and solutions. He is the founder of MARS Plus, a fully-integrated healthcare platform. “This digital age compels us to explore opportunities for doing things better. An integrated ecosystem for smart health is a strong push in making healthcare better, more organised and accessible for all,” he shares. He further gives a lowdown on the same.

According to him, new and emerging technologies in healthcare are driving the consumerisation of healthcare. The smart health ecosystem, much like the smart city concept, aims to leverage technologies to bring about healthcare transformation. This concept gives healthcare providers the option to leverage technologies to create a healthcare system that is more efficient, organised and resilient, thus helping them become more patientcentric by connecting the dots in our existing healthcare structure.

However, in order to reap the benefits of the ‘smart’ concept, what we need is a completely connected and integrated ecosystem that removes the silos that impede growth.

A connected healthcare system, much like the Smart City concept, leverages data to improve efficiencies. Whether it is to improve doctor-patient interactions, improve process efficiencies, or improve healthcare management, data is where we must look. However, when data is stored in siloes, it becomes hard to access and process. An integrated ecosystem takes care of this challenge and makes sure that the users and providers have anywhere, anytime access to all health-related data to facilitate better decision-making. An integrated platform that offers OPD, and IPD management, EHR/ EMR management, finance management, electronic medi-claim supplemented with data analytics helps in eliminating performance inhibitors in the hospital environment.

Such an integrated ecosystem works towards connecting all the stakeholders of healthcare on one platform to facilitate information exchange. This means the patient, the doctors, and the ancillary healthcare branches such as pharmacy both inside the hospital and outside, and labs are also connected seamlessly using a central network. Patient care, thus, becomes infinitely easier with greater access and management of health data for all stakeholders.

The data generated from smart health initiatives can be used to further public health initiatives. Identifying public health problems, assessing risks of pandemics and epidemics, facilitating better decision-making and proactive care become easier and efficient with the help of data.

Such systems can also help in better disease management by enabling better pre and post-operative care. Chronic health diseases management can become easier using mHealth. This helps in reducing hospital readmission rates. Additionally, this variety of data is a goldmine for aiding preventive medicine along with aiding research.

This article originally appeared in Times of India

An Evening Dedicated To Those Who Dedicate Themselves To Us – Times Health Icons Pune 2017

“People pay the doctor for his trouble; for his kindness they still remain in his debt.”- Seneca (the Younger) of Ancient Rome

Mars Pune Times Health Icons It’s hard to think of a profession that carries with it greater moral value than the medical profession. Doctors, quite literally, hold our lives in their hands and to reach that stature they must endure almost unimaginable personal sacrifice and expend an extraordinary amount of labour. Despite all that when was the last time you heard of doctors being honoured for their role in society? Well, the Times Health Icons Pune 2017 was a signal attempt to correct that injustice, and we were privileged to be the title sponsor of this wonderful event.

The evening was dedicated to awarding the finest contributors to Pune’s healthcare services sector. A rigorous survey was conducted by i3 Research Consultants to identify the leading lights in various specialised areas of the practice of medicine. The Survey revealed large hospitals, smaller clinics, and specific individual doctors in various areas whose exemplary contributions demanded recognition. The who’s who of Pune’s medical fraternity joined this celebration of the best the city had to offer.

Mars Pune Times Health Icons

This was also an opportunity to hear from some leading lights with wonderful insights to offer derived from their own personal experiences. The Chief Guest, Dr. Ranjit Patil, Minister of State Home in the Maharashtra Government spoke as a member of the community with the weight of 24 years of experience as an orthopedic surgeon. He mentioned the tremendous pace of growth in the sector – estimated to be at 16.5% over this year. He also spoke of the need to focus even more on the provision of secondary and tertiary healthcare services to the unorganized and rural sector and of the key role that the private sector could play in this key task. He heartily congratulated the winners and in conclusion, left everyone with a keen sense of the task still at hand.Mars Pune Times Health Icons

Our interest has always been in how technology can be leveraged to help doctors improve the quality of care they provide. A panel discussion outlined exactly how this synergy could pay rich dividends. A visionary panel comprising Dr. Mathias Fobi, Dr. Mohit Bhandari, and Dr. Pritesh Vyas shared their personal experiences with adopting high technology and of how this helped them improve care, streamline their clinic operations, and stay more in touch with the entire ecosystem that came together to serve the patient. They each specifically spoke of the role of data. They highlighted how important it was becoming to providing collaborative care and an improved patient experience. Dr. Fobi and Dr. Bhandari especially spoke of how data was being used to help shorten treatment cycles and identify early indicators of chronic complaints. Our CEO, Mr. Nilesh Vyas, was also fortunate enough to get the opportunity to outline the Mars Plus vision to an appreciative audience. We believe that our vision of an integrated healthcare ecosystem that put the patient at the heart of the process, resonated with them.

Dr Sancheti at Mars Pune Times Health IconsIn probably the most inspirational talk of the evening, Dr. K H Sancheti, addressed his fellow doctors. Over 50 years of experience has made him an iconic name in orthopedic care in India and, indeed, the world. He has been recognized by the Government of India with the very highest level of civilian honours – he is a Padma Shri, a Padma Bhushan, and a Padma Vibhushan. He told the tale of how he was inspired to become a doctor and of the principles that guided his journey. His experiences served as a beacon for the entire audience. His closing remarks will stay with everyone for a long time. He said, “We not only use our head but our heart to treat patients too. This has, and always will, make all the difference in treating patients.”

The evening was all about the awards though. Doctors, clinics, and hospitals got awarded in categories like Cardiology, IVF, Diabetology, Breast Cancer care, Bariatrics, Organ Transplant, and Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery among others. Other fields like Dentistry and Trichology also found their due mention. The awardees were radiant as they stepped up to accept the recognition.

As an emerging, but committed part of this ecosystem this evening meant a lot to us. Of course, it was a great opportunity to showcase ourselves to a community of devoted medical practitioners. But more than that, for us it was a chance to show our appreciation for a community that deserves all the recognition it can get – and more!

Team Mars Plus at Times Health Icons Pune 2017
Team Mars Plus at Mars Pune Times Health Icons

6 Tips To Remember Your Doctor’s Instructions

Having to visit a doctor with a loved one who is suffering is one thing but when you are the patient, it quite another. A doctor’s meeting can cause anxiety but did you know? Anxiety affects your brain and your cognitive function. If you feel anxious during a doctor’s meeting, it can affect your memory making it hard for you to remember the specifics of your doctor’s instructions. Even if you remembered what was discussed, studies have shown that it may only be 50 percent of the right information. See? This is why you need to know these tips to remember your doctor’s instructions!

Prepare yourself

Speaking to another adult about your intimate and personal issue can be a little intimidating. Yes, doctors can also overwhelm you and just to be their presence creates anxiety for some people. Here’s information you need to prepare yourself with before you meet with your doctor.

  • Note down all the symptoms you’re having.
  • If you record your progress or health failing in a journal, bring that.
  • Talk about any situation or person or life change that may cause you stress.
  • Note down all the medicines you may be already taking or bring them along.
  • Are you allergic to anything or ay particular medicine? Remember and take notes.
  • If you’re already on a multivitamin or if you need supplements for any reason and note that down too to share it with your doctor too.
  • Remember to bring all your medical records, previous tests or x-rays? Yes, bring them.

Even better, in today’s age of smartphones, maintain your medical history on your phone so that you don’t have to carry many files and other such details in physical copies along with you.

Ask questions

Sometimes, we don’t like to admit that you didn’t understand something. However, it’s very important to remember your doctor’s instructions. So at the appointment, be sure to ask many questions. Along with all the things you already prepare yourself for in the first point, note down questions as well. Ask these questions one by one at the appointment. If you didn’t understand an instruction, stop the conversation and get clarify right there. If the doctor wasn’t available, check with a nurse or another physician in the vicinity and clear all your doubts before you leave the premises.

Take notes instead of audio recording

Yes, in this fast-paced world, who has the time to write on a notepad anymore? Who does that, right? Well, although you will have to ask permission for voice or video recording, not all doctors are happy about reducing the meeting in any form. For the simple reason that digital recording can be misused. So doctors don’t like to be recording for the fear of using that as evidence for malpractice etc. you don’t want to change your doctor’s mood for any reason, that may affect the meeting. So being safe, take notes instead. Writing using a pen and paper helps you remember better anyway.

Use your smartphone

You also have the notes application on your smartphones. Use that to take notes during your examination. Make sure you write every instruction your doctor gives you down.

Bring a loved one

Whether it is your friend or a family member, your loved one will remind you of things you may forget to bring up the drug in the appointment. Your intention by preparing yourself beforehand and bringing your medical records is all done with good intentions. However, when you find yourself seated at the examination table, you may be too nervous or feel the anxiety to ask your questions. Let your loved one be your rock and your guide. Besides, while you may be on the table, your loved one can take the notes for you!

Organize yourself & follow up

You can organize yourself to remember to take your prescribed medication. Here are a few ideas:

  • Set a reminder on your phone to take medication.
  • Stick the prescription paper on your fridge or anywhere within reach.
  • Follow up with your doctor/physician/nurse if you need more help or information.

So if you get home and you find that your symptoms have changed or worsened, you may have to follow up, anyway. Update your health records and share the details with your doctor when you visit for a follow-up.

Traditional Medicine Turned into A Modern-Day Party Beverage – Tea

Did you now? The history of tea is infused with a blend of myth, facts, spirituality, and science. According to the Chinese legends, the history of tea dates back to 2737 B.C Emperor Shen Nong accidentally discovered tea. The Indian history attributes the discovery of tea to Prince Bodhidharma, the saint who founded the Zen school of Buddhism. It was not until the Tang dynasty (618-907) that the consumption of tea became widespread and it was in the Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644) that tea was prepared by the whole leaves in the water like it is done today.

Traders, missionaries, and explorers traveling back and forth between Europe and the Orient took the drink with them in their travels and got it home in the 17th century. By the early 1700s, the British East India Company established itself as the dominant trading power and monopolized the tea trade with China. The history of tea traverses various paths across the world, tracing the history of rulers, political struggles and such alongside.

Today, tea is the world’s most popular beverage after water. It is not just a refreshing and tasty beverage that can be served hot or cold, but it is loved by people for its various health benefits too. Let’s look at some of them here:

Tea is rich in antioxidants

Green tea is rich in polyphenols such as catechin that helps fight the free radicals in your system, reverses aging, and heals your body. Non-herbal teas also have antioxidants but green tea is richer in antioxidants because it is the least processed. The antioxidant properties of tea help boost your immune system. Tea is also rumored to help battle cancer as antioxidants destroy free-radicals that are generated during chemotherapy and radiation.

Tea has less caffeine than coffee

Non-herbal regular tea has 50% less caffeine than that in coffee, whereas your herbal teas have no caffeine. This means that non-herbal tea will be less addictive than coffee and won’t harm your nervous system either. Herbal tea can be consumed with no side effects at all! Tea, contrary to the common beliefs, tea, in fact, hydrates. So you don’t have to worry about having a few cups of tea in a day!

Tea may reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke

Research says a cup of green tea a day lowers the risk of stroke and four or more cups of green tea a day reduce LDL cholesterol levels in the system, thus reducing the risk of a heart attack. The antioxidants in team reduce the risk stroke. Also, the flavonoids can prevent the artery walls from narrowing, and thus, can also reduce the chances of having a stroke. Who knew a simple beverage could help you so much? If you don’t love tea already, it is time to go make friends with this awesome drink.

Tea is for better mental health

Studies show that the amino acid L-theanine found in the tea plant can help you relax and better concentrate. In fact, some studies also show that Black team can help in reducing the stress hormones in the body! Red Tea, an herbal tea from Africa, helps in reducing headaches, irritability and tensions. The caffeine in tea also helps in giving a boost to improve your short-term memory.

Tea prevents cavities

Tea changes the pH in your mouth, thus, preventing cavities and also does not erode tooth enamel like many other beverages. The fluoride and tannins contents in team can help in reducing plaque buildup and tooth decay. The compounds in tea also suppress bacteria and slow down tooth decay and prevent gum diseases. Who would have thought! But, of course, don’t add sugar to your tea.

Tea soothes your digestive system

Herbal tea, particularly, chamomile tea can soothe your tummy. It is antispasmodic and can be good for those with an irritable bowel syndrome. Ginger tea calms nausea. Orange flavored tea also helps in case of nausea. When you have an upset tummy, tea, brewed without milk helps soothe that. Mildly brewed tea, with a dash of honey and lime, is great for your tummy in a hot and humid weather.

One simple drink packs a ton of punch! It’s no wonder that this incredible beverage has been a part of our culture for ages and is loved by many around the world.  Treat yourself to a cup of soothing, yummy tea. You will relish it even more than usual now you know how beneficial it is for your system.

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.