Healthcare and Technology

In the year 2010, 21-year-old Ravindra Mokashi, a resident of Vada village in Thane district, was stricken by an almost debilitating pain around his mouth and throat. Ultimately, swelling in the area combined with an inability to swallow even a morsel of food, forced Mokashi to make the long trek to the Thane District Hospital in Thane city. But doctors there were unable to identify what appeared to be a growth near his throat.

It was then that they consulted specialists at KEM Hospital Pune with the help of a telemedicine centre that had been set up at both healthcare centres less than two years ago. Doctors in Mumbai, after studying Mokashi’s case, diagnosed him with a rare condition, schwannoma of hypoglossal nerve, a benign tumour. “We didn’t know if the mass was a normal occurrence or not. So we consulted doctors at KEM. The verdict was that the benign growth had to be operated on immediately,’’ said Dr V Kalwanda, Thane District Hospital. Mokashi underwent surgery on February 15, where doctors removed an almost four-cm-long mass of tumour.

Source: Times of India

This is just one of the case where telemedicine has helped a patient. In Pune since the start of telemedicine in KEM hospital, rural Maharashtra has benefited from it in several ways. Such stories can now be found in other states such as Rajasthan, Assam, Bihar and all over India.

Telemedicine now makes a mockery of distance and provides a timely and expert doctor care to the people residing in the remote parts of the country.

Our healthcare system even helps out several African countries with telemedicine. In a closely monitored project by our previous President APJ Abdul Kalam, India helped connect several remote areas in African countries and provided the people there with much needed healthcare at affordable rates. In addition the ill-equipped and under staffed hospitals of such African countries can now discuss medical cases and even perform critical operations under the supervision of expert medical counterparts sitting in India.

Technology has advanced in order to deliver healthcare in more ways than one. Now people are no longer stuck up with what their doctor tells them.

The first thing an internet-savvy youth does when he is facing some form of physical pain or discomfort is put the symptoms on a search engine to find out what is ailing him. Information exchange has become so easy that medical reports of an Indian patient are sent to specialist sitting in U.S. or Europe to get a second opinion.

Patients today are not satisfied by just simply following what their doctors tell them. They seek second opinion, they search for possible causes, they investigate medicines and their side effects that a doctor may have suggested. Patients also pose different question to their doctors about their medical condition and treatment they’re undergoing. Ease of access to information has empowered them to take informed decisions and presented them with more suitable choices.

Alternative medicines are getting lot of focus with the advent of technology in healthcare industry. This has kept the medical fraternity also on their toes, to diagnose better, to suggest better options that include non-invasive and other safer methods.

Websites with information on medicine and alternative medicine have mushroomed in past few years. Mobile apps can help you track your medicine schedule, can keep a track of your vitals, medical reports and much more.

At the minimum every nook and corner of the country is equipped with a phone, every other person in the country now carries a mobile. Even this piece of technology has made remarkable strides in providing and receiving healthcare. With this easy mode of communication, patients interact with their friends and relatives at different places to get more information about the cures to their ailments or specialists available in different parts of the country.

20 years back this was not the case, a patient was at the mercy of doctor and his treatment and in some ways this is still the case. Technology has changed this picture for the better and continues to do so. In the years to come it will help each and every Indian receive better medical care at affordable rates.

Savetime.com is also another small step in this direction.

AbhinavAbhinav is CTO at savetime.com. Besides the work he likes to be involved in several different exciting things.  Technology interests him but more than that the usage of technology to solve real world problems excites him more.  Working with teams to achieve difficult targets and in the process helping individuals realize their full potential is one of  his skills. He is an ardent blogger and social media enthusiast. When not working, he is either blogging, reading or bicycling.

Impact on healthcare practice by the use of eRx.

A July 2006 report from National Academics of Science’s Institute of Medicine (IOM), says “Doctors’ sloppy handwritten prescription kills more than 7,000 people annually and also preventable medication mistakes injure more than 1.5 million Americans annually.”

If that’s the case in a developed country, imagine the state of medical prescriptions in India where medical awareness is scarce, especially in rural India.

To address the situation and give a push for electronic medical records, healthcare companies and technology firms have launched a program to enable all doctors in U.S. to write electronic prescription (eRx).

eRx in India though not completely new, still is not adapted and is a rarely used practice. Though many undisputed advantages can be gained by using eRx, i.e. check for potentially harmful drug interactions and ensure that pharmacies provide appropriate medications and doses. “Thousands of people are dying, and we’ve been talking about these problems for ages”, says Mitesh Bohra CEO, savetime.com, who has initiated a project in Pune to digitize all doctor information and create ability for a doctor to write prescriptions on a tablet computer. “Today we have the technology to change the way healthcare is practiced in India, so why aren’t we doing it?”, he asks.

Doctor with a Digital Tablet Prescription PadOne of the biggest reasons why it is not in practice yet is because of ignorance and hence doctors haven’t invested in this needed technology. When people become aware of the worldwide fact and use technology the same way as in other sectors, healthcare for sure will be revolutionized.

Focusing on the bright side of this technology- that the patients would not have to struggle in understanding their own prescriptions and also they get it in digital format so their medical history can also be stored.

Automation should eliminate many of the errors that occur when a pharmacist misunderstands or misrecords medication names or dosages, conveyed messily on paper or hurriedly over the phone. For example: a spoken request of Celebrex can be mistaken for Celexa, or a notation requesting 150 milligrams of a drug might be read as 1500mg. In electronic systems, drugs and dosages are selected from menus to prevent input errors, and pharmacists don’t need to re-enter information.

Let’s hope that eRx turns out to be the default practice in coming years and  efforts made by healthcare IT companies such as Savetime help save thousands of lives caused by misinterpretations made by improperly written prescription.

Shashank Rathore

Shashank loves to try out new and different things. His adventurous spirit led him to Savetime where he works on UI/UX and is enjoying the challenges that comes with it thoroughly. Highly motivated and a confident soul, Shashank dreams to be an entreprenuer himself. Listening to songs and high quality of friendship keeps him striving for excellence.

Taking on Negligence, Malpractice and Inefficiencies in Healthcare.

How trustworthy are doctors today? Are they really fulfilling their duties as a lifesaver with full dignity?

Today, individuals are not plagued as much by diseases or illnesses, but by medical malpractice.

A friend of mine who was pretty much fit thought of doing a complete body check up. When her test results came out, she turned blue reading the highlighted, Cholesterol: 300 mg/dL. She ran to her physician with the report. He said she needs to control her diet and stop consuming oily stuff as her cholesterol level has reached the maximum limit. He prescribed her few medicines to lower her cholesterol. Fearful of ill-health, she consumed those medicines and fell sick. She was taken to another hospital where they told her that cholesterol level was never high, instead it went low because of wrong medication. When her family raised this issue with the previous hospital they concluded that there was a small mistake from their end. The reports got exchanged. Really?

How simple it was for them to say it was a small mistake. Was the mental and physical pain the patient had to undergo of no significance? This mistake could have lead to severe health issues for my friend.

Another malpractice that we observe is in the Emergency Rooms (ER) at many hospitals that have become chaotic environments where overcrowding and medical negligence is a serious problem. Many patients are left wounded waiting for hours in the queue in order to be evaluated and treated for their medical needs.  Although most patients who are kept waiting for long periods of time will not see any significant deterioration, some patients may have medical conditions far more dangerous. When doctors and nurses are overloaded with patients, they are forced to rush from patient to patient to manage the crowd, sometimes causing them to misdiagnose a patient’s medical condition. Under this type of workload the medical staff is more likely to be tired, overworked, stressed, and disconnected from their patients. This increases the patient’s medical negligence and they are left harmed as a result. Surgical mistakes are also a big cause of death for thousands of people today. Because the patient is unconscious during an operation, he or she is generally the last person to find out if any medical malpractice occurred. The black market in human organs has become a grave threat to public health. Patients completely rely on the medical practitioners without even realizing that post surgery they return home without some essential organs of their body.

When we approach a doctor we usually have to fill out papers that deal with our personal information, our medical history and anything that the doctor should know about our medical condition. From there, these forms go from the clerk to the nurse, and then finally the doctor. One cannot see a lot of issues with this but it can actually cause more problems than none. Those pieces of paper pass from one hand, to another and in that whole process those pieces of paper can easily be tampered, misinterpreted and ultimately misdiagnosed as well.

Use of right technology not only helps assure that the patient’s information is taken care of, but it also helps the hospitals and doctors in improving their efficiency and the quality of diagnosis. Technology can easily help a doctor pull up a patient’s record anywhere in their office or even share it with other entities that may need it. By using technology, it ultimate helps lower the probability of medical malpractice if done appropriately by making the patient’s  information not only more easily readable, but also very clear and understandable.

To curb this issue of malpractice we need to bring in medical laws that encompass the protection of both patients and medical professionals. Patients should be protected under medical law against medical professionals who cause some form of harm, injury or death to a patient, as well as breaching a level of confidentiality. In addition there should also be a medical law to protect medical professionals who have acted responsibly when caring for a patient, despite being wrongly accused by a patient for medical malpractice or other breach of the law.

Fatima SayedFatima is working as an Associate Support in Sales and Marketing team of Savetime.com. She has completed her Bachelor of Engineering in Electronics from University of Pune in the year 2012. When she isn’t glued to her computer screen, you will find her spending her leisure time with pieces of paper creating origami structures to adorn her house.

A wakeup call for doctors? New age healthcare

“Why admit her in ICU for 5 days for an E-coli infection especially after you have isolated the bacteria through blood work and determined which antibiotics it is not resistant to?” I asked a reputed doctor.

What transpired for almost 20 minutes after this question was a classical offense-as-the-best-way-of-defense story. I was accused of being this new generation guy who reads up half-baked stuff on the internet and thinks they are more qualified than doctors. I was told to perform diagnosis and was told “bring anyone who can challenge my diagnosis”.

For the first few minutes of taking this onslaught, I was baffled. What did I say that made our डॉक्टर साब so angry? It was simply a question, a desire to understand what and why, something that is increasingly becoming a fundamental need in modern times.

It was only later did I realize that doctors in India aren’t really used to any kind of questioning, let alone a harmless information seeking question. We Indians have been living for decades in a deprived society sorely lacking education, awareness and more importantly lack of choice in which doctor you can go to. That made doctors “gods”.

That’s what is changing. The new gen is armed with a lot more education, medical information and the courage to ask questions. If a doctor is unwilling to have such conversation with patients and/or their relatives, they are putting themselves in grave danger. Not the danger of a lawsuit or a lost patient but the danger of becoming obsolete.

The new gen doctors have tremendous opportunity here to develop greater rapport and bond with the patient community by being responsive and by simply having conversations with them. The new era powered by the Internet and availability of information at your fingertips has established itself in the uprooting of traditional industries. Look around you: is travel industry the same, is retail industry the same? Healthcare services will be no exception.

It’s a wakeup call for doctors…

Mitesh Bohra, CEO & Co-founderMitesh is CEO, Co-founder at savetime.com. He has been working in the industry for over 16 years and this is his 3rd startup after InfoBeans and Infosignz. Mitesh is a BE in Electronics from India and has dual MBA from Columbia Business School, New York and Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley, California.

How to Remain Healthy at Work

Health is wealth.

Heard this? Yes, we all have. But somewhere in our busy schedule we have forgotten the fact that most of our waking hours are spent at work, which means that our working environment plays a big part in our health and well-being. Keeping healthy at work represents one of the biggest dilemmas that working professionals are facing today. Going to office and working around 10-12 hours a day, and sometimes 6 days a week, naturally drains one’s energy levels but it shouldn’t affect your health over time.

Remember, earning a living doesn’t need to cost you your health.

There are plenty of things you can do to make sure you stay healthy and happy at work. Let’s start with these few simple tips, which we can easily follow, in our day-to-day life.

Drink: No, don’t go to the weekend mood! Drink water, is what I mean. Dehydration makes you tired and sluggish. Staying hydrated can keep you energized and can prevent you from thinking you are hungry when in fact you are just thirsty.

An apple on the desk keeps the coffee away: Although coffee wakes us up and makes us feel energetic, the effect does not last long. On the other hand an apple not only provides us with fibre but also with fructose, which keeps us awake and energetic for longer hours when compared to coffee.

Get up and move: Stand up and move around every 30 minutes or so. Not only will your muscles thank you for it, but it will also improve circulation, making you a little less tired. Simply getting up and moving around for a few moments can keep you less fatigued and more focused.

Take it easy on your eyes: Poor lighting may not be the only problem for your eyes at the office. If you are working on a computer all day, please make sure to look away from your monitor periodically to give your eyes some rest every 15 to 30 minutes.

Connect with people: Feeling bored or stressed, go connect with the gossip guru or your funny co-worker in your office. Social interaction reduces stress and encourages happiness.

Say no to Elevator: If you have your office on lower floors, then take the stairs instead of elevators or escalators, as it will keep you fit and energetic.

Stretching: Perform simple stretching exercises at your chair like neck rotations, flexing your foot, stretching your legs and arms whenever you get time. This will relieve you from backache, body pain and joint pains.

Fuel your body: Think of your body as if it were a campfire. If you put too much wood on the fire at once, the fire will get smothered and burnt out. If you forget to put wood on the fire, it will die out. However, if you add small amounts of wood all day long to the fire, it will continue to burn. This is just like your body’s metabolism, if you do not continually fuel it it will burn out. Eat small meals throughout the day to fuel your body. Overall you will feel more energetic.

Get a good night’s sleep: Sleep well! Getting enough quality sleep boosts your immune system and energy levels. It also improves concentration at work, memory and your reaction time. Good sleep is very crucial and allows your body to heal and regenerate.

So it’s time to go home… mission “Healthy day at work” accomplished!

Amit Kumar

Amit takes care of the sales & marketing function at savetime.com. His in-depth knowledge of the healthcare industry and astute business acumen has helped him make pathbreaking forays in his career. His strategic vision of the function enables him to deliberate on important issues and steering it to the right direction. A post-graduate in marketing from university of Pune and a university rank holder, Amit loves to explore new places on his bike and watching Amitabh bachchan’s movies.