5 Things that Doctors Hate in Healthcare IT Technology

Technology has impacted every walk of our lives. The last few years have seen revolutionary technological advancements. From landline telephones to smartphones, from feature phones to iPhones, from slow internet connections to today’s 4G connections, technology has phenomenally transformed our lives. The way we read news on mobile, interact with friends and family members through social networking sites, do online shopping – technology has changed the way we live our lives.

Similar to other industries, the healthcare industry also is seeing rapid changes owing to the innovations in medical devices and software. Digital technologies are changing the way care is administered to patients and also the way healthcare organisations function. While there is a growth in the adoption of healthcare technologies by health providers, there is also displeasure amongst the doctors about the available healthcare technologies. It is not that doctors are not used to using latest technologies – they are the ones who have been using the latest technologies since a long time – right from MRI machines, X-Ray machines, or the various hospital instruments, they are well versed with the use of technology. Then what is wrong with today’s healthcare IT solutions?

Research shows that hospital staff spends on an average 5 hours a day entering patients’ data into electronic health records (EHRs). Hospitals are needing to hire more staff for conducting data work. A large chunk of the hospital income is being spent on keeping up with technological advancements and maintaining a task force for it. This is a completely counter-intuitive scenario. When the technology is supposed to reduce time and efforts and enhance the patient care, what is making it not deliver on its promise?

Here is our take why doctors could be hating the healthcare IT solutions available to them –

Mobility

Most of the times, doctors are on the move. From hospitals rounds, OPDs, to moving from one clinic to the other – they are hardly at their desk. The biggest drawback of many of the available healthcare IT solutions is their stationary nature. The doctors are required to input data regarding their patients after returning to their desks. With so many patients in the hospital and with an equal number of them visiting daily in the OPD, it becomes tasking to remember, recollect and retain the accurate information for each of the patients. Doctors need a solution which can allow them to access patient information anytime, anywhere, right from their mobile devices.

Non-Intuitive Interface

Some of the most crucial duties of doctors include attending to emergencies, looking after inpatients, medical floors, and attending intensive care units. What doctors need a solution which can provide them quick and easy access to patient data, reduce the costs of operations, reduce human errors and help in reliable prescriptions.

Doctors need a system which can allow them to enter data with a few clicks or drag and drop. They need a system which is extremely easy to use, works on their mobile phones or tablets, is designed “for doctors”. In many cases, the health IT solutions do not consider the working patterns of the doctors and are designed in a very complex fashion. 

Non-Integrated Systems

Hospitals and clinics generate a humongous amount of data – patient records, inventory records, data from medical stores and labs, and so on. While technology has entered hospitals and some records are being maintained through computers instead of paper records, all the systems still work in silos. There is no integration of this information. This further adds to the woes of the doctors and the medical staff working in the hospitals and clinics. A major chunk of their medical time is invested in maintaining, finding, or sorting the data. Having a solution which integrates various aspects of the healthcare ecosystem will immensely help the medical fraternity as it can give them quick access to all the required information.

Complex Workflows

Each hospital and clinic follows specific workflows. Just because they are adopting a particular technology does not mean that the hospitals will change their workflows. The health IT solution should be flexible and adaptable to the hospital’s specific workflows. It needs to allow the creation of custom workflows. Since no two doctors think alike, each doctor follows a specific style of working, a specific pattern, and processes the information in a particular way. When the IT systems force all the doctors to follow the same pattern, the doctors don’t appreciate it and it makes them unproductive.

Hard to Manage 

The doctors or the staff at the healthcare organisation are not necessarily equipped to handle complex hardware and software. Handling software failures or hardware updates is a daunting task for them. Hospitals also do not want to build and manage their own IT teams to maintain and upgrade their IT systems. They need solutions which can be accessed via the web, do not require any efforts on their part to upgrade or maintain, and do not need any capital investment in hardware or software. That’s where the latest cloud-based solutions are gaining popularity amongst the doctors and hospitals.

Time is of the essence for doctors, and they need to take very crucial decisions within a very short time. We, at Mars Plus believe that technology should aid the doctors in their decision-making, reduce their time and efforts, help them spend more time with their patients, reduce their costs and overheads, and improve the overall patient care. With that in mind, we have designed a very user-friendly and fully-integrated healthcare ecosystem – check it out at www.marspls.com.

 

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.

 

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.

How Technology Can Transform Doctor-Patient Relationship

The doctor-patient relationship is on the cusp of disruption. The increased availability of information, technology adoption, the rise of smartphones, better carrier networks, and increased internet usage are all contributing to the rise of the ‘involved patient’. Susannah Fox entrepreneur in residence at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation says, “Consumers only used to get a filtered drip of information. What the Internet did was pull open that funnel and give people more access — not complete access — to health information.

No longer are patients passive consumers of healthcare. Today, they want to manage their own health journeys, make their own health choices, keep track of their wellbeing and access clinical support that they feel is right for them. Almost 90% of the millennial generation look for medical information on social networks before they make their healthcare decisions – it is a testament to the fact that the locus of control is moving from the hands of the physician alone and into the hands of the individuals seeking care. With the help of technology, healthcare providers too, are looking at improving patient engagement along with increasing efficiencies and improving operational costs.

Physicians today are looking at mobile phones to boost patient engagement and optimally utilize their time in between commutes. A report from Research2Guidance shows that almost 80% of physicians now use a smartphone or medical app. Since an increasing number of mobile apps are now being developed keeping the regulatory and compliance requirements in mind, the healthcare community comprising of doctors, private practices and hospitals are now finding it easier to use mobile devices across the healthcare spectrum. James Avallone, Director of Physician Research at Manhattan Research aptly states, “As we move to an outcomes-based model of healthcare provision…, remote monitoring and telehealth are going to drive an extension of the point of care. We’re seeing physician attitudes really align with policy.”  In this blog, we take a look at how technology is helping doctors and patients foster a better working relationship.

Health Information Management

Given that most patients have online access, they can leverage technology to access their health records. Technologies such as cloud give both the physician and the patient access to health records such as scans, X-Rays, pathological reports, patient history etc. anytime and anywhere. This ensures that neither the patient nor the doctor wastes any time looking for and filtering the right healthcare information when they need it. With health information management systems, doctors can get a comprehensive view of a patient’s health history and are aware of any problems or issues that the patient might have forgotten to mention during a consultation. Such technologies make sure that the consultation time is used productively which make doctor-patient interactions smoother and more effective.

Improved Communication

Technology is also helping doctors and patients improve interactions with each other. With more access to their health-related information, patients feel more in control of their care as they are able to understand their conditions better.

  • Post consultation updates that can be automated and sent via SMS’s ensure that patients have access to all vital pieces of information that are essential for managing their health.
  • Improved doctor-patient interactions not only impacts the patient’s experience with the doctor but also make sure that they follow their practitioner’s directives better.
  • Access to health data also gives patients the chance to ask relevant and more focused questions to their doctors and helps them gain an understanding of what their health data is saying from the physician.
  • With technology, patients can now discuss their medications, side effects, alternative medicine, lifestyle changes etc. with their doctors more accurately.

The role of the doctor thus has evolved from being an authoritarian care provider to one who is more of a mentor and an advisor. The doctors too are able to facilitate these interactions easily as getting access to current and updated patient data and records are at their fingertips owing to smartphones.

Pre and Post-Operative Care

Technology goes a long way in advancing patient outcomes by improving pre and post-operative care and improves the surgical pathways.

  • Doctors can use technology to help the patient understand risks and benefits of a particular surgery before an operation with the help of evidence-based suggestions.
  • With the help of direct messages, doctors can intimate the patient on the necessary precautions and measures they need to take before a surgery.
  • Health information exchanges can become more streamlined when clinical data in the form of medical records and investigation results can be efficiently shared with the right stakeholders before surgical intervention making the pre-operative process smoother for both the patient and the doctors.
  • Doctors can also use technology to deliver tailored post-operative care plans which include expected length of stay, post-operative care, self-managed symptoms, and side effects etc.
  • They can complete symptom assessments electronically that can help in effective discharge planning and send electronic alerts to their patients regarding medicines and consultation reminders once they are discharged from the hospital to make health management easier and effective.

Chronic Disease Management

Technology goes a long way in chronic disease management. Mobile health applications help people with chronic diseases become more accountable towards their health. Interoperable applications enable doctors to gather healthcare data to track their patient’s behaviours and send out timely reminders to help them manage their conditions better and decrease hospital readmissions. With such technology, medical staff can send out educational interventions by providing objective data and helps the patients manage their condition better.  Almost 93% of doctors believe that mHealth applications can improve a patient’s health and 40% of doctors believe that mHealth technologies can reduce the number of visits to a physician.

Risk Management

Mobile health applications also give physicians access to health-related data which helps them identify potential candidates who are ‘at risk’ of a particular disease. For example, accessing health data to identify patients who have been susceptible to the flu at a certain time of the year can help the doctor take a more preventive approach towards healthcare. The same data can be put to use to even identify patients who are at risk for chronic diseases such as diabetes, coronary diseases etc.  and preventive steps can be taken to reduce risk and promote better health.

Clearly, technology has been a big influencer in the changing doctor-patient dynamics. However, while leveraging healthcare technologies, it is essential that the application fosters interoperability between the patient and the doctor, is easy to use and is secure. Technology is allowing both patients and practitioners more control over health by offering reliable data, access to clinical support, and high information levels. This is helping patients get closer to medical science and health management than ever before by increasing transparency and participation and is helping doctors improve the quality of their patient interactions, reduce wait times and better patient outcomes.

 

Adoption of Technology by Clinics and Small Hospitals – Why and How?

New technologies and innovation are being adopted in all sectors nowadays. The healthcare industry is catching up with this trend too. The growth of technology is enabling faster and efficient diagnosis and treatments for the patients. This means major competition for the smaller players such as clinics and small hospitals. If they still want to be a part of the growing market and retain their businesses, they need to become a part of the technological whirlwind too. Digitisation on small or big levels will help them retain their customers and provide better patient care, quality, and value.

Let us look at the various problems faced by small and medium-sized hospitals –

Limited Infrastructure and Resources:
Small hospitals face a lot of ground level problems. They function with limited resources. Their small budgets allow them to hire only a certain number of doctors, paramedical staff, and technicians. A lot of times, individuals need to take care of multiple roles to share the burden of work. The infrastructure at smaller clinics and hospitals is set up on a very basic level. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), out of the 57 countries facing the crisis of limited resources in the health sector, India’s rank is 52nd. In another 100-bed hospital at Jhansi, after 4 pm there was only one nurse to cater to all the 100 patients. The impact of deficiency or lack of efficient resources is seen to affect the overall functioning of any hospital. It puts the personnel under pressure, affects the morale of the health workers, and also affects the overall quality of care.

Unavailability or Ignorance of Information:
With the increasing demand for modern healthcare services, it is vital for doctors and physicians in both big and small hospitals to be able to provide high-level consultation and medication to their patients. In smaller hospitals, this is missing due to their ignorance towards professionalism or the lack of information. Poorly functioning sub-centres, PHCs and CHCs result in people having to depend on the bigger hospitals. Overcrowding in hospitals, lack of outreach, unavailability of standards and norms are some of the other problems that give patients no choice but to not trust their services.

Lack of Organisation:
Larger brands of hospitals are more organised and function uniformly across all departments since they make use of high-quality techniques, equipment, and technology. They avoid paperwork by making use of Hospital Management Systems so that all the relevant information is backed up in a single place. They avoid hard copies of all reports and rely on a single online source of information for faster and timely access. All such things are missing in small hospitals because they, in most cases, do not leverage technology to increase their operational efficacy.

What do hospitals need?
So what can help the small and medium-sized hospitals to change the way they have been functioning? They need to adopt a technological system which can help solve these problems.

  • An easy to use Hospital Management System (HMS) can be implemented so that all the people involved in the hospital, including physicians, doctors, nurses, caretakers, laboratory personnel, pathological department, etc. can understand it and make good use of it.
  • The HMS should be capable of providing the schedules and availability of the physicians within the hospital.
  • The HMS should have scalable architecture and configurable workflows so that tasks such as admissions, bed management, nurse management, insurance management, transfers, returns, eligibility, etc. can be undertaken systematically while ensuring that a record of each of them is maintained.
  • There should also be an option of maintaining a detailed medical history of every patient, which can be available whenever required. This would also help doctors make broad or specific reports for the patients and also use them for decision-making. Doctors will not have to spend hours going through paperwork since all the information will be readily available. Integrated functioning of this HMS will help segregate all the data together in one place.

MARS Plus is one such Healthcare Management Systems, which has been created considering the specific needs of Indian Healthcare system. The interface is designed such that it can be setup quickly depending on the size and requirement of the hospital or clinic. It allows a lot of customisations to help the hospital gain maximum benefit out of it even at low costs.

With digitisation and modernisation, inculcating the smartphone for keeping health records, communication between doctors and patients and sharing of data can help. A lot of apps available in the market today provide options to doctors and physicians to manage their lists of patients, appointments, records, files, budgets, and finances. This can help them save time, become more efficient in terms of data storage, improve their performance and, thereby, have a positive impact on the hospitals as well as the patients they are dealing with. The key is to try to integrate all the aspects of health care management using a single solution to meet all needs.

Adopting technology will provide great scope to small hospitals and clinics to come at par with what rest of the players in the health sector are doing. It will bring about a change in the way they have the functioning and allow faster facilitation of processes and treatments.