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.

 

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.

5 Reasons you should take control of your Personal Health Records

Personal Health Records – Helping Patients be in Control of their Health and Wellness

 

With your every visit to a physician, hospital or healthcare provider, you add a new record paper in your medical file. Your file cabinet is filled with your medical files, reports, X-rays, and prescriptions. Whenever you want to access any old report, you dig out all the files to find the right information. Any follow-up visit to the doctor or a consultation with a new doctor needs an hour of preparation because you need to collate all the past reports, prescriptions and other such details.

Today’s smartphone savvy generation has got all the things in control through their phones. They also have a lot of fitness apps installed on their phones which track their fitness goals, calorie count, tablet reminders and all such things. But somehow maintaining a consolidated medical health record online has slipped through the cracks. For many of us, a complete record of all the personal health information still cannot found in a single location at any given time.

Let’s look at some of the advantages of maintaining a personalized digital health record, also called as Personal Health Record (PHR), and that will convince you to look for options to use your smartphone for your healthcare needs as well –

1. Manage your Health and Wellness

Having one place to access the healthcare records and information helps you stay on top of your health. You can maintain a list of your medications, health history, lab results, scans and X-rays, and all such details at a single location. It makes it easy to search and look for information – anytime, anywhere. You don’t need to have physical access to the report files in case you need some information urgently. With PHR, you can track patterns and better manage your health and wellness.

2. Better Inform your Doctors

Whenever you visit your doctor, you can get the most from the visit by updating your doctor with your latest health information. You can share the up-to-date list of medications, reports, or allergies. If you are tracking blood pressure, blood glucose, or weight at home, then you can easily share the latest information with your doctor. Such up-to-date information can help the doctors in improving the quality of care.  With such readily available information, you also reduce or eliminate duplicate tests, and receive faster and safer treatment.

3. Be Better Prepared for Medical Emergencies

In case of emergencies, it is important that the doctors know your previous medical history, the medicines or foods you are allergic to, your current medications and dosages, immunization records, a record of your surgical procedures, results of your recent medical tests and even emergency medical contacts etc.  During a crisis, it can get difficult to remember such important information and easily accessible PHR can be life-saving in such situations.

4. Chronic Health Management

Living each day with chronic ailments or medical conditions like blood pressure, obesity, depression, anxiety, or diabetes, is very difficult to deal with. There are many things which need to be done to properly track patterns and manage these conditions. PHR apps which can assist you in keeping track of medications, appointments, readings etc. can be very beneficial.

5. Set and Achieve your Fitness Goals

PHR apps help you track your activity, fitness activity, weight, diet, set goals, and track progress. One can easily monitor such information through interactive graphs and visualizations and keep track of the progress. This kind of self-motivation helps individuals in doing the right changes in the diet and activity to get the desired results.

Technology is undoubtedly bringing in a paradigm shift in the healthcare space – gone are the days when patient data and doctors notes were residing in silos at multiple, difficult to access places. Consumers today are looking to have complete information about their health data on their mobile devices with an option to share it with doctors as per the need.