Telemedicine, electronic medical records, RFID systems… patient care has improved tremendously

Shikha was diagnosed with diabetes at the young age of 35 in 2005. Every time she visited the diabetologist for treatment, she had to carry all her prescriptions and reports from the previous visit. Not that it really bothered her, but she was always worried that some vital information with respect to her condition or line of treatment may have been missed out.

For simple ailments like infection and fever, it is not really a tedious job. But when there is a chronic disease, you as a patient have to constantly carry out tests and keep working along with your physician on an updated therapeutic regimen to achieve better treatment outcomes. In such a case, if any report is lost or if we forget to take it, then it becomes difficult for a doctor to diagnose and sometimes prescribe accordingly. There is also this general belief among us as patients that we do not need to really go for medical treatment unless it ends up as an emergency situation. This is probably because we know and feel that hospital procedures are too complicated and time consuming.

Back in 2007, Jayalakshmiwas suffering from liver cancer. The whole procedure to find out that she had cancer took almost three months because of the tests and technology used then and the delay led to loss of life as there was very little time to treat after the diagnosis. After those gruelling three months her family members had huge files with all test reports which had to be carried every time they visited the hospital.

Can there be a way out in terms of handling this patient-related information? Patient data needs to be concise, precise and accurate while also being confidential. How can one ensure timeliness, speed of retrieval and accuracy at the same time?

Today, technology has made things so simple that there is no need to carry anything as there are patient record systems in place which store all the information. Let us look at some of the major benefits as seen in the past decade:

No more waiting lines, there are appointment systems in place and people can take appointments by a phone call or by online form.

Diagnosis has improved and it will take a maximum of 24 hours to get the results.

Treatments have improved and there is technology to diagnose any kind of disease.

There is no need for patients to travel in search of multispecialty hospitals because of the concept of telemedicine.

Electronic medical record systems are in place where the patient data is stored online and their history is maintained.

Reduction of medical errors with help of RFID systems and artificial intelligence.

Success rate of surgeries has increased with improved medical devices and their in-built technology.

Mobile technology has made accessibility easier for both providers and patients.

Optimised methods for admission and discharge have reduced the waiting time of patients.

Backbone

Technology plays an important role in pharmaceutical, medical device and insurance sectors and has helped hospitals in providing best patient care. Emerging trends in biotechnology, clinical trials, medical devices, medical tourism, and telemedicine are the backbone of the health industry in providing managed care to patients. Changes like these are slowly helping transform the perception and attitude of patients when it comes to quality of healthcare delivery in hospitals/clinics. The future will see many more technological innovations that can help healthcare delivery to become faster, easier and more effective.

(Rashmi is a student at the Goa Institute of Management, Ribandar, and Meena Parulekar is a professor in GIM healthcare management programme)