Chennai

‘Technology is a boon for healthcare’

Health Minister C. Vijaya Baskar inaugurates the Sixth International Patient Safety Congress, hosted by Apollo Hospitals, in Chennai on Friday.— Photo: Special Arrangement

Health Minister C. Vijaya Baskar inaugurates the Sixth International Patient Safety Congress, hosted by Apollo Hospitals, in Chennai on Friday.— Photo: Special Arrangement  

But it can never replace the doctor’s touch, says Preetha Reddy of Apollo Hospitals

Using technology to provide quicker health interventions is soon going to become the norm, but one should be vigilant against technology replacing touch, Preetha Reddy, Managing Director, Apollo Hospitals, said.

Speaking to The Hindu on the sidelines of the sixth International Patient Safety Congress, a two-day event hosted by Apollo Hospitals and inaugurated on Friday, Ms. Preetha Reddy said high technology could never replace high touch. For a physician, touch plays and will have to continue to play a key role in patient care, but there have been areas in which technology has been able to help the medical professionals. A number of doctors, dermatologists and cardiologists in particular have taken up tele consults, and consults on ECG and cath lab reports too, she said.

Adam Darkins, vice-president, Medical Affairs and Enterprise Technology Development, Medtronics, USA, was one of the key speakers at the conference.

He outlined the broad advantages of digitalisation: “What it allows is the patient to connect to the healthcare system easily and conveniently in a way that has never been possible before. Its importance in the US is that informed consumers who purchase goods and services and are used to having information about the services begin to do it in the same way for healthcare. Its importance in countries such as India is that we are establishing new healthcare systems that are going to be based on digitalisation.”

Over the last 10 years, Ms. Reddy said the group had come a long way in becoming an IT-enabled institution. “In day-to-day operations we are IT enabled. If you ask if all our hospitals have become 100 per cent paperless, the answer is no, but we are moving to Electronic Medical Records,” she said. “When we get the major hospitals [of the group] on EMR, then various options including cloud-based storage, data capturing and analytics is going to be possible.”

Of course, there are issues that will have to be ironed out, particularly safety concerns of confidential patient information. “This is a concern globally. And we do have systems to address this, but a lot more has to be done. Data protection is an issue; you can always go back and find out who broke in. What you do have to realise is that in an ecosystem where there is so much human interface on a day-to-day basis, there always will be some vulnerability,” she reiterated.

Dr. Darkins added a further element to the mix: “The challenges, as I see, are going to be that, doing things of large scale require processes to support, and those processes have a certain cost and a certain complexity to put in place.” He was clear that otherwise it will limit their expansion. “So the ability to connect people to digital devices is very important. ,” he added.

Ms. Reddy claimed that Apollo Hospitals was globally one of the largest providers of telemedicine and telehealth.

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2020 1:00:55 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/%E2%80%98Technology-is-a-boon-for-healthcare%E2%80%99/article16078950.ece

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