Adoption of digital tools: Key to improving patient care

Going by the tremendous tailwinds generated by the pandemic, both demand and supply of digital healthcare is set to rise very soon.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the functioning of healthcare systems across the globe. Healthcare providers worked round-the-clock to solve challenging issues that the industry has never encountered. It made the industry re-explore designs of mission-critical devices, ramp up bed capacity and provide essential equipment and resources to clinicians, frontline workers and patients. In this process, the industry has sought the help of technology and other sources to handle the disruption.

Over the past decade, the healthcare industry has been gradually turning towards digitalisation. The pace of this change has been moderate, especially in India, where the traditional model of healthcare was always preferred. But the global pandemic of 2020 pitched an unprecedented challenge on the healthcare industry, compelling the providers to accelerate the digital and technology-driven transformation and adopt innovative healthcare services to reach out to the patients in the trying times.

Virtual healthcare was one of the biggest advancements Indian healthcare industry made last year. Due to stringent lockdown and COVID restrictions, OPDs, across the country, were suspended. Patients couldn’t physically visit the doctors for any kind of consultation, be it preventive or curative. In order to serve the patients and provide them the care they needed, all healthcare providers including CARE Hospitals switched from offline to online mode, overnight. The adoption was meteoric and almost all primary and specialist care consultations were done by our doctors via video and phone calls.

To reduce the burden of hospitals and frontline healthcare workers amid COVID, CARE Hospitals extended virtual health services to COVID positive patients in the form of Home Suraksha Plan – a COVID home care plan that offered daily remote monitoring of home isolation patients or those displaying mild symptoms of corona virus. Thousands of patients have opted for this Home Suraksha Plan since its inception. In addition to remote monitoring, CARE Hospitals introduced home health services, which offered delivery of medicines and collection of lab samples at the comfort of one’s home. We also extensively used tele-radiology services for decreasing report turnaround time and improving service levels to overcome lockdown constraints.

Going by the tremendous tailwinds generated by the pandemic, both demand and supply of digital healthcare will benefit in the days ahead. We saw an incredible acceptance not only by the patients, but also healthcare workers and consultants as it provides greater convenience, flexibility, cost sustainability and operational efficiency. Undoubtedly, tech-enabled healthcare solutions and systems such as artificial intelligence, data analytics, healthcare automation and robotics would help India in addressing many of its current challenges. As this digital transformation gathers pace, CARE Hospitals will continue be at the forefront in deploying the latest tech tools for greater patient safety and satisfaction levels, ensuring a robust healthcare system.

Apart from digitalisation, COVID-19 also made us realise that when it comes to a pandemic-level crisis, the healthcare systems around the world are not well-prepared. We saw the extent of pressure COVID mounted on the hospitals and healthcare staff. But the system’s resilience and the way we swiftly countered the deficiencies, demonstrated our capacity to handle the crisis. Even at CARE Hospitals, our hospital administration, across centres, had promptly put up appropriate protocols in place and reconfigured to offer the best possible care through enhanced prevention mechanism.

The future calls for stricter policies and preparedness for another outbreak of this measure, so that hospitals are not caught off guard.

This article is authored by Jasdeep Singh, Group CEO, CARE Hospitals, India

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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