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Automation and Smart Models in Healthcare: An Opportunity for Entrepreneurial Visions What could automation and smart models do to our healthcare system?

By Rahul R

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Omega Healthcare

With entrepreneurship no longer restricted to individuals starting businesses to make money for the current as well as future generations, today's stuff is definitely about developing the right smart solutions that could potentially go a long way in addressing a multitude of societal issues.

Both entrepreneurial as well technology experts believe that smart entrepreneurship has what it takes to provide that "shot in the arm" for a number of sectors; and one domain that is believed be experts to derive substantial benefit is healthcare in India.

With a number of healthcare startups having already disrupted the Indian scheme of things as far as developing smart solutions is concerned, Entrepreneur India in a bid to analyze the smart aspects here interacted with Gururaja Yellapur who is Vice-President of Software and Product Development at Omega Healthcare Management Services.

Yellapur threw light on an important aspect that could be termed as the by-product of smart entrepreneurship in healthcare; Automation.

Level of Automation is important – Could be a time saver if done properly

Yellapur believes that with optimal levels of automation, vital tasks such as basic clinical jobs, routine back office activities, and even predictive analysis can be taken care of without requiring too much manual intervention; thereby saving time and enabling the caregivers to focus on their core jobs.

Also, with oceans of data generated in the healthcare sector every day, automation can help achieve tracking of patient data through the entire journey of care right from the time when an appointment is initially set up.

"The use of Electronic Health Records (EHRs) helps maintain a consolidated report of a patient's health that can be referred to by hospitals and caregivers without any physical movement of the actual reports. It opens up the possibility of a seamless continuation in caregiving during cases when a new doctor or nurse has to step in and provide the services," states Yellapur to Entrepreneur India.

He informs that with automation, the insurance providers and hospitals can also help strategize their revenue management tremendously.

This means that many "cumbersome" processes such as medical coding, charge posting, cross checking billing information, checking status of claims, and process payments could become hassle-free.

Human intervention is reduced; thereby increasing accuracy and efficiency of many routine tasks and helping resource optimization as well.

Early detection of disorders – a potential focal point for healthcare entrepreneurs to develop models

With automation now known to represent a key opportunity, it only becomes natural to get to know if smart models could be developed (by entrepreneurs) so as to achieve early detection and diagnosis of certain disorders which left untreated could lead to life-threatening consequences.

"Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation have a far reaching impact in hard-to-reach, remote sections of the country where availability of high-quality medical equipment and qualified personnel is very scarce, making the delivery of even basic health care very challenging," states Yellapur.

He also adds that, with smart automation, technicians and doctors could upload certain basic test data from a portable device to the cloud; and AI could them run a basic diagnosis of many common conditions, thus extending the reach of last mile care without compromising on the quality of diagnosis. This enables timely detection and treatment of ailments and could potentially turn out to be a life saver.

Such analytics could also help in chronic disease management. It could potentially help hospitals and governments study the health of a particular set of population, identify patterns and prevent the outbreak of any chronic disease while taking preventive measures.

With predictive analytics being the trend setter, Yellapur informs that this has been helping both care givers as well as insurance companies to launch wellness initiatives to help people address their health concerns in a proactive manner, rather than the reactive approach traditionally used by them.

"As preventive actions are usually cheaper than the reactive treatments, it is helping both the patients and insurance companies to save money and have better care," he explains.

Smartness of entrepreneurs is the key to developing models

Developing data-driven models for healthcare is only one part of a process which is completed only when vital aspects viz security and robustness are implemented internally.

"Smart entrepreneurs have a lot to offer and have much less baggage compared to established players. As a result they can be more open to opportunities and come up with newer methods to fill nagging gaps in healthcare service delivery," adds Yellapur.

However, he is also quick to point out that entrepreneurs should invest time and effort in order to make models robust and secure.

"If entrepreneurs focus only on the concept or idea and implement it, but do not worry about addressing the practical challenges such as security, privacy or fitment of their solution into the existing ecosystem, they will end up being idea generators; but risk losing out to other savvy competitors who address the solution in the larger context of the entire ecosystem," cautions Yellapur.

Security of data-driven models, powered by automation, is vital

"While automation enhances the productivity of an organization, they are vulnerable to many threats such as bugs, breaches and malware," states Yellapur.

These threats require intuitive combating and can be done by providing, limited access to personal health information (PHI) and personally identifiable information (PII) data only to a particular set of users based on their need to know; using robust access control policies.

The second intuitive step is to ensure that data transmission takes place securely whilst implementing HIPAA and HITRUST compliance (by organizations).

"Healthcare automations and solutions developed on the foundation of a robust security architecture can actually both be beneficial for the caregivers and care receivers and also protect sensitive data more effectively," says Yellapur.

Automation makes the future exciting

Automation lets entrepreneurs add an intuitive and personal touch to their models. Picture this, an elderly person living in a remote village having a chronic disease is being treated by a specialist doctor from a nearby city about eighty kilometres away.

Vitals of the patient are tracked by a mobile phone or a small, non-intrusive device and feed this information to the specialist doctor in the nearby city. In case the patient's condition worsens, the system alerts the doctor about the change, and the doctor adjusts the dosage and treatment accordingly. The local nurse or primary care doctor is communicated of the change in treatment.

This local nurse visits the patient and advises him/her of the new treatment and delivers the necessary medicines. Now, the patient is in a win-win situation as the taxing weekly checkup is eliminated whilst ensuring timely medical attention.. With such smart approaches, doctors also get to devote more time to see more patients who could have pressing medical needs.

"While realizing such a vision may be quite some time away, there can be so many incremental changes, improvements that can be brought to reality in the present moment," believes Yellapur.

"The potential for automation in the healthcare industry and for transformation is immense. Sky is only the limit," signs-off Yellapur.

Rahul R

Former Staff

Rahul R is a media professional with over 6 years of experience. Prior to Entrepreneur India, Rahul was a Senior Technical Journalist at EFY digital magazine. 
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