How Technology Can Promise You a Long, Healthy Life Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning can transform the traditional, reactive approach to healthcare into a more proactive one
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Imagine a device or system that employs an advanced form of Artificial Intelligence to identify and treat diseases before they even appear. Sounds something straight out of ascience fiction novel or movie, doesn't it? While we may be decades away from developing such a technology, our healthcare systems barely employ the vast amount of technology that already exists. Nearly every other industry across the globe has adopted technology and digitisation and has been benefitted immensely. However, the healthcare industry in most parts of the worldstill seems to be stuck in the 20th century.
Limitations of Healthcare Industry
Medical sciences, too, have made great strides, making it possible to successfully treat several life-threatening diseases which earlier were untreatable. However, the limitations of our healthcare delivery system make it almost impossible for the average person to avail these services in a convenient and affordable manner.
India's healthcare system is plagued by problems like inaccessibility to hospitals in the rural areas, low doctor-to-patient ratio and extremely high out-of-pocket expenses for patients.The key to finding a solution to this problem lies in effectively integrating modern technologies with healthcare delivery to enable enhanced patient engagement through digital platforms.
Leveraging Technology in Healthcare
Technology can play a pivotal role in adding value to healthcare delivery in the country, by assisting providers to significantly enhance their performance and eliminate inconsistency in information and services. Following are some of the key areas where technology can be applied for a macro-impact:
- Electronic Health Records (EHR):
What an EHR does is record patient information securely and keeps it confidential. The information can be accessed easily with the patient's permission by healthcare providers to identify and provide the right care as per their medical history.
EHRs are system and device agnostic, creating a centralised data repository for patients and healthcare providers to access anytime, anywhere. The doctor or specialist can access a patient's EHR to administer the right treatment or procedures based on a thorough assessment of their medical history. This reduces the chance of errors, and avoids the need for unnecessary tests.
- Data and Analytics:
Data-driven healthcare services can help providers offer highly personalized care to patients by collecting data from various sources such as hospitals, ambulance services, wellness centres, referral networks, labs and imaging centres.
Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning can transform the traditional, reactive approach to healthcare into a more proactive one.
Applying predictive analytics in patient care can have several positive implications for the patient and help save lives, making it a critical and essential requirement for the overall healthcare system. For example, Predictive Analytics can help hospital systems identify patients with chronic diseases and in severe conditions, and provide preventive or curative treatment accordingly.
- Cloud Storage:
With more data being generated through various digital media, storing and accessing relevant healthcare information becomes critical in providing the right care.
Hence, recording information physically is simply out of the question since it is highly inconvenient and expensive. Additionally, cloud-based storage allows healthcare providers and other related services such as insurance to easily share information. A centralized data storage is also useful in applying predictive algorithms to the data for diagnostic or insurance purposes.
- M-health (Mobile Health), Telemedicine and Video Consultation:
Telemedicine and mobile healthcare services are growing rapidly with several consumer-centric products available today. They have proven to be highly effective tools for making diagnostics and non-critical medical assistance easier and less time consuming for both doctors as well as patients.
Telemedicine has also proven to be extremely cost-efficient for patients, helping to reduce the hospital stay period and chances of complications. Healthcare-based mobile applications allow individuals to interact directly with doctors online anytime, manage and track doctor appointments, medication schedules, check diagnosis and results from tests such CT scans, MRIs, etc. with a comprehensive view.
Doctors, specialists, and medical practitioners must also adopt video consultationsfor quicker and convenient diagnostics. More than convenience, video consultation enables patients to consult doctors and specialist located across the globe for their opinion on certain conditions that local doctors may not be as well acquainted with.
While there is considerable need to develop new technologies in medical practices, there is as great a necessity to leverage technology through these existing tools to improve all stages ofpatient care. The classic model of healthcare delivery must give way to a modern care-anywhere model. Such a model, built by integrating tele-medicine, m-healthcare and video can lead to greater engagement with patients, while facilitating access to both emergency and non-emergency assistance anytime, anywhere, in a simple and affordable manner.