Connected Devices

The new panacea?

Gurrit K Sethi,  CEO, Canta Health, India

As a patient, today, the expectation from the provider is five fold – record maintenance, secure information transmission, 24X7 support, Interaction with provider with minimal physical presence necessity, regular analysis of symptoms, treatments and outcomes. Overall a continuum of care program that holistically looks at one’s health chart and not just deals with sporadic health issues. All of this is conceivable today with technology revolution in healthcare. Today technology can bridge the gaps in the traditional treatment methodology - giving what the patients want and simultaneously fulfilling the physician requirements to better health outcomes. Connected devices promise to be the solution in conjunction with analytical tools that can preempt and aid better the comprehensive results and health scores.

Emergence of connected health has changed the way healthcare is delivered to patients today – extending treatment from an in-patient setting to continuing care outside hospitals and clinics. Having worked for start-ups in spaces like diabetic clinics and standalone dialysis centres, I have been a direct witness to this transformation. The advent of chronic life style diseases has also accentuated this need along with other factors. And what’s more, the general populace has greatly benefitted from this!

Innovation and IT makeover are opening up immense possibilities in healthcare…

Reducing Cost of Care

Innovation inprocesses has helped in improving standards of care while reducing cost. On the other hand, IT has helped by enabling automation. A significant example for this combination is analytics on data collected by electronic health records that aids superior treatment.

IT has also enabled information sharing which has aided therapy vs cost comparisons and assessments of clinical outcomes which, accordingly, has initiated additional research. The resulting outcome of all these innovations and improvements has translated into one of the biggest value proposition for the end consumer – increase in transparency for the patient. Health IT tools are increasingly finding their place in consumer’s life, and by including the patient in their own care, the circle of medical care is led to completion.

Availability of Care in Remote Areas

Today, one does not have to travel to a provider location as care is available at one’s doorstep. With the click of a button or on one’s screens, one can avail and schedule care as desired. Both the method and the medium of care have been revolutionised through innovation and technology. We have options of online consultations with the best doctors, for second opinion in case we wish to double check, online pharmacies, connected diagnostic devices, mobile apps to track health changes… so on and so forth.

These particular range of ideas and innovations have undeniably changed the way people live,even in the remotest regions. Small remote hospitals have also learnt to thrive on connected ICUs - overcoming the challenge of finding medical talent in such locations.

Round the Clock Care

A few years ago, 24/7 access to homecare, geriatric care, nursing care, urgent care was merel ya concept, but today, this is a clear reality. These ideas, aided by the right technology, have made life easy and convenient for many of us.

Continuum of Care

Today, we need not limit ourselves to the walls of a hospital. Whether in a chronic or acute state of illness/injury or in need of generic geriatric care, we can choose the medium of care for long term. Dialysis need not be done only at the hospital, it can be a better experience in a local and pleasant day care setting or even at home today.

Having started a few years ago, the industry is still evolving. Starting with telemedicine, at a very basic level and video conferencing with doctors from remote locations, which is the earliest version, I witnessed while heading a small specialty boutique hospital, to connected devices today, unceasing innovation has helped march these possibilities forward. Led by the need of providing care at lesser cost, with accessibility everywhere and every time – the ease and comfort of these possibilities is continuously being lapped up by consumers and investors alike.

As patients / providers and incumbents of support from the industry of the care chain, we are looking forward to a world where we have care at affordable levels, in the comfort of whichever zone we are in… where all of our stakeholders can derive value from each other’s experience, while working with each other in an environment of trust and regulatory comfort.

And this is possible with:

• Proactive use of analytical tools
• Clinical analytics and decision support
• Enable patient education
• Interoperability support

Healthcare providers want to get better clinical outcomes for their patients through best treatment methodologies. This further boosts their own practice’s health. The EHRs and EMRs, with the repository of the physician data, offer boundless opportunities when supported with real time analytics and benchmarking. This not just supports clinical but also expands to other areas like financial forecasting and more importantly operational trends.

Now what does the patient want? We as patients also look for great clinical outcomes, a better health risk score and a rewarding seamless experience on our trips to care providers. And this experience is what a physician looks to build, for improving practice reputation, hence leading to realisations of financial and other related outcomes.

To achieve this objective of churning better results, what we need is the latent data from the practice’s data warehouse.

The recent proliferation of performance indicators and clinical quality metrics has been the reason of multiple sleepless nights for the stakeholders, because of the time and effort it takes to report on them. An answer has emerged in analytics which has demonstrated a noteworthy contribution towards reduction in healthcare spending, coordinating care across disparate systems and improvement in clinical research outcomes. This has led and continues to lead the industry growth.

Together, hospital and ambulatory providers have a great deal of room to grow by leveraging performance benchmarking tools for quality improvements that may translate into advancing healthcare metrics as well as patient experience.

Today, population health is fast becoming the foundational aspect of accountable care. If all healthcare organisations and industry stakeholders pour their resources into creating and supporting technology tools, we can all embrace this new way of thinking. This will in turn:

• Reduce the risk of medication errors
• Provide the entire care team with consistent, reliable information
• Improve efficiency and patient throughput
• Enhance accessibility:  All information at one place.

Talking of need for research, this alone can propel crucial cost reduction, bettering clinical outcomes and healthier populace. While similar needs of other industries has been met by advanced analytics techniques, looking at the landscape of healthcare, the adoption and use of such techniques varies across different segments. While tertiary care organisations have recognised the value and adopted these to find solutions to various problems, and quickly so, also on the brink of replacing trials, ambulatory care lags far behind. Having seen the state of clinical trials and how they are conducted leaves a lot to be desired – personally to me a real time data-based solution can help us overcome a lot of these travails to success.

Fact is, that as we look up to population health to solve these grave problems for us, there is a great need to bring these tools into the ambulatory care segment as well.

To reach some wholesome solutions, we need to conjoin all these areas into a consolidated database as well as share insights from these with other stakeholders of the industry to elevate the value in the care chain.

In All

Technology has proven to be a great enabler in this time and space. A lot has been done in other industries for many decades and healthcare is now catching up finally. We have seen the results in large institutes and we now need to let the elixir flow into the smaller etches of the industry as well.

Doing this will not only bring better visibility to what services and how they are delivered but also insight into performance and profitability both on the financial and clinical side. This will bring a lot of value to the struggling ambulatory care businesses of different sizes and different verticals within healthcare. And then expand this and the learnings across verticals of healthcare to see the magic happen.

Having moved from being a service provider to support services to solution development – it’s a heady feeling to see the growth happen real time and being able to enable it.

-- Issue 35 --

Author Bio

Gurrit K Sethi

Gurrit K Sethi, CEO of Canta Health, started her career from the shop floor working her way up to lead and set up different healthcare businesses. In her words, her significant achievements have been in bringing to life different small startups signifying a change in the Indian healthcare scenarios, as the opportunity paved the way along the healthcare growth curve in the country. With more than 16 years in healthcare under her belt, across different healthcare verticals, she had carried transformational changes in the companies she has lead, four of those being early stage startups in the healthcare segment. Gurrit is an avid traveler and voracious reader of varied genres, attributes which she says, provide her with incisive insights about people and what drives them.

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