Technology is shaping the future of many industries, including healthcare. Considered a driving force behind major improvements in the sector, it was thoroughly examined in a webinar led by renowned policymaker, speaker and author Professor Rajendra Pratap Gupta. Captured in our latest Practo Connect chapter – a series exclusively for doctors, by doctors – it explored the role of technology in healthcare and why professionals in this sector must be cognizant of it.
“One of the most tangible ways to understand its impact is by comparing the outcome of a traditional method and a technology-based approach,” started Prof Gupta, adding “When it comes to measuring the health of your heart, conventional methods will give you 56% accuracy compared to 90% if you choose Artificial Intelligence. Which one will you – or your patients – choose?”
Distilled in his latest book – Digital Health – Truly Transformational – he spoke about how the way people expect and access healthcare has changed over the last few years. Accelerated by the pandemic, technology has led to improved care and efficiency today.
Changing healthcare ecosystem
During the webinar, Prof Gupta said that all clinicians must internalize the fact that the entire healthcare ecosystem is changing, urging them to adopt digital tools as soon as possible.
“When the entire ecosystem is changing, you cannot afford a status quo, else you will be dropped out of the orbit,” he said. “The biggest opportunity today is in transitioning to digital healthcare, which is essentially about our forward-thinking mindset, and the agility to catch up with the changing needs of time and increasing demands of careseekers,” he added.
Citing excerpts from his book, Prof Gupta said that one out of five patients with a smartphone have at least one healthcare app on their phone. What is more, even if many people search the internet for medical information, they often end up changing their decision based on online consultations with a qualified doctor.
“For them, the internet is a vehicle to augment information and not circumvent health professionals,” says Prof Gupta. “Given the doctor patient ratio in India, it’s tough to spend time with patients. In such a scenario, patients can use technological resources to get the information and approach doctors with all the right questions,” he added.
Today, most major tech companies in the world – including Apple, Google and Microsoft – are delving into innovative healthcare solutions. By recognizing that healthcare is one of the most important fields that AI is going to transform, they are using their influence and resources to march ahead. These developments will also evolve the role of a doctor, opening up a future full of phenomenal opportunities for them.
Digital transformation in healthcare
Every clinician has plenty of data on the patient they are treating. According to Prof Gupta, doctors must know how to have data in the right form, and if so, if they are using it in an optimal way. In a 127 nationwide study between April and June 2020, 83% respondents said they are comfortable using technology, with many seeking healthcare online across various mediums. This is a clear indication of the direction healthcare is heading towards.
“In the same study, 74% respondents strongly felt that technology is the future of healthcare,” said Prof Gupta, adding that many clinicians at the peak of COVID-19 last year felt that teleconsultation, in particular, served the needs of both care-givers and care-seekers, with several admitting that patients sought their advice using digital tools during long periods of lockdown.
From 10% pre-pandemic to 80% during the first COVID-19 wave, the shift in digital healthcare adoption has been astounding. But is it going to last?
In another study conducted in October 2020 across 30 nations, Prof Gupta got an important insight into the future plans of clinicians with respect to digital consultations. As per the findings of the study, most respondents plan to adopt digital healthcare in their practices gradually, with many expressing interest in doing both online and in-person consultations, with some showing the willingness to adopt digital healthcare immediately.
What innovation in healthcare means for doctors
There is growing evidence that indicates that the use of digital tools in daily practice increases a doctor’s ROI, helps them have better control over their practice, augments patient engagement and satisfaction.
“This can be condensed into four areas where impact is felt the greatest, which are, diagnostic ability, productivity, patient doctor communication and doctor doctor communication,” summarizes Prof Gupta. “This leads to better outcomes, saves time and reduces cost of care delivery, medication errors and other adverse events,” he added.
Digital consultation and remote monitoring is leading to shared decision making, giving patients the choice and information to take charge of their well-being and manage their health conditions better. In that sense, technology has become a big enabler in the patient and clinician interface, leading to better compliance and improved outcomes.
“India is heading towards a digital healthcare ecosystem through extensive deployment of digital tools, integrated health information systems, federated health information exchange, increased use of smartphones, and various initiatives on teleconsultation,” said Prof Gupta. “The Indian government has been actively pushing for it in an effort to make healthcare more efficient, effective and outcome-driven,” he added.
Missed the webinar? Watch the full recorded session here. You can also buy a copy of Professor Rajendra Pratap Gupta’s latest book Digital Health – Truly Transformational at a discount by using this coupon code: 4V9H6G2M
Join us every month as we partner with leading industry and doctor associations for our educational webinar series, Practo Connect. Watch this, as well as previous webinars, here.