The healthcare system in India underwent several changes due to the COVID-19 outbreak. One of those significant changes was a rapid rise in demands for online doctor consultations and the adaptation of telemedicine.
To examine this digital evolution and future possibilities in tech-enabled ENT and Gynecology, we recently conducted the 22nd edition of Practo Connect webinar. Meant exclusively for doctors and healthcare professionals, it was led by Dr Lavanya Kiran, Gynecologist and Obstetrician, and Dr Rajesh Kr Bhardwaj, Otorhinolaryngologist.
Healthcare of tomorrow
Driven by the need to negate the risk of COVID-19 transmission, digital healthcare practices like online appointment booking and virtual consultations were widely accepted and adopted during the pandemic; and this will continue to grow. In fact, a report by the Healthcare Information and Management System Society (HIMSS) states that investment in digital healthcare tools will grow by 80% in the next five years.
And with the rising digitalization of healthcare solutions and the use of remote patient monitoring devices, digital healthcare platforms are poised to have a significant impact even in remote areas of the country.
Dr Rajesh Kr Bhardwaj, Otorhinolaryngologist
Read More: Understanding COVID-19-related mental health issues among doctors and patients
Talking about telemedicine and the digital future of ENT, Dr Bhardwaj said, “During the pandemic, most of us were practising telemedicine, and Practo offered us a wonderful telemedicine platform. There were certain strictures passed against doctors for practising telemedicine in the past, but the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare(MoHFW) brought in guidelines and frameworks in March 2020, under which the doctors could provide teleconsultations in a legal manner.”
Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help determine potential diagnoses and decide the best treatment plan for a specific patient.
According to the official journal of the Turkish Society of Otorhinolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery, in laryngology, T1a glottic cancers and other pathologies of the vocal cord can be diagnosed with almost 100% accuracy when AI programs are used together with voice analysis and videostroboscopy images. AI can also provide substantial guidance to physicians in challenging decisions, complex diagnoses, and treatments.
Another area of innovation, as pointed out by Dr Kiran, is health analytics. “Health tech companies are creating algorithms that will predict future outcomes based on family history and patient parameters. This will help doctors easily identify a multitude of risk factors early.”
While the progress with AI is inevitable, the vital thing to remember is that clinicians will be an integral part of this evolution, assisting the progress of AI and managing the outcomes.
Dr Lavanya Kiran, Gynecologist and Obstetrician
Read more: Understanding legal complications in virtual and in-person healthcare delivery in India
The future of medicine
On average, a gynecologist sees around 30-60 patients a day (even more in the government hospitals) and being on a digital healthcare platform can expedite the consultation process without impeding the quality of treatment. Dr Kiran emphasized the need for a paper-free digital future where doctors can access the data of multiple patients through the ease of app usage, remote monitoring devices, and cloud data.
Telemedicine is vital for a country like India because of the woeful state of our health infrastructure. During the pandemic, the Indian population didn’t have access to proper healthcare. We are a resource-deficient country with an inadequate health infrastructure. With virtual healthcare, we can serve remotely located people by providing them access to healthcare professionals, virtually.
And supplementing our tech-based medical advancements, 5G is expected to be rolled out by mid 2022 in India. This cutting-edge technology will enable remote robotic surgeries, quick transmission of large imaging files and expand the telemedicine services with reliable, real-time remote monitoring.
“5G will support the healthcare IT infrastructure as remote clinicians and telemedicine extend the reach of an organisation beyond hospital premises”, says Dr Bhardwaj.
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. We would also love to hear from you! Do share your feedback with us.