Dr. Mamta Mittal is the Founder & Chairperson of Seniors First, India’s premium online marketplace for senior-care tools, services, and products. Dr. Mamta conceptualized Seniors First, which has transformed the lives of seniors through its initiatives. She completed a Healthcare management degree and traveled across many countries to closely understand the advanced system of senior care there. Upon her return, she realized the gap in the elderly care sector in India, and created an innovative and extraordinary blend of positive engagement, entertainment and e-commerce platform providing 360-degree care to the seniors.
As the outbreak of Covid-19 wreaked havoc on us and disrupted all sectors of the economy, digitization became essential for businesses to remain afloat. And in the healthcare sector, which has been fighting the crisis from the frontlines, there has been an increased adoption of the digital technologies.
New-age technologies like AI-enabled medical devices, telemedicine, virtual reality (VR) and blockchain electronic health records are some of the substantive examples of how technology is leading to the widespread acceptance of digital services within the healthcare ecosystem. It is further reshaping our interactions with healthcare professionals, ways our data is shared with them, and how decisions are taken about treatment plans and subsequent outcomes. Innovation is key here with the primary goal being streamlining medical professional’s work, optimizing internal systems, enhancing patient health outcomes, lowering costs for consumers and reducing human errors.
Though digital strategies have made considerable inroads in healthcare, there is still immense scope for technologies to make headway in providing superior medical services.
Current State of Digital Transformation in Healthcare
Digital transformation within healthcare is a step towards building patient-focused approach in medical care. This will enable hospital administrations and clinics to streamline operations, understand patients’ needs, offer a superior user experience, and build loyalty and trust. Moreover, collecting data and extracting insights from it is an exercise that will prove valuable in the long run.
Many innovative solutions have come up that are transforming how patients interact with healthcare professionals. Here are the major ones:
Right from searching for a doctor to scheduling a virtual appointment with a physician and communicating with them over a video call, teleconsulting solutions have provided people with access to healthcare professionals on demand. One of the most important examples of telehealth technology is the ability to hold virtual appointments between doctors and their patients. This is especially useful in remote or rural areas where healthcare access is limited. Due to teleconsultations, patients in these areas can easily communicate with their physicians.
Also, patients facing mobility issues can use telemedicine for interacting with health professionals and receiving timely medical advice. Telemedicine technology can also prove beneficial for managing patients who are at high risk. It also enables health professionals to keep a track of the patient’s vitals and activities remotely via wearable devices and IoT-powered health sensors.
- Big Data in Healthcare
Big Data is changing how we analyze, use and manage data in every industry. And healthcare is where it can be employed to its fullest potential to avoid preventable diseases and illnesses, reduce costs of treatment, improve the quality of life and even forecast the outbreak of epidemics.The valuable insights gathered from the data available helps provide better care.
Big Data’s predictive analysis enables hospitals and clinics to estimate the future admission rates, which helps with proper staffing. With the right figures available, hospitals and medical facilities can allocate adequate staff to handle patients. This not only saves money but even cuts down on the emergency room waiting time when a facility is understaffed.
Real-time alerts are another crucial usage of big data analytics in the healthcare landscape. Hospitals and healthcare professionals can analyze medical data on-the-spot and offer them advice on how to make informed decisions about treating patients. The wearable devices are used for collecting patient’s health data continuously and upload it on the cloud. For instance, if a patient’s blood pressure shoots up, the system sends a real-time signal to the doctor who can then act to lower the rate. It also helps eliminate the possibilities of human errors in prescribing the right medication or a different medication as big data enables analyzing prescribed medicine and user data.
- Virtual Reality
Virtual reality (VR) technology uses the computer-generated simulation of a 3-dimensional image or environment which enables a person to watch, hear and interact using a special equipment, such as, headsets.
The technology helps create a simulated environment where users can immerse themselves in. Unlike the conventional user interfaces, VR has the potential to take users inside an immersive virtual experience instead of merely displaying a screen. VR in healthcare can also help reduce pain during a treatment and make physical therapy for patients more enjoyable by engaging them in a simulated environment.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI simplifies the lives of healthcare providers, patients and hospital admins by automating tasks which are otherwise performed by humans at a fraction of the cost incurred and in much less amount of time. From driving robots that assist in surgeries to finding links between genetic codes, conducting risk assessment, and surveying for chronic diseases, AI is reinventing and revolutionising modern healthcare via machines which can understand, predict, act and even learn.
Patients are quickly becoming familiar with AI-based chatbots and virtual health assistants. Chatbots are capable of performing roles ranging from customer service representatives to therapists. AI is also leaving its mark in areas like precision medicine, drug discovery, medical imaging and genomics.
- Blockchain Technology
Blockchain is a digitized ledger or a computerized database of consumer transactions. It is shared across a network of computers and enables customers to exchange their financial information securely with suppliers, without the need of a third-party intervention, such as a bank.
In healthcare, blockchain is proving to be effective for preventing data breaches, cutting costs and improving the accuracy of stored medical records. It is, thus, helping health officials and experts solve the problem of fragmented medical records. An electronic health record (EHR) basically refers to the digital version of a patient’s medical chart and usually includes everything from their medical history and previous diagnoses, to ideal treatment plans, dates of immunization, and test results.
In a nutshell, digital transformation is an ongoing process with new trends rising everyday in the healthcare industry. Also, apart from these technologies making headway, the onset of 5G will truly bring health in the palm of our hand. Hence, as wireless technology becomes more sophisticated, so will the delivery of medical care in the coming times.