Paperless and modern technology can ensure quality, smooth operation of India's health care system

With an array of solutions available for the healthcare organizations, it is only a matter of taking the first step in the right direction for the other pieces to fall in place.

In a bid to be more developed, India is now swiftly moving towards advanced healthcare services for its citizens. Supported by the government, the national focus is to elevate India’s existing healthcare structure. However, the responsibility of the shift depends on how prepared the healthcare organisations are to adopt advanced technologies.

Globally, healthcare processes have seen a massive shift from being treatment-based methodology to outcomes-based approach. Although it may take India a substantial period of time to convert healthcare into one that is outcome-based, the fact is that there is an immense scope to improve the existing infrastructures and services. Indian healthcare organisations can look at a three-step action plan to align themselves with the necessary healthcare instrumentality being devised globally.

The national focus should be elevating India’s existing healthcare structure.

The national focus should be elevating India’s existing healthcare structure.

The foremost of these steps should be to create an interoperable framework that allows market forces to drive improvements and changes. This would ensure that the healthcare system does not gravitate towards holding patient’s hostage to the care they need, when they need, where they need and who from they need.

Electronic Health Records 

To make all of its health records digital, India will have to go through the colossal task of migrating from paper-based records into electronic/digital health records as the first step towards modernizing healthcare. It has been witnessed in the past, that the migration of historical and legacy city land records along with government registries to electronic records is the first step to becoming truly digital. Today all of these transactions are recorded electronically, thanks to that initial step.

The purpose of converting healthcare records is not only to have better accessibility to these records but also to improve the quality of healthcare. EHRs allow us to view the history of our health records, transfer them from one caregiver to another, record new care instances, changes in lifestyle and various other indicators. This repository of health data would then enable data mining and analysis to help identify causes of illnesses, care protocols, the spread of infectious diseases etc. It will also help improve the accuracy of diagnosing disease and the quality of care.

Thus it's important for private, public, not for profit and government-run healthcare organizations to consider building a database of health records and carefully considering the standard portability of data, security, ownership, accessibility permissions, etc. 

Introducing sustainable Revenue Cycle Management processes

As healthcare organizations move towards integrating technology for administrative and operational purposes, it would become extremely important to introduce a sustainable revenue cycle management system to the mix. When healthcare organizations are focusing on giving better patient care, they should also focus on a steady income.

India is still in a space where cash transactions are commonplace after services are rendered. However, as the younger urban population move toward insurance cover, the transactions are fast moving into a ‘cashless’ zone. In order for organizations to ensure enhanced revenue realization, the need of the hour is to invest in efficient solutions with the proven delivery record.

A potential strategy is maximizing collection outcomes via improved patient engagement and better clinical documentation. This ties in with the above-mentioned discussion on the need for electronic health records and leads us to the next step in the process of adoption of technology. Whether we agree or not, healthcare cannot be a free service. The people or organizations who provide the healthcare service should be paid for their services and it doesn't matter if the payer is the government, insurance or oneself, healthcare organizations need to be economically viable to operate.

With the urban, young population entering the picture, they prefer going cashless for their transactions.

With the urban, young population entering the picture, they prefer going cashless for their transactions.

Integrated Practice Management Partner

The existing pandemic crisis has a significant impact on the ability of healthcare organizations to navigate the challenges to emerge stronger, additionally, it may be cumbersome for them to achieve the desired results through the existing clinical and non-clinical staff. In such a scenario a strategic decision would be to explore integrated practice management partners that would enable improved financial outcomes, especially in the aftermath of COVID-19. They can focus on care delivery, physician satisfaction and patient safety as the primary objective to bounce back from the crisis.

An advanced partnership could also help organizations to navigate industry changes, competitive pressures, and drive population health outcomes with rich data and analytics. An informed investment in advanced technological infrastructure with an integrated practice management partner would be prudent. As organizations move towards focused improvement an ideal partner would be able to reinforce profitability, scalability, growth, reliability, improving care delivery and physician success. 

From an Indian context, we must be cognizant of the fact that the existing healthcare system needs an extensive overhaul and improvement in the quality of care that is being provided - in both private and government facilities. Currently, the pandemic has provided India with the opportunity to re-examine its existing healthcare systems and realign its strategies to be more conducive to adopt a more modern healthcare system.

With an array of solutions available for healthcare organizations, it is only a matter of taking the first step in the right direction for the other pieces to fall in place. With the definitive insight into what adoption of digitization could bring the Indian healthcare system, it would be wise for the organizations to look at their global counterparts, for best practices and user insight. 

 The author is the Chief Digital Transformation Officer at IKS Health

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