It’s not very uncommon that one gets to hear of the impact of health information technology on health administration and how it has revolutionized patient care on a global scale. A curious mind raises questions like- what exactly does Health Information Technology mean? And how does India fare in HIT vis-à-vis the rest of the world? This article makes a modest attempt to address some of these questions.
In very simple terms, Health information technology (HIT) is another way to describe the comprehensive management of health information across computerized systems and the secure exchange of health information among patients, practitioners, government, quality entities, and insurers.
In addition to providing a higher quality of care, healthcare software saves time and money. By using HIT, the time and effort spent managing daily operations and administrative tasks can be reduced, allowing healthcare organizations to focus more on patient treatment and health. Faster prescriptions, information sharing, reduced paperwork, and better follow-up are just a few examples of how healthcare information systems are helping facilities to become more productive and efficient.
While world over, HIT manifests itself as Medical Practice Management (MPM) software, Electronic Medical Record/ Electronic Health Record (EMR/EHR) software, incorporating features like – Patient Portal, Patient Scheduling, Medical Billing, e Prescribing, Remote Patient Monitoring, Master Patient Index etc., it’s worthwhile to take a look at its status in India.
Recent reports published by organizations such as the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) reveal that India has a mixed system of healthcare consisting of a large number of hospitals run by the central and state governments as well as the private sector. In public healthcare institutions, the usage of ICT is limited to billing and registration. The private sector has a limited form of electronic medical records (EMR) but it has not yet started the exchange of health information to improve quality of care.
Nevertheless, technology advancements in healthcare informatics, hospital information system (HIS), picture archival and communications system (PACS), and electronic health record system (EHR), remote diagnostics and therapeutic tools have pivoted the first step towards tech-enabled healthcare and can be further leveraged to effect new modalities of healthcare.
With the foray of corporate entities and infusion of their managerial practices into healthcare space, it has started experiencing the “new era” of technological evolution; especially with mobile devices, wireless technology, open-source software systems, and cloud computing offering promises to reduce system costs and improve workflows through collaborative data exchange and mobility.
The way forward would be for hospitals to streamline their IT infrastructure and incorporating a business model that can acknowledge and address the adoption and implementation bottlenecks plaguing this space. This increasing convergence of technology and healthcare provides a huge opportunity for providers to improve the patient experience and operate more efficiently due to the augmented association and information sharing among providers.
Why Practice Social Distancing?
Amidst this lockdown, many are still asking the question about “Social Distancing”. As per the scientists, finding the cure or medicine for COVID-19 it may take about 12-18 months to find it. Hence. To prevent the spreading of this virus social distancing is the most effective way to do it.
Let's start by explaining what is social distancing, it is a conscious and deliberate choice of maintaining the distance of six feet from the people around us, to prevent the spreading of COVID-19.
To understand better the impact of it, here is a small visual to explain how the virus will spread if social distancing is not paid attention.
Social distancing is so effective right now that as an individual we all are contributing in the prevention of spreading this deadly virus.
There is another major concern that is coming into the picture with the rapid increase in the coronavirus patients. Hospitals around the world do not have enough resources to tackle this pandemic, there are limited numbers of healthcare facility in all the countries around the world.
The coronavirus outbreak in Italy has shown, the faster rate of the population getting infected by it and to tackle with it, there are not enough medical resources like hospital beds, ventilators and doctors. This will be challenging for the healthcare to save lives leading to exponential rise in number of deaths.
Hence, social distancing is the most effective way to "flatten the curve" or reduce the spread of this coronavirus.
What does flattening the curve means?
The researchers have projected a graph to understand the impact of the spreading of coronavirus against the number of hospital beds. Though this is a theoretical graph, it does show how quickly the capacity of healthcare can come crashing down which can make COVID-19 an epidemic, hard to deal with.
This curve indicates, if the same number of people are getting at a slower rate over a longer period of time, then it reduces the pressure on the healthcare system and making it easier to treat everyone, hence, a lesser number of deaths.
Therefore, just by taking small measures individually, like maintaining social distance, washing hands frequently, avoid going out in crowded places, and spend maximum time inside the house. We all can contribute a collective to fight against this deadly coronavirus.