By Sandeep Gudibanda
The new coronavirus took just over a year to sweep the world. More than 3.7 million people have died worldwide, including 353,528 in India. As the rage over the disease continues, the answer to the question of how many more will die remains elusive. And for a country like India, which has a doctor-to-patient ratio of 1: 1456 versus the World Health Organization recommendation of 1: 1000, the pandemic brought multiple challenges.
The status quo exposed vulnerabilities in the healthcare system, however, it also led to an increase in the adoption of digital technologies to provide quality and better patient care. Digital solutions such as telemedicine, Aarogya Setu, smart and remote devices for health care monitoring, robotics, artificial intelligence and the Co-WIN application have redefined the way healthcare is delivered in the country.
Additionally, from chronic disease management to medical imaging, data analytics technologies have increased the efficiency of care delivery through accelerated multiple disease diagnosis and reduced administrative burden. What also reiterated the importance of digital technologies in healthcare was the use of Electronic Medical Records (EMR).
Data in the healthcare sector is projected to grow dramatically in the coming years. Today, most of the information is collected in print, while the current trend is towards the rapid digitization of big data, also known as big data. Big data in healthcare is defined as electronic health data sets that require advanced technologies and techniques to capture, store, distribute and analyze information. Includes data from clinical decision support systems, computerized physician order entry, and articles in medical journals.
By understanding patterns and trends within data, big data analytics helps improve patient care and save lives. It detects diseases in earlier stages, helps in the prediction of certain results based on historical information and guides the doctor at the point of care. Data types also include human-generated content, such as EMR, email, paper documents, and medical notes. Today, most healthcare providers agree that a viable way to reduce prescribing errors is by using digital platforms rather than handwritten scripts.
Delving into electronic medical records
EMRs are the digitized version of paper records or talks in a medical center that contain information such as the patient’s medical and treatment history, diagnosis, laboratory results, immunization details, among others. Through EMR, various healthcare providers can track patient data over an extended period. Identify those who need to undergo a checkup and screenings and figure out whether a patient requires a certain vaccine or medication. These digital platforms improve the quality and security of care. A doctor can prescribe and order medications based on the patient’s medical problems and allergies with a single click.
EMR software systems also ensure that patients and their families are more involved in the healthcare process. For example, when clinical summaries are sent to patients, they provide information about care provided during visits, prescription medications, related medical advice, and upcoming follow-up appointments. This is done with the goal of making patients and their families more aware of which treatment route was taken during the visit and how they can help in caring for the patient. These platforms provide links to articles, images, and videos that can help patients better understand their health care situation and make more informed decisions about lifestyle adjustments and medical procedures. Treatment routes tailored to individual patient requirements can reduce side effects, avoid inappropriate treatment, and improve the quality of treatment. Through the exploration of new drugs by healthcare professionals with years of experience, all physicians can be educated about new medical treatments.
Some people use the terms and electronic medical record (EHR) and EMR interchangeably. However, it is essential to keep in mind that they are different. EMR is a digital version of a paper record related to a patient’s medical history recorded in a physician’s office and is not intended to be shared outside of an individual clinical practice. On the other hand, EHR is a comprehensive report of a person’s general health and is a collection of various medical records. In addition, it can be shared outside the healthcare organization.
Improving patient care with data analysis and EMR
We live in a connected age where patients expect better healthcare facilities, and big data analytics has the potential to address this. There is a pressing need to redefine healthcare in India with the lens of digitization that will help build a resilient healthcare ecosystem. With growing digital illiteracy and Internet access in rural and urban areas of the country, there is a growing appetite for technology-derived healthcare solutions. Even before the pandemic, the government tried to take advantage of the technology through the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM).
To make health care accessible, affordable and efficient, the government’s goal is to incorporate initiatives such as EMR, Health Facility Registry, Health ID, Digi Doctor, among others. However, there is still a long way to go due to lack of awareness. Therefore, people should be educated about the benefits of data analytics and related sources like EMR, ensuring easy accessibility to it.
(The author is CEO and Co-Founder of Healthplix, Most Trusted EMR brand among doctors across India. The opinions expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online.)