Opinion

How quality healthcare can be delivered to the masses

Kamesh Teng | Updated on January 04, 2021

To achieve this, improving access to healthcare by expanding insurance coverage and greater use of technology are crucial

The Indian healthcare scenario presents a spectrum of contrasting landscapes. Our country began with a glorious tradition of public health, as seen in the references to the descriptions of the Indus Valley civilisation (5500-1300 BCE) which mention “Arogya” as reflecting “holistic well-being.”

Today, we are a country of around 1.3 billion people who present an enormous diversity and, therefore, an enormous challenge to the healthcare delivery system.

In these challenging times, especially with Covid-19 disrupting our lives, one of the crucial elements that has taken the spotlight is access to quality healthcare. And given the current situation, it has left many considering their options — healthcare providers redefining the process with the help of technology and even the Government to reimagine healthcare infrastructure for the country.

Why access is important

Access to health services means “the timely use of personal health services to achieve the best health outcomes.” It requires three distinct steps:

Entering the healthcare system (usually through insurance coverage)

Accessing a location where needed healthcare services are provided (geographic availability)

Finding a healthcare provider whom the patient trusts and can communicate with (personal relationship)

Access to healthcare impacts one’s overall physical, social, and mental health status and quality of life.

Having access to care is the single most important factor for improving quality healthcare and patient outcomes. Unfortunately, close to 15 per cent of the population is still uninsured, which dramatically reduces these patients’ access to timely care, makes them go without preventive or primary care, and forces them to rely on higher cost (and, therefore, lower value) services.

Of course, improving access to care doesn’t only refer to efforts to get patients to visit their primary care physician regularly or use preventive services such as early detection screenings. It can also mean improving how and where patients are able to access care. The emerging trend toward on-site clinics and robust workplace wellness programmes is one example of more convenient, accessible care.

Primary care providers that are already innovating to provide more convenient and connected care for their patients will be ahead of this emerging trend.

Assessment of capacity plays a pivotal role in determining when decisions need to be made on behalf of an individual. It therefore has major clinical management implications for healthcare professionals and civil liberties implications for the person concerned. In many countries, there is a presumption that adults have the capacity to make healthcare decisions.

Health insurance

Even if you have a group cover, most financial planners advise you to buy a health insurance policy even before you start saving for financial goals. The role of health insurance is two-fold — it helps you meet cost of medical bills during hospitalisation and, thereby, protects your savings.

In the absence of a health insurance policy, your financial savings could be wiped out in a jiffy. You may have to dip into your long-term savings earmarked for, say, children’s education or even your own retirement.

Technology

In today’s world, technology plays an important role in every industry as well as in our personal lives. Out of all of the industries that technology plays a crucial role in, healthcare is definitely one of the most important. This merger is responsible for improving and saving countless lives all around the world.

Despite its shortcomings, India’s healthcare sector has a lot going for it on several fronts. A government-led push to get healthcare providers to embrace electronic medical records is enabling artificial intelligence (AI) to extract insights from patient data to deliver better treatment. The availability of telecom bandwidth is making medical expertise reach under-served rural markets through tele-medicine and tele-consulting programmes, delivered over mobile phones.

Indian healthcare’s unique characteristics have called for custom solutions, and there we see a boom in the upcoming of e-pharmacy platforms. For instance, handwritten doctor prescriptions are common, and all these platforms uses an AI machine to decipher about half of such data, making it ready for further analytics.

Improving quality of life is one of the main benefits of integrating new innovations into medicine. Medical technologies like minimally-invasive surgeries, better monitoring systems, and more comfortable scanning equipment are allowing patients to spend less time in recovery and more time enjoying a healthy life.

Advancements in medical technology have allowed physicians to better diagnose and treat their patients since the beginning of the professional practice of medicine. Thanks to the continuous development of technology in the medical field, countless lives have been saved and the overall quality of life continues to improve over time.

The writer is Business Director (Reconstruction), India & ASEAN, Smith+Nephew

Published on January 04, 2021

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