Digital transformation a major challenge for healthcare sector in India: Vishal Jain

Nandita Vijay, Bengaluru

Monday, April 12, 2021, 08:00 Hrs [IST]

India is still in the nascent stage of digitizing patient records. It heavily relies on physical paper records. But Covid-19 has reaffirmed the significance of digital transformation for the healthcare industry which had to rise to the challenges posed by the pandemic, said Vishal Jain, director, Inspira Enterprise.

Artificial intelligence, Blockchain for electronic health records, virtual reality and telemedicine are the options before healthcare to ensure safety of patients and practitioners, he added.

Many healthcare providers have identified the gaps and are gradually digitizing their processes. Technology has created multiple sources of medical data, personal fitness trackers, blood pressure monitors, and even genomic data. However, digital transformation can be a complex process, especially for healthcare.

Beyond investing in new technology, there is a need for a change of mindset. Fear of change is the most crucial challenge that comes in the way of a successful digital transformation. Most of the hospitals and clinics continue to rely on paper for major documentation as they are comfortable with this traditional method. Unless transition is accepted across all levels from top management, doctors, nurses and other hospital staff it cannot be a total success, Jain noted.

Healthcare organizations tend to focus on the return on investments (ROI), without fully appreciating the value proposition that a digitally powered system can deliver. They fail to understand that adoption of a digital strategy offers more scale, revenue, and profit than the traditional approach. Instead of looking at the cost of installation, one should view long term benefits. For instance, technology can cut down on the need for in-person consultations, thereby allowing doctors to cater to more patients. Similarly, when it comes to the management of chronic diseases, going digital can be a real money-saver with patient satisfaction and retention.

Digital transformation is an amalgamation of various technologies. Many hospitals claim to be ‘digital’ by just adopting the basics like integrated hospital information system (HIS) and electronic medical records (EMR). From the registration and consultation to the inpatient services and post-discharge follow-ups, the entire patient journey needs to be considered while planning a hospital’s digital transformation. Unfortunately, very few have a clear picture in mind before jumping on the digital transformation bandwagon and get lost in a large amount of unmanaged data they will have to deal with.

Further with technology comes the threat of cyber-attacks. But if an organization has a strong cyber resilience strategy, such a concern can be handled efficiently.

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