Health Information Technology and Digitization of Indian Healthcare

Health in India stands at a paradoxical juncture. With the decline in mortality rates and increase in average life expectancy, India’s healthcare indicators have definitely improved over the last decade. Healthcare organizations have a complex set of workflows as compared to other industry and the interactions which are required to be captured in electronic format are becoming obligatory. The digital technology is maximizing the productivity of clinician, physician and hospital systems to provide patient-centered coordinated care.

According to the rating agency Fitch, the current size of the Indian healthcare industry is $65 billion and is expected to reach to $100 billion by 2015, while India's healthcare information technology market is expected to hit $2.45 billion in 2018, more than three times the $381.3 million reached in 2012.

The World Health Organization broadly defines eHealth as “the transfer of health resources and health care by electronic means”. eHealth refers to the health care components delivered, enabled or supported through the use of information and communications technology. It may involve clinical communications between healthcare providers such as online referrals, electronic prescribing and sharing of electronic health records using appropriate need-based Information and Communication Technology(ICT) with a view to enhance health outcomes and improve system efficiency.

Electronic patient education and communications such as email, text messaging, and social media, are on the rise in healthcare today. Presently innovative IT solutions like Cloud platforms also play an important role in technology implementations in hospitals such as streamlining and maintaining patient records.

mHealth or Mobile health technology solution addresses problems in areas where there is the scarcity of doctors and medical staff. Usage of mHealth technology aids the government’s objective of providing healthcare throughout the country.

Healthcare technology solutions are able to modernize medical care, reduce costs, avoid redundant or duplicate tests/procedures and automate manual processes. For example, electronic health records can help providers keep a track of patient information and can even alert those automatically to possible problems.

Electronic prescribing systems eliminate concerns about loss or illegible handwritten prescriptions. Many systems are now able to help providers make decisions about treatment (for instance, using a patient's age and weight to help ensure that the correct dose of a medication is given). On its surface, ICT is a remedy for many of the human flaws that lead to medical errors and inefficiency in healthcare.

These solutions will primarily take care of the present hindrances like high costs, reach, patient records, infrastructure etc. that the sector faces.


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