Thursday, August 13, 2015

Information Age Healthcare - The need of hour for India

In India as well as countries around the globe, the cost of taking care of people continues to rise every year. At the same time that the world’s population is aging, chronic diseases like asthma, diabetes, heart disease and obesity are increasing at rapid pace in every age group. In addition to this shrinking workforce and shortage of doctors and nurses (India: is currently running short of at least 600,000 doctors and 1 million nurses), along with the fact that fewer young medical professionals are training to replace them.
Combine all this with legacy hospital infrastructure and technology, paper-intensive record-keeping, and inconsistent standards, and there is no doubt that the situation calls for a smarter, more effective approach to healthcare.  This is also critical because a robust healthcare system is the hallmark of organized development. Healthy citizens will translate into a productive workforce and a thriving economy.

By definition this is a holistic approach to healthcare that integrates the best of technologies to remove information barriers, enabling data to be analyzed and shared in real time. Smart healthcare is about forging time and creating cost-saving collaborative partnerships among doctors, administrators, insurers, and healthcare institutions. It is about integrating communications into a single, consolidated infrastructure, and giving communities and individuals the tools and knowledge they need in order to make more informed choices. Such digital healthcare delivery systems powered by the Network can significantly improve operational efficiency, optimize collaboration, and lead to better patient care and outcomes.
A comprehensive solution that integrates real-time voice and video, clinical collaboration, patient and asset tracking, electronic medical records and nurse call information allows hospitals and healthcare professionals to spend more time with patients and less time on administrative tasks. Smart healthcare solutions can help improve both care delivery and business operations for hospitals and medical professionals by:

  • Providing essential information to doctors and staff, regardless of the devices used
  • Giving real-time access to patient records, images and expert consultations 
  • Accurate tracking and location of patients, staff, equipment and medical supplies 
  • Education programs for medical staff and patients

These solutions take full advantage of the limitless possibilities of Telehealth. IP video technology can link patients and providers to specialists and primary care professionals, paving the way to faster and more cost-effective remote medical consultations, patient diagnosis, and chronic disease management.
In countries like India, critical investments are needed in healthcare (remote health, elderly care), health information exchange, and telehealth. Evidence strongly suggests that implementing Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) can result in higher quality and safer, more patient-responsive healthcare. Mobile collaboration technologies and BYOD for example can be useful in delivery of better health outcomes.

In summary therefore, adoption of technology enabled solutions complimented with an array of healthcare management services, will help the healthcare industry in India leapfrog into 'Information Age Healthcare', much quicker than imagined before.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Online Healthcare in 2015 & Beyond




There are all kinds of facts, figures, and guesses floating around right now as to what will be the top healthcare challenges and trends in 2015 and beyond. The Indian healthcare sector alone is estimated to touch $160 billion in 2017 – roughly double from what it was in 2012 (according to a report by Equentis Capitals) resulting in the CAGR growth rate of about 15%. There are a bunch of factors such as easier access to good healthcare services, relative increase in incomes and more emphasis on health awareness all contributing to this growth. Not just this, there is a significant demand in the quality of healthcare services in Tier-II and Tier-III cities which means people are recognizing the need for specialty-care.




India’s obvious advantage is the large pool of medical professionals and the dramatically lower medical costs as compared to other Asian and western countries. The surgeries reportedly cost one-tenth of that in US or Europe, making it a lucrative location for medical tourism and even R&D. Other than being widely known to be an English speaking country, alternative techniques like Homeopathy, Ayurveda, Yoga and Unani make it stand out when compared to other competing south-east Asian and middle-eastern countries.

Technology will be a game changer in the manner in which healthcare services will be delivered in India. The private sector will be the major driving force behind technology adoption in the Indian healthcare segment. To optimize costs and effectively manage operations, IT solutions will become an integral part of process management, patient care and the Management Information System (MIS) in hospitals. With the health insurance sector poised for major growth in the coming decade, increasing demand from this sector for more efficient systems for storage and retrieval of information will put pressure on hospitals and other healthcare providers to imbibe technology to modernize existing infrastructure.

The convergence of healthcare with upcoming technologies such as Cloud Computing and wireless technologies will play a key role in improving accessibility and meeting the challenge of manpower shortage. The coming years are expected to witness greater deployment of tools such as Telemedicine, Teleradiology, Hospital Information Systems (HIS)/Hospital Management Information Systems (HMIS), online or Electronic Medical Records (EMR), etc.

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It is estimated that there will be over 550 million internet users in 2018. 
In India, there will be an estimated 200M smartphone users by 2016.

Online healthcare has increased communication among various people. It is not only making doctors and hospitals more accessible to patients, it is also helping patients connect with other patients. People want to read real stories not just to be informed, but to be inspired. Furthermore, it is assisting people to learn more about their bodies and give all kinds of health information to potential patients- making them aware of treatment options and preventive measures.

Doctors are connecting with other doctors across the world. This global shift in digital healthcare is making it possible for people to receive more personalized and precise medicine and health services – reducing errors and cost, in turn, improving quality and providing easier access to medical facilities.

Challenges

India is home to a majority of people who are referred to doctors by family and relatives or by word-of-mouth. Making people believe that their health issues can be handled through the internet is a real problem. Building trust among these people can spell great success for healthcare portals.

Another point to note is that there are several healthcare start-ups focusing solely on ‘booking appointments’, and not many players in the hospitalization space. In India, the domestic hospitalization industry is a total of $280 billion (according to a McKinsey report), while the international hospitalization industry is indicated to be about $4 + billion (according to a report by Ministry of Health/KPMG 2014). This means, massive business for start-ups like Credihealth, who are adopting hospitalization as their forté.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Technology & Medicine

The most significant announcement that Apple made in 2014 wasn’t a larger-sized iPhone. It was that Apple is entering the health-care industry. With HealthKit, it is building an iTunes-like platform for health; Apple Watch is its first medical device. Apple is, however, two steps behind Google, IBM, and hundreds of startups. They realized much earlier that medicine is becoming an information technology and that the trillion-dollar health-care market is ripe for disruption.



2015 will be the year in which tech takes baby steps in transforming medicine. The technologies that make this possible are advancing at exponential rates; their power and performance are increasing dramatically even as their prices fall and footprints shrink. The big leaps will start to happen at around the end of this decade.


The health devices that companies such as Apple, Microsoft, and Samsung are developing are based on MEMS sensors, which are one of the exponential technologies. These enable the measurement of things such as heart rate, temperature, blood pressure, and activity levels and can feed data into cloud-based platforms such as HealthKit. They will be packaged in watches, Band-Aids, clothing—and contact lenses. Yes, Google announced in January that it is developing a contact lens that can measure glucose levels in a person’s tears and transmit these data via an antenna thinner than a human hair. In July, it said that it was licensing the technology to Novartis, enabling it to market it to people with diabetes. We will soon have sensors that monitor almost every aspect of our body’s functioning, inside and out.


Advances in Microfluidics are making possible the types of comprehensive, inexpensive diagnostics that in a single drop of blood, it can test for things such as cancer, cholesterol, and cocaine. Newer technologies coming from Nano biophysics like Gene-Radar, a portable nanotechnology platform that uses biological nanomachines to rapidly and accurately detect the genetic fingerprints of organisms. It will enable the detection of diseases such as HIV and Ebola and deliver the results to a mobile device within minutes—for a hundredth of the cost of conventional tests. By combining these data with EMR (Electronic Medical Records) and the activity and lifestyle information that our smartphones observe, Artificial Intelligence-based systems will monitor us on a 24 x 7 basis. They will warn us when we are about to get sick and advise us on what medications we should take and how we should improve our lifestyle and habits. 

With the added sensors and the apps that tech companies will build, our smartphone will become a medical device akin to the Star Trek tricorder. With health data from millions of patients, technology companies will be able to take on and transform the pharmaceutical industry—which works on limited clinical-trial data and sometimes chooses to ignore information that does not suit it. These data can be used to accurately analyze what medications patients have taken, to determine which of them truly had a positive effect; which simply created adverse reactions and new ailments; and which did both.


And then there is the genomics revolution. The cost of sequencing a human genome has fallen from $100 million in 2001 to about $1000 today and will likely cost as much as a blood test by the end of this decade. What this means is that the bits and bytes that make up a human being have been deciphered; for all intents and purposes, we have become software.





2014 marked an inflection point in the technology curve for medicine. It isn’t yet clear which technology advances will indeed affect humanity and which will be nothing more than cool science experiments. What is clear is that we have entered an era of acceleration and that there is much promise and peril ahead.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Technology Trends in Indian Healthcare

Technology has made almost anything possible in the field of healthcare. Many of the devices invented can help users lead healthier and productive lives and has progressed into an atmosphere of organized data in the healthcare flowing from patients to physicians, diagnostic clinicians, pharmacists and medical insurance billing specialists. Here is a list of technology trends shaping the future of medicine


#1.BYOD prevalence


The BYOD also known as Bring Your Own Device is increasing popularity in the healthcare industry. The consumerization of IT and the BYOD movement in the workplace has proven to be extremely beneficial for the healthcare industry, allowing providers to access patient data, billing information, clinical trial data and employee information on-the-go. To help deal with healthcare’s primary BYOD challenges, since managing information involves risk, the healthcare industry should consider whole security programs allowing for longer term security strategies.


#2.Big data


Big data has lately begun to become an integral aspect in healthcare. It is a term used for massive amounts of information that can be interpreted by analytics to provide an overview of trends or patterns. Organizations influence big data by gathering records and information captured and then interpreting it with analytics. It has applications range from provider-specific business intelligence  over an entire state's health records to identify people who are at risk for certain ailments and can help target early warning signs and improve patient safety.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Wearable Health Technology: The future of medical devices

The terms “wearable technology“, “wearable devices“, and “wearables” all refer to electronic technologies or computers that are incorporated into items of clothing and accessories which can comfortably be worn on the body. These wearable devices can perform many of the same computing tasks as mobile phones and laptop computers; however, in some cases, wearable technology can outperform these hand-held devices entirely. Wearable technology tends to be more sophisticated than hand-held technology on the market today because it can provide sensory and scanning features not typically seen in mobile and laptop devices, such as biofeedback and tracking of physiological function.

Generally, wearable technology will have some form of communications capability and will allow the wearer access to information in real time. Data-input capabilities are also a feature of such devices, as is local storage. Examples of wearable devices include watches, glasses, contact lenses, e-textiles and smart fabrics, headbands, beanies and caps, jewelry such as rings, bracelets, and hearing aid-like devices that are designed to look like earrings.


As the potential uses in various fields continues to grow, the sociological and cultural impact wearable technology will have in the future should not be minimized. Already, the current hand-held devices available to consumers, such as Smart Phones, iPods and tablets, have changed the technological and social landscapes on a global scale, such that, walking out in public and seeing an individual engaging with a hand-held device is commonplace. Such an image was nonexistent only 20 years ago. With that in mind, developers and analysts predict that wearable technology will very quickly change the technological and cultural landscapes once again, and may even change the nature of mobile phones and other hand-held devices entirely.

The first round of technology may be limited, but eventually the companies could compete in a global blood-sugar tracking market worth over $12 billion by 2017, according to research firm GlobalData.


Non-invasive technology could take many forms. Electricity or ultrasound could pull glucose through the skin for measurement, for instance, or a light could be shined through the skin so that a spectroscope could measure for indications of glucose.



Google has been public about some of its plans: it has developed a “smart” contact lens that measures glucose. In a blog post detailing plans for its smart contact lens, Google described an LED system that could warn of high or low blood sugar by flashing tiny lights. It has recently said it is looking for partners to bring the lens to market.
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Google is developing a contact lens to help diabetics manage their blood sugar levels.Photo: Getty Images
The device, which uses tiny chips and sensors that resemble bits of glitter to measure glucose levels in tears, is expected to be years away from commercial development, and skeptics wonder if it will ever be ready.
Previous attempts at accurate non-invasive measurement have been foiled by body movement, and fluctuations in hydration and temperature. Tears also have lower concentrations of glucose, which are harder to track.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Health care and Cloud Computing

For years, hospitals have longed to bring computers into the exam rooms, waiting rooms, and treatment rooms to get rid of hard-to-read patient charts, make sure everyone treating a patient was seeing the same information, record everything from vital signs to care delivery, and let doctors, nurses, and hospital techs stay connected to vital information and services as they move throughout the hospital.

Cloud computing offers significant benefits to the healthcare sector; Doctor’s clinics, hospitals, and health clinics require quick access to computing and large storage facilities which are not provided in the traditional settings, moreover healthcare data needs to be shared across various settings and geographies which further burdens the healthcare provider and the patient causing significant delay in treatment and loss of time. Cloud caters to all these requirements thus providing the healthcare organizations an incredible opportunity to improve services to their customers, the patients, to share information more easily than ever before, and improve operational efficiency at the same time. The flip side of this advantage is that healthcare data has specific requirements such as security, confidentiality, availability to authorized users, traceability of access, reversibility of data, and long-term preservation. Hence, cloud vendors need to account for all these while conforming to regulations such as HIPAA and Meaningful use.

Indeed, the cloud computing market in the health care sector is expected to grow to $5.4 billion by 2017 at a CAGR of 20.5% from 2012 to 2017, according to research firm Markets and Markets. Although cloud computing offers significant advantages to HCOs and other stakeholders, it has set of restraints. Security of patient information, interoperability and compliance with government regulations are some of the factors which are slowing down this market. 

The health care sector is beginning to move to cloud-based platforms, despite the common belief that compliance and security issues would hinder the shift. The major driving factors are the need to increase storage and compute capacity using limited dollars and the ability to centrally manage patient data that now exists in silos.

Despite this growth, many in health care are still pushing back on cloud computing, citing security and privacy issues. But others are finding better security models and technology in the cloud. Moreover, most health care organizations moving to cloud computing are doing so to reduce operational costs, because many have very limited budgets -- a powerful motivation that will overcome the overblown security and privacy excuses.

Still, this transition won't be pain-free. Most IT organizations in the health care sector don't have the talent required to move their systems safely to cloud-based platforms, and they may not understand the compliance and security issues as well as they should. However, the default of "do nothing" is not acceptable considering that the IT backlog is growing again -- and budgets are not. It's time to get creative and innovative around the use of new technology, including cloud computing.

That's especially good for health care, which should get a much higher return on investment than other sectors will from cloud adoption. The amount of data that health care providers must deal with is daunting, and it is typically managed in unconnected silos. That causes huge costs both for management and in inefficiencies, including some that lead to mistreatment due to ignorance among those treating patients as each has only some of the picture.

In moving to the cloud, the health care industry will find new opportunities for data consolidation or aggregation of patient data to help physicians and clinicians make better decisions, while their organizations should save money through reduced redundancy and cheaper operational costs. It's time for health care to capitalize on the cloud opportunity -- as smart organizations have already realized.


Different Segments of Cloud Computing market in healthcare are as:

The scope of the report spans the cloud computing market in healthcare which comprises:
  • Global healthcare cloud computing market, by applications
    • Clinical Information Systems (CIS)
      • Electronic Medical Records (EMR)
      • Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS)
      • Radiology Information System (RIS)
      • Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE)
      • Laboratory Information System (LIS)
      • Pharmacy Information System (PIS)
      • Others
    • Non Clinical Information Systems (NCIS)
      • Revenue Cycle Management (RCM)
      • Automatic Patient Billing (APB)
      • Cost accounting
      • Payroll
      • Claims management
  • Global healthcare cloud computing market, by pricing model
    • Pay-as-you-go
    • Spot pricing
  • Global healthcare cloud computing market, by deployment model
    • Public cloud
    • Private cloud
    • Hybrid cloud
  • Global healthcare cloud computing market, by components
    • Software
    • Hardware
    • Services
  • Global healthcare cloud computing market, by service model
    • Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)
    • Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)
    • Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)
  • Healthcare cloud computing market, by geography
    • North America
    • Europe
    • Asia
    • Rest of the World (ROW)

Friday, April 25, 2014

Healthcare Information Technology Trends in 2014

Year 2013 has been an eventful year in the healthcare industry. HHS (Health and human services) issued set of modifications to the HIPAA privacy and security rules assuring enhanced protection for patients’ protected health information. Quick adoption of EHRs (electronic health records) in the wake of the HITECH Act and the phenomenal growth in remote monitoring capabilities—specifically mhealth, made the news. Serious talks were delivered on the importance of liquid data within healthcare organizations accelerating their journey to an effective and efficient personalized care. And we also heard about Google Glass being the potentially transformative new gadget that could revolutionize healthcare soon.
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The healthcare IT landscape is evolving and the market is on an upswing for sure. To keep pace with the rising tide, it may be worthwhile to have a quick look at some of the healthcare IT trends predicted by the experts and industry analysts for the year 2014.
1- Mobile healthcare- The Rising Star
Mobile healthcare also termed as m-Health by many, is rapidly gaining interest amongst the consumers and the developer fraternity. The m-Health market, consisting of medical devices like cardiac monitors, diabetes management devices, Wearable fitness tracking devices and healthcare applications is estimated to be valued at $6.6 billion in 2013 and is expected to reach $20.7 billion by 2018 at a healthy CAGR of 25.5%, according to research report.
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With growing number of healthcare apps in app stores and increased awareness of the benefits of preventive and wellness oriented programs, m-Health has the potential to transform the healthcare industry.
ISV’s in the healthcare domain may find better acceptance rates for integrated m-Health applications, which can seamlessly interact with other devices, apps and are able to share data to provide comprehensive healthcare.
2- BYOD- Clinical Staff Embracing Tablets & Smartphones in their Workflow
Healthcare industry has been no different than any other in the mixed interest shown towards Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). The administrators are skeptical of it citing security concerns, whereas doctors and nurses have been championing towards the cause due to increased flexibility and mobility provided in their workflow with usage of tablets and smartphones.
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Benefits of BYOD in healthcare include but not limited to better access to patient information resulting in enhanced medical care to improved communication and cost savings.
Healthcare organizations considering the growing wave of mobile users will need to outline a good BYOD policy which also caters to and are in compliance with HIPAA and HITECH requirements.
3- Data Security – Privacy and Integrity of Data to be a Prime Concern
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Healthcare industry deals with extremely sensitive data and with the recent changes to HIPPA under the HITECH act has made data security a top concern/priority for Healthcare CIO’s. Security administrators will need to work harder to strike a balance between adequately protecting the confidentiality and integrity of patient information and at the same time ensure ready access to the data to authorized personnel.
4- Interoperable IT environment – Healthcare Information Exchange Standards to get a push
Healthcare information exchange (HIE) is the capability to mobilize healthcare information electronically among incongruent healthcare information systems within a region, community or hospital system, while upholding the meaning of information being exchanged.
The healthcare industry is striving towards developing an environment of interoperability amongst healthcare information systems, where the healthcare data can move freely, be accessed and analyzed by various systems in secured way to provide timely and efficient patient centered care, irrespective of vendor producing the electronic health record (EHR) data.
To achieve this, the industry is pushing for standardization in recording of patient data and for IT solutions to have interoperable frameworks to facilitate secured retrieval and access of data.
5- Big data Solutions – Adoptions to increase
With the advent of digitized patient data in form of EHR’s and host of data collected from wearable medical devices, healthcare industry can definitely benefit from Big Data technology.
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We have recently highlighted how Big data analytics can help in healthcare industry. The decision making in healthcare can be improved substantially by using Big Data Technologies. Using Hadoop eco system, health care providers can now process massive data sets to see the evidences and arrive at correct decision faster than before.
Leading research firm Gartner states that Healthcare industry is second in terms of investments planned during the next two years (2014-15) for Big Data.
6- Clinical Decision Support Systems- Increase in Implementations
A clinical decision support system (CDSS) is a knowledge based application which analyzes data to help healthcare providers make better decisions. It is an adaptation of the decision support system (DSS) commonly used to support business management.
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As stated in the above trend, patient data in digitized form is now available and hence constitutes as the essential data supply for these decision support systems. Also the Centre for Medicare and Medicaid services (CMS) in its meaningful use stage 3 wants hospitals to increase use of CDSS.
The demand to utilize these data mass to help healthcare personnel arrive at better decisions is growing.
7- Healthcare Data in Cloud- Migration to Increase
Organizations across the healthcare industry are looking towards Cloud computing offers in this turbulent transition phase towards IT. Cloud offers flexible storage facilities for ever-increasing clinical data and solves the challenge involving access and sharing of this data across various systems and geographies without significant costs and infrastructure investment.
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Research firm IDC states that the cloud presents strong opportunities for healthcare providers to create efficiencies, flexibility, and agility while increasing service levels for applications.
We could surely see healthcare institutions migrate more and more data into the cloud in a bid to comply with regulatory requirements and also to drive down their operational costs and improve healthcare delivery.
The above mentioned trends depict a very exciting transformational direction for healthcare industry. It will be interesting to see how Big Data transforms the healthcare industry with its key insights and actionable information and how m-Health improves patient well being.
References:
http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2593815
http://www.healthit.gov/providers-professionals/how-attain-meaningful-use
http://www.emrapproved.com/what-is-emr.php
http://searchhealthit.techtarget.com/definition/clinical-decision-support-system-CDSS