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How 'Doctor-First' Digital Strategy Is Revolutionizing The Health-Tech Industry

Source: , Posted On:   09 February 2021

How Doctor First Digital Strategy Is Revolutionizing The Health Tech Industry

We live in a country where healthcare access, availability, and affordability has always been a cause for concern owing to the lack of resources and the urban-rural divide. The critical reason is the dearth of the most valuable resource in the healthcare ecosystem “the number of healthcare practitioners”. In a country of 1.38 billion people, the doctor-patient ratio stands at 1:1456, increasing by a mere 3% over the last decade. At the same time, healthcare woes have further increased by the rise in chronic non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and chronic pulmonary diseases amongst others.

There is no denying the fact that doctors are critical to the healthcare industry. Yet, going by the WHO standards, India has a shortage of 1,66,000doctors. On top of it, our national demand-supply gap is far from evenly distributed. While 70% of the Indian population dwells across semi-urban and rural areas, 80% of our healthcare infrastructure is found in the urban regions. Simply put, rural areas have minimal access to healthcare facilities. Public infrastructure is not easily accessible to the majority of our population.

We either need more qualified healthcare practitioners to provide better healthcare services in rural areas or we have to find ways to increase the reach of existing ones. It is important to come up with solutions that decrease the burden on them simultaneously. To achieve this, startups in the healthcare industry must focus on a “Doctor-First” strategy. But before we delve deeper into this strategy, let us first understand what it means.

What is a Doctor-first strategy?

In the context of healthcare, we are addressing several challenges at once. They can be segmented asdoctor-facing and patient-facing challenges. While doctor-facing challenges include chaotic daily operations, infrastructural needs, accessibility issues, repetitive tasks, need to source and analyze historical records, and so forth, the same at the patient’s end include time-consuming consultation, travel-related issues, and increased exposure to disease transmission to name a few. To resolve all of these challenges, an optimal path is to adopt a ‘doctor-first’ strategy. But how is it optimal to leave half of the challenges unaddressed?

The doctor-first approach is the basic idea of placing a “doctor’s needs'' at the center of the entire decision-making process. If doctors are equipped with technology and solutions that make their medical practice easier and time-efficient while improving diagnosis and therapy compliance, doctors can cater to their patients' needs better. They can further serve more patients in relatively less time. So, technically, a “doctor-first” strategy not only results in more productive and content doctors, but it also reduces the healthcare burden and provides a satisfactory experience to the patients. It is precisely the path adopted by digital healthcare platforms.

Digital healthcare platforms prioritize doctors’ requirements by creating simple solutions. These solutions have a user-friendly interface alongside intuitive features that are easy to use. Some of their use cases include seamless appointment management, secure and convenient video consultation, e-prescriptions, patient record management, and so forth. Such platforms add to the capabilities of doctors with features like single-tap recommendations of commonly prescribed drugs, auto-populating generic names of drugs, complete track of a patient's medical history, and improved insights as well as treatments. Hence, they considerably enhance the outcomes of their patients.

Many pioneering technology solutions have emerged that enable doctors to safely conduct their practice and examine patients digitally. Such an ultramodern approach is filling the void by providing end-to-end support, communication, advice, and even automating and transforming various present-day needs.

Ultimately, these facets even resolve patient-facing challenges. They improve patient-doctor communication, minimize the need for venturing out, help people overcome geographic barriers for medical assistance, and empower patients to achieve optimal health conditions with greater flexibility.

Let us look at some of the ways in which this doctor-first approach is changing the Indian healthcare system for good:

Decreases Burnout amongst Doctors

With the medical practitioners’ commitment to the Hippocratic Oath, their job to heal patients is a very demanding one. Doctors and caregivers typically operate in stressful situations, making critical decisions at a moment’s notice, and getting their working hours extended invariably. So, it is natural for these factors to act as a stressor for them and create the possibility of burnout. Healthcare platforms ensure that doctors can work in a relaxed and efficient manner and save their precious time. As a result, patients also receive quality care. The tech-driven approach also minimizes the scope for errors and omissions.

Increases Accessibility and Efficiency

The digital avenue has unlocked significant opportunities for the healthcare segment. Today, any doctor can cater to patients across the globe via mobile devices. It may translate into a lifesaving phenomenon, especially for those living in rural areas having limited access to healthcare facilities. On the other hand, it also saves doctors from daily commutes and allows them to serve more patients.

Improves Patient Outcome

With the advent of e-health, the ease of accessing patient records anywhere at any time permits our doctors to obtain accurate medical history at the touch of a button. Doing so enables them to conduct well-informed diagnoses and hence, treatments. A lot of solutions are available on mobile devices as well. So, doctors can access them in case of emergency, and when in remote locations. Automated features such as medication and follow up reminders are helping doctors in achieving better therapy compliance and patient recovery process.

Adds to the Record-keeping Prowess

Managing patient data has always been a challenging aspect for doctors and hospitals alike. It isn’t just important in the decision-making process but is also a medico-legal requirement. Data such as prescription history, medical records, lab results, and appointments are encrypted and secured by tech-driven start-ups using industry-leading protocols. It has also eliminated the need to maintain years of a paper trail.

These are just some of the ways technology is touching the lives of both patients and doctors. At present, many industry players including tech-driven startups are coming up with innovative solutions to fill in the prevailing voids. For this reason, even previously tech-agnostic doctors are now adopting technology in their medical practice. It is high time that healthcare practitioners and patients start benefiting from this technological approach, thereby paving way for the Indian healthcare system in its all-new avatar.

In the future, the healthcare sector will have significant interactions of the healthcare workforce with the tech-driven applications, innovations, and support. Technologies such as Telemedicine, Blockchain, AI, VR, and IOT are already playing a major role in this landscape. It has been possible due to the government’s forward-looking initiatives such as Ayushman Bharat and eSanjeevani OPD along with the foray of leading-edge healthcare startups in our country. Thanks to this ever-increasing tech intervention, the Indian health technology market is now forecasted to reach $9.60 billion by 2022. There are better days ahead of us.