The healthcare industry has been in a way the last holdout against the rising tide of technological innovation. The internet based innovation that transformed the retail industry and the music industry; that transformed the way we do banking or the way we do hotel and flight bookings has so far bypassed the healthcare industry.
Examine the following evidence: when we think of online retail Amazon comes to mind. Thinking of travel booking brings Expedia to mind. We cannot think of banking without internet and mobile banking any more. However, when was the last time you booked your appointment with a doctor online? Why can’t you view your medical prescriptions and pathology lab reports online, the way you can view your flight bookings and hotel bookings online?
The winds of change are blowing, however, and technology start-ups are starting to build off-the-shelf as well as customizable solutions to cater to the largely untapped market for software solutions for the healthcare industry. Following are 6 ways that we at Zywie feel technology can get involved in healthcare to begin with:
- Helping doctors view and manage their appointments: A persistent problem that doctors have pointed out to us is their inability to plan out their day using traditional tools. In the absence of online appointment systems, doctors cannot get details of patients booked on any given day and as such they cannot provide ad hoc appointments to walk-in patients. Again for walk-in patients, doctors cannot easily estimate wait-time. Implementing a calendar, will empower doctors to schedule their own appointments and to plan their day better.
- Enabling patients to book appointments online: In the internet era, it is inexplicable that patients cannot search for doctors across hospitals, by name or by specialty, view free slots of doctors, and book a slot as per their convenience. Once an appointment is booked patients should then get reminders on the day of appointment.
- ePrescriptions and Health record Digitization: Another common quibble for doctors is that they cannot easily view past medical history of patients. They have to rely upon patients’ memories, or prescribe expensive tests to diagnose a patient accurately. Digitization of patients’ health records can improve efficiency and accuracy of medical treatment by a significant degree.
- Helping patients stay healthy: With the modern emphasis on holistic treatment and maintenance of a healthy lifestyle, apps that track patients’ food habits, calorific intake, medicines consumed and level of activity can be integrated with a patient’s medical treatment and can help prevent future illnesses.
- Linking doctors with other doctors: The idea behind this is creation of a social network for doctors, where doctors can share their findings with each other, collaborate on difficult cases and in general work together to take better care of patients.
- Using data analytics to offer better diagnostics and treatment: Once a critical mass of patients’ healthcare records are digitized, data mining can be done to do predictive analysis and to come up with probabilities of patients incurring certain ailments, ways to prevent those ailments and optimum treatment for patients suffering from specific illnesses. Data analytics in medical science is a less explored topic where the possibilities are endless.