Are Healthcare Professionals Averse To Technology?
Adaptability of Information Technology by healthcare professionals is going to be a key factor in implementing technology in healthcare, writes Dr. Lisha Ruparel
The future of human race is a life entangled deeply with technology. Similarly, with the advances in healthcare information and technology there will be a greater dependence on the use of it to improve healthcare and achieve better outcomes. Technology is playing a very important role with the use of Hospital Information Management Systems. The optimum use of technology in hospitals will help to collect, analyze and store data thereby improving treatment outcomes and ensure optimum utilization of the hospital resources and enabling long term profitability.
Technology if used properly can reduce manpower costs and aid in inventory management. Hospital chains can share data and resources seamlessly across hospitals.
Dr. Lisha Ruparel asks healthcare experts if doctors are willing to adapt to the pro-technology new age.
Dr.Hiren Ambegaonkar, Regional Medical Director, Fortis Healthcare Ltd (South and West Region) says, “Initially training is required for all the stakeholders in the hospitals. It takes longer for the older consultants who are not used to computers. The younger consultants adapt very easily as they are used to using technology. Also with visiting consultants it becomes difficult due to time constrains. The consultants prefer to use the consultation time in conversing with the patient rather than feeding data into the system.” In his earlier stint with Seven Hills Hospitals which was completely paperless, he points out that the paperless system was excellent for research and very good for data analysis, adding, “It is ideal to provide consultants with a secretary or a dicta phone which will help in saving medical records electronically. With complete digitalised medical records it has been seen that there are less medication errors as they are flagged by the system and there is ease in monitoring healthcare indicators. The electronic medical records also maintain data trail which safeguard the stake holders in case of any matters of negligence or liability.”
Mr. Hiren Desai, Chief Information Officer, Kiran Hospital (Surat) who has worked in hospitals like Wockhardt says, “It is a challenge not only in India but worldwide to implement 100% use of information technology use by the healthcare professionals. Before some years, the electronic medical records system was rigid and not easy to customize. As of now we try to make the system as easy as possible for the consultants to use and try to customize it as per the requirements of the consultants. The younger consultants adapt to the technology systems very quickly. There are so many advantages of using an information technology system as it excellent for analyzing data, clinical research; checks can be used in the system to flag errors in medication, and for maintaining past patient records. It is difficult to have a complete paperless system as physical records for formats, like patient consent need to be maintained as per the law. In the next few years with the widespread use of information systems there will be minimum use of physical records.”
Dr. Sindhu Yuvaraja, Head at Zon Consulting which implements HMIS systems for hospitals and helps hospitals to acquire accreditation like NABH and JCI says, “Technology has played a very important role in providing quick treatment in cases of emergency. For example, an MRI scan for a trauma patient in an emergency can be accessed by the specialist in a distant location and the consultant can give his opinion thereby enabling immediate treatment to the patient. Similarly, hospitals allow remote access to doctors for departments like radiology and pathology; at the same time care also should be taken that there are no errors in reporting. Training plays a very important role which helps the hospital manpower adapt to the information systems. Proper implementation and training can help the consultants in maintain clinical records of the patients which can be useful for research. It is noticed that consultants due to time constraints use the help of secretaries or junior doctors to update the electronic medical records. The hospital management information systems should be simplified with multiple drop-down options which makes it easy for the consultants to use the information system.”
Mr.Umesh Oza, an Information Technology consultant who has more than 30 years of experience in the industry and has held senior management positions in various IT companies and has implemented numerous projects in India and abroad as well, says, “The hospital work force can be divided into the clinical and non-clinical work force. The non-clinical work force like the front office and back office staff have been using functions like patient registration, billing, accounting and have adapted very easily to information technology. Nurses with adequate training have also adapted very well to the use of technology. When you compare the full-time and part-time consultants it is noticed that full-time consultants have adapted more easily as compared to part-time consultants, which visit multiple hospitals which have different hospital management information systems. In some hospitals where consultants are not used to the electronic medical records the notes of the consultants are scanned.”
He cites the example of Bumrungrad International Hospital in Thailand where scanners are kept at multiple places in the hospital, immediately after the doctor writes the notes they are scanned and with the help of the Optical Character Recognition Technology the notes are converted to electronic medical records. He feels this a very good practice in the current situation, adding, “If there are regulations from the Government to maintain records in the digital formats, healthcare professionals will have no choice but to use the information systems.”
In the next few years with the widespread use of technology in our daily life we will see increase in adaptation of technology by the healthcare professionals.