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Five ways to build a robust healthcare system in a post-pandemic world

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Dr Alexander Kuruvilla, Chief Health Strategy Officer, Practo talks about digitization as an enabler of innovation

The learnings in the time of COVID-19 are crucial for the future of global health. Inequalities, helplessness, and the eventual coming together of humankind to support each other is a lesson for civilization. As our days spent in lockdown blurred and we became hyper-aware of the threat of contagion, it took a toll on our physical well-being and so did our behavioral immune system. Vaccination, of course, is a ray of hope, but it may take a long time for the world to recuperate and go back to normal. That said, in our preparedness to withstand future outbreaks, building a robust and sustainable healthcare system is of prime importance.

Making care delivery more patient-centered and integrated

For healthcare to become more efficient, integrated, and value-based, we need an ecosystem that is patient-centered rather than being facility-oriented. Personalized care is the new norm and rightly so. It enables people and communities to actively participate in the process of choosing the medical services they want to avail – from electronic health records (EHRs) and diagnostics to treatment and aftercare. Within the care delivery landscape, patient-focussed care will facilitate greater coordination and collaboration among providers.

Data interoperability for improved and value-based care

In the post-pandemic world, data interoperability will pave the way for better triage, management, analysis, and exchange between institutions and healthcare professionals. At this point, it is pertinent to emphasize the importance of ensuring privacy, security, and integrity of patient data. This will help build confidence among patients, and enable institutions to provide improved and value-based care within a short period of time. EHRs are an essential part of this documentation process, which can be viewed across systems. Lately, semantic interoperability has led to more efficient and effective operations around the world, fostering resilience and healthcare system preparedness.

Optimizing remote-care capabilities

No doubt technology and digital platforms have gained renewed importance in healthcare today. But the accuracy of data and convenience in care delivery brought about by this transition have a future beyond the pandemic. The advantages of telehealth are multiple and long-standing. Growing numbers of hospitals and clinics across India are deploying teleconsultation services to reach out to patients and optimize remote-care capabilities. This is also a great way to bring the elderly into the fold of virtual care, who, so far, only relied on the ‘family doctor’.

Early detection and diagnosis to be the crucial next step

Providing 24*7 access to high-quality healthcare requires state-of-the-art technology and continued innovation in the field of medical science. Add to that, the growing burden of an ageing population and chronic disease management. To build a sustainable healthcare system, early detection and diagnosis is the crucial next step to providing access to care. This can dramatically bring down the risk of serious diseases and disorders among people in all age groups, leading to better patient outcomes and lower expenses, while investment can be redirected towards creating advanced infrastructure and improved care delivery methods.

Encouraging health behavior change to promote well-being

By now, it is quite clear that access to healthcare alone will not be enough to save people’s lives. In the future, a lot will depend on how aware we are of our body and the risks we are putting our health in due to poor lifestyle habits. Increased awareness about diseases and how a behavioural change among the masses is a must to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all. In turn, this will help empower consumers, disburden medical facilities, and divert care towards more critical issues in healthcare. The growing preference for digital-first health interactions is also seen as a leap into the future.

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