Editorial Notes

[Editorial Notes] Online path to Healthcare

Depending on the pace of digital adoption, innovative healthcare services can resolve issues of accessibility, absence, and possibly even affordability, in the long-term.
By IASToppers
August 26, 2020

Contents

  • Introduction
  • Disparity in healthcare facilities
  • Challenges
  • Way Ahead
  • Conclusion

Online path to Healthcare

For IASToppers’ Editorial Simplified Archive, click here

Introduction:

The Indian healthcare system has evolved much over the last decade, owing to the adoption of new technologies as well as systemic changes and emphasis on service quality. However, healthcare standards are neither uniform nor inclusive across the country.

Disparity in healthcare facilities:

  • There is a wide-scale disparity in the healthcare infrastructure of the country.
  • At one end of the spectrum, are state-of-the-art private facilities with advanced testing and treatment technologies catering primarily to people in urban areas.
  • On the other hand, there is a void where the impoverished struggle to receive even the most basic care, mostly in rural and disconnected areas.
  • There is one doctor for every 1,445 Indians as per the country’s current population estimate of 135 crores, which is lower than the WHO’s prescribed norm of one doctor for 1,000 people.

Challenges:

1.Lack of accessibility to quality healthcare:

  • Accessibility to quality healthcare is a major challenge among the rural population.
  • Travelling to a distant hospital for treatment means losing out on daily wages, and is put off until serious complications arise.
  • A lack of accessibility to healthcare negatively affects health-seeking behaviour and has a delayed but more severe impact on the country’s healthcare burden.

2. Lack of awareness:

  • Lack of awareness and the behavioral change affects service quality and availability of specialized treatments.
  • Low health awareness can be attributed to poor education or functional literacy, as well as the inadequate emphasis at different levels.
  • Regional efforts to enhance awareness can show promising results.

3. Lack of sensitivity:

  • Often, there are the incidences of lack of sensitivity of the healthcare workers and the carelessness of the health institutions.
  • Public hospitals that provide low or no-cost services are perceived as unreliable or of indifferent quality.
  • A clear, enforceable policy on human resources is needed to ensure that every single patient in India is taken care of by sensitive, trained and competent healthcare worker.

Way Forward:

1. Cost-conscious healthcare:

  • The healthcare sector needs to be cost-conscious — expenditure on unnecessary tests and procedures must be eliminated.
  • Clear demarcation of processes and procedures are essential to ensure accountability.

2. Responsible culture:

  • The problem can be solved by cultivating communicative and responsible culture, clarifying expectations and identifying many other sectors.

3. Identification of barriers:

  • It is important to identify and analyse barriers to healthcare access — geographical, financial, social and systemic — and sensitise people so that long-term action is taken to remove them.
  • The doctors, nurses, medical and technical staff need to be trained, skilled and equipped, and their services have to be equitably distributed across regions.
  • The staff shortages of remote and rural areas should be removed.

4. Digital innovation: 

  • Digital innovation can play a huge role in overcoming challenges in the healthcare sector.
  • On-demand health services allow organisations to link doctors to patients via the in-person, web (website or app) or phone mediums.
  • Patients can search for specialists based on their expertise and schedule to book appointments.
  • Online patient portals also provide medical test results, diagnosis and give patients detailed explanations of their illnesses, saving doctors precious time.
  • Devices like health rate monitors, exercise and activity trackers and sweat meters allow people to keep track of some aspects of their health without having to visit a doctor.

5. State of the art technology:

  • Other applications of technology in healthcare range from drone delivery of life-saving medicines, blood components or devices to inaccessible areas to remotely conducted robotic surgeries.
  • Use of augmented reality (AR) glasses can allow first responders to connect with faraway specialists in a matter of seconds.

Conclusion:

Solving basic healthcare challenges is crucial for ensuring universal health coverage in a manner that is equitable, fair and transparent. The efforts should be made both on government levels and CSR level (Corporate social responsibility) to sensitise people on health issues and promote healthy/safe behaviour. Depending on the pace of digital adoption, innovative healthcare services can resolve issues of accessibility, absence, and possibly even affordability, in the long-term.

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