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The Myths of Telemedicine in India

India like the rest of the world is faced with a major issue in providing affordable healthcare that is meeting the needs of its population. As the country with one of the largest population with a majority living in rural areas the healthcare budget is getting strained to a critical point where in 5 years the healthcare budget will be unable to meet healthcare for its population. Telemedicine is one solutions they are looking at right now.

Unfortunately, even though India has one of the best cadre of doctors and health technicians the solutions that are being proposed is inadequate to solve these issues.

The healthcare system over the decades has been built on the concept of critical care. This structure on the other hand led to the current worldwide crisis in healthcare.  With the increase of life span in the west and the rapid population growth in the developing countries, national governments and insurers are facing a major breakdown in their ability to provide proper and efficient health care. Read articles related to Healthcare.

Unfortunately this critical care concept is one of the major impediments in the implementation of solutions to address these problem. Hospitals have been built on the concept of this formula of keeping their beds occupied and providing those critical care services   and is the driving force behind them.

An illustration follows. Diabetes and cardiac disease is one of major conditions facing India today. A diabetic patient is very easy to manage if his condition is monitored and addressed before person’s health becomes critical.

However, the financial truth is that managing a diabetic patient to avoid a critical level may cost pennies a day versus a situation where that person goes critical and intervention such as amputations can result in costs in the tens of thousands of dollars not to mention the cost of persons after care. The same can be said for a cardiac patient. Managing person’s blood pressure as previously said can cost pennies per day versus open heart surgery or it’s after care cost.

This is in no way to diminish the importance of hospital rather a necessary re-orientation of their business model has to take place in order to come up with a valid solution to this critical issue.

I have been following Apollo hospitals expansion in Africa as well as that in India and their program is admirable but unfortunately it is not the solution to the dilemma that India is facing. India with one of the largest population in the world most of whom reside in rural areas will not benefit from any of these major advancements in telemedicine that Apollo is so proud of without a rural healthcare delivery program.

Recent newspaper announcement about their establishing a relationship with a major hospital in Ghana where the two hospitals will be connected by broad band. That is all nice as far the phone company who put the deal together it will generate good revenue for them it is good for Apollo as it gives them additional income from educating the doctors in Ghana it is even good for the hospital in Ghana as it gives their doctors needed education. But the question is what does it do for the population that is out of the reach of this hospital. NADA (Nothing). Read Apollo transforming healthcare in India.

It is illogical to claim that a person leaving a few hours away from one of their facilities will have any benefit from their sophisticated infrastructure. By the time he gets to one of this facilities he is either dead or beyond repair.

On the other hand, what these hospitals require is to realize that in order to survive this crisis situation they need to change their business model from focusing on critical care to preventive care. It is quite revealing that hospitals need to analyze this alternative change of focus to preventive care that  ultimately not only would patient leave to their survival but it would lead to more profitability than continuing onto their present system

I have been speaking about this for years that hospitals have to learn what bankers have learned decades ago. If you had a customer 50 or even a hundred miles away and you ask him to come to make a small deposit at your bank every day or every week or every month, there is no possibility that you will make him do that.

But on the other hand if you put a branch there to service his daily/weekly or monthly needs then when he has a major situation like borrowing a large sum he will come to your central location to take care of it. This is exactly what hospitals that want to survive will have to learn. With the rapid expansion of telecommunication technology, a preventive care system can be implemented in their surrounding area.

Our company has developed the  Telenetdocotr   system    that is actually in the process of being implemented in a number of eastern European countries as well as in Africa and subsequently Asia region.

The Telenetdoctor   system is inexpensive and easy to use by patient or provider. The system can be used in two different modes. One is an a individual basis where the patient through its smart phone is set up for to be monitored for his particular condition by his healthcare provider and the second option is where a healthcare provider can load up all of his patients on a tablet that we call it Mobile Clinique and he provides the necessary monitoring services for his patients.

Naturally the question is how this system will help the healthcare crisis or even support statements made above as far the hospitals are concerned.

If you refer to my previous analogy as far the banking system is concerned that I was suggesting that these hospitals through a system as mentioned above could secure a steady flow of patients from a much larger geographic area that they can service now.

For example, if we take the Mobil Clinique situation. A nurse or doctor in a remote area can be given the opportunity to implement a preventive health care system for his area. He can put as many patient on his Mobile Clinique as he wants. The system will give nurse/doctor the ability to monitor his patients in real time.

Let’s say that physician has a cardiac patient and every time he sees this patient he can take his blood pressure measure his weight do an EKG monitor it medical regiment. If this patient is out of the parameters that the cardiologist has set up than the system will immediately alert and the cardiologist can be video conference immediately for a consultation. If the cardiologist sees based on the monitoring history that this patient needs immediate attention he can have the patient taken to his facility immediately. On the other hand, after looking at the data he concludes that no such action is required than he can order so.

What did this simple cost effective preventive care system accomplish? In the first place if patient has to be taken to the hospital a potential critical condition may have been averted or even a life saved. In the case where the patient did not have to be taken to the facility than the savings are even greater considering the unnecessary hospital cost the unnecessary travel time and loss of revenue to the patient. But in reality what the hospital accomplished is generating additional patient flow from an area far behind its reach a major improvement in delivering care to areas that he could not reach before and in final analysis keeping his patient flow steady from areas that he could not service before not to mention the value of the good will on his reputation that he generated.

The second option that we are talking about is a one to one system that can be implemented with patients that do have a smart phone at their disposal. In this situation the patient again is monitored by his primary care physician or even a physician that has been assigned to him by the hospital. The doctor will set up the individual parameters that this particular patient is going to be monitored for. If he is a diabetic patient than his glucometer readings are going to be transmitted immediately to the monitoring platform. If the patient has violated his parameters than the system will follow up and request the physician intervention. This feature will insure that a critical condition is avoided that can lead to major savings to the system .On the other hand if intervention is necessary the physician can order patient to travel to the facility. Again just as before this system can reach in to market areas that a physical facility has no way to accomplish. At the same time of providing a critical service to society it is also provides a steady flow of patients and revenue to the hospital.

Not until we get our healthcare system reoriented to accept these new technological improvements will we be able to resolve the critical issues facing the world.

The system is a platform that besides its function as a monitoring and a preventive platform it can be used also as an educational tool that is disease specific and deliver information to the users on their specific issues that can improve their life style. Educational material such as diets or new development in managing their specific disease and as such preventing expensive outcomes. Read Business News.

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The Myths of Telemedicine in India
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