sourceaditya: As a Doctor I want IT to enable….an Indian Doctor's perspective!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

As a Doctor I want IT to enable….an Indian Doctor's perspective!

As we improve on our software products and work with more and more doctors, we see trends which make us realize where the Doctors see Healthcare IT taking them in the future. This experiential learning is solely focused on Indian Doctors and our interactions with them. Highlighted below are some key points which enlighten us how Indian Doctors view IT as an enabler and in which processes. In an ideal scenario I think the topic name would be the ideal blog post highlighting the same age old points of what aspects should IT drive in healthcare services, but this isn’t one as doctors like other people have their own skewed requirements.

To begin with let’s see what the ideal points in order of importance would be:
1. Computer Based Medical Records (EMR)
2. Clinical Information Sharing Networks
3. Clinical Decision Support
4. Administrative Functions – Accounts and Patient Profile Management
5. Computer Generated Prescriptions
6. Better Patient Communication and Care

But interacting with Indian Doctors over the last 4 years, we have had a whole different set of requirements and priorities. It is an eye opener in some respects and helps us shape our business to the market needs. In some cases though it is wiser to take the higher road and try to change the doctor’s perspective.

So what does this list look like?

1. Accounts and (Mis)-Management
Indian Doctors give a lot of weight to accounting in their Clinic or Hospital Practice Management Software; they expect the package to bill as per their requirement. What is more surprising is their customization to deduct on the accounts despite capturing the details. Being a predominantly cash business, this is an understandable request; however we do not parley with such requests. The software must help them track their inflow so that they know what business they are generating daily, weekly or monthly.

2. Referrals
Referring patients to specialists and other clinicians is a common enough practice the world over, but in India it takes a monetary angle. Doctors want to know how many patients they were referred and by whom, so that they can make the necessary payments back to the referring doctors.

3. Medical History
Doctors want to keep their patient information with them to help make better decisions. While doctors are still uncomfortable with decision support tools, they however are opening up to the fact that medical history can be extracted any time once loaded on the software. This is a good beginning to convincing a doctor those other aspects to can now be automated.

4. MIS Reports and Registers
MIS reports and registers are a commonly asked feature or requirement amongst Indian doctors. Sadly the uninitiated ones forget that data needs to go “in” first for it to be extracted. The reasons for the MIS reports are both noble (research purposes) and mundane (government filing).
The biggest challenge here is designing forms and data capture mechanisms which give better reports, there is usually a big disconnect, where doctors want their templates in one way and expect relevant data to be generated out of it.

5. Custom Designed Templates
Plus91 Softwares have been designed in such a way that we can offer custom templates to doctors. Doctors love this feature, as each one wants to design something as per their understanding and specification. While it gives added power to the doctor, in the long run this feature isn’t ideal for healthcare IT as a growing network as it promotes multiple standards.

On a different note things which we would like doctors to focus on in the future:
a. Clinical Decision Support
b. Computerized Prescriptions
c. SMS/Email alerts and reminders
d. Online EMRs
e. Claims Management

We think these will give a definite boost not only to the quality of service and efficiency of their practice but also in the long run improve profitability.

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