By Prashant Tandon, Founder & MD, 1mg
Headquartered in Gurgaon, 1mg enables the patients to have deeper understanding about their medicines and find more cost-effective substitutes through its Android/iOS app and website.
With widespread innovations in the healthcare space, technology has undoubtedly made the life of patients, caregivers and doctors a lot easier. Technology is changing the way healthcare is delivered to patients. I believe that today, a consumer can make a more informed decision and enjoy transparency which were not available before, as the information was the preserve of a select fortunate few. The consumers can now access their medical information, monitor their vital signs, get health tests done at home and carry out a wide range of tasks.
Technology has been able to address multiple issues at many levels. I feel that there are a lot of digital evolutions happening. And with innovations in digital space going up, we can take healthcare to the next level. The next phase would be gathering of information and leading to more specific and personalized healthcare. The following are just a few of the many changes that medical technology helps to tackle:
1. Convenience & Better Access to Healthcare Services & Products
ePharmacy, eDiagnostics, eConsultations, and many others, have made complete healthcare available to everyone in different parts of the country. As a result, medicines can be ordered, lab tests can be booked and even online consultation from doctors can be taken with the tap of a mobile screen. This will significantly help patients who are old and sick, and not in a condition to go out. This is also pertinent with the increasing nuclear family concept, working couples, increasing number of elderly population and urban development in the periphery of the metro cities.
2. Access to Information for Better Decision Making
Today, consumers have the power to make more informed decisions. For example, a patient today is able to learn about his/her condition, treatment options and best practices in managing the condition, regardless of his/her location or financial situation. With the use of technology, consumers can-
• Choose the right service provider by analyzing their reviews, ratings or necessary certifications
• Check the availability of the doctors, timings of clinics, and other aspects online
• Manage or diagnose their disease at an early stage
• Access vital information regarding home remedies and first aid for any medical problem
• Know about the medicines, their side effects, interactions and find out the cheaper substitutes
3. Data Records (Electronic Medical Reports)
Healthcare is a data-intensive and data driven industry. Hence, it becomes important to not only store this data accurately but also use it to improve patient experience. Availability of all reports and prescriptions of an individual on her/his account is one of the biggest benefits of technology. The possibility of losing a particular report or prescription will be eliminated. Digitizing all the information can make it accessible anywhere and everywhere, and would not require any individual to look for his medical reports all over her/his place. Also, the information which one tends to usually forget about one’s health will be available at one place, making it easier for all to give the exact information that a doctor needs to suggest ‘the perfect solution’. More precise the information is, better will be the chances of doctor understanding the exact problem and suggesting ‘the perfect solution’.
4. Transparency & Affordability
Online models for healthcare, be it access to doctors, pharmacy or diagnostics, ensure there is all the information available at the patient's fingertips. Hence, a consumer can compare prices, learn about more cost effective options and make sure they are not taken for a ride.
5. Access to Doctors/Specialists
The internet can create access to qualified specialists and doctors whom a consumer would otherwise not be able to physically access. Through telemedicine, a village dweller in any part of India can access a top specialist anywhere in the large cities, or perhaps even globally through the digital connect. This will change the entire nexus of middlemen who thrive on taking poor villagers to random low quality hospitals for a fat commission and then getting needless procedures done, which ruin their livelihoods.
Consumers can consult doctors / health experts online –
- As a first screening or to understand their medical test reports
- To follow up with the doctor
- To take second opinion on major health issues
6. Better Tracking
A country-wide online model to procure health services ensures everything is tracked, recorded and hence organized and operated in a professional manner. There is a well tracked system which will strengthen authenticity in the supply chain, ensure better access, provide convenience to the patient and also make sure that the deep rooted issues of middlemen taking commission to procure medicines (often fake and without a bill) is addressed. Proper tracking also reduces the chances of circulation of counterfeit medicines. An online model ensures organized tracking and recording of the data for audit trails, thus making the healthcare system more structured.
7. Better health management
Digital health has been a boon for professionals who find it difficult to manage between their work and managing their family’s health. It is now easier for a busy son to take care of his dad and even for his dad to take care of himself. Technology has even made sure that forgetfulness can no longer be an excuse for skipping medicines by providing timely reminders.
Healthcare technology is still in its nascent stage and this industry would evolve with time. I am happy that the government is encouraging the concept of Digital India which can change life of billions of Indians. I firmly believe that if healthcare is to be changed (and for sure it is going to be changed), then it will move to a model where the consumer will have the power of knowledge and will demand better service, more transparency and optimum quality for the money he/she pays.