By Dr. Juma Bharadia
The current state of healthcare is fraught with inefficiencies and non or at best underutilization of available technology. Weaknesses and stress points of current healthcare system were brought to fore and highlighted with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Visit to a healthcare professional is often the least favorite task – time it takes to be seen by a professional, the discussion about test results and health. In traditional office setting the average time from patient arrival to being seen by healthcare provider (not the nurse or medical assistant) is 30 minutes. Time spent by doctor is about 15 minutes. Add travel time and a doctor visit comes to about 2-2.5-hour undertaking. Ideal medical visit should last just the amount of time it takes to see the healthcare professional, in essence 15-20 minutes for a follow up visit and 30-35 minutes for consultation as opposed to 2-3 hours.
In this era of “instant” and “on-demand”, getting medical care seems slow. Doctors’ offices operate partially manual, paper and technology (both current and outdated) – lack modernism, in various proportions. The younger generation, millennials, and gen Z, who are facile with technology do not care for the current system. Consumers are not seeking healthcare the way it has been sought for decades, and the providers (of the same generation) are burning out prematurely.
Article published in September, 2018 edition of JAMA indicates that millennials do not have an established primary care doctor, rather use Urgent Care Centers as primary source healthcare consumption. They feel current healthcare system is time consuming and inefficient. Majority of them (>60%) leave Urgent Care centers with medications that are harmful to them compared to 17% who have established doctors.
Suboptimal care and delays compound healthcare costs. By 2030 millennials will outnumber baby boomers by 22 million. Millennial healthcare providers like to work at their time and convenience – balance between professional and personal life, enjoy efficiency over bureaucracy and a greener solution to providing healthcare.
SMART Care (Smart Medical Access Response and Treatment) and VITAE (Vertically Integrated Technologically Aligned Ecosystem in healthcare) is a solution suitable for both the doctor and patient. Principles are to empower both the patient and healthcare provider, optimize healthcare delivery efficiently and at reduced costs, where both can communicate without the middle layer of office staff. Communication happens real time via text messaging and video chats if necessary. Patients’ and providers’ geographic location is moot. Alleviating patient and or their loved ones’ anxiety and unnecessary urgent care visits.
Doctors do not need a traditional brick and mortar office to practice the art and science. All the data is stored on the cloud – the remote servers providing data storage space; apps on smartphones and tablets serve as meeting places. From there patients are examined and tests are prescribed. Results are visible to both provider and consumer. The results and implications can be discussed in real-time without another trip to doctors’ office. Medical records are accessible to both the patient and doctor on their smart devices.
When medical records are needed by another doctor, facility, or an emergency room; they are as far as patient’s smart device or a local computer with web access. The system allows patients and health care providers to make appointments. Referrals to other medical specialists on medical staff roster are available for both provider and consumer. Patient can therefore use their own doctor regardless of their geographic location. The system is HIPAA compliant.
The need to visit an ER or urgent care after hours is obviated when technology is smartly utilized. Via web or app patients can be seen, examined and tests requisitioned. If necessary, providers can travel to patient’s location to provide healthcare. Results of the tests can be seen by both patients and providers. Medications, even controlled substances, can be prescribed to pharmacy of patients’ choice. SMART care enables dinosaur technology like FAX to retire.
Providers and patients can request at-location medical care. System allows providers to set limits of travel by time and distance. There are options for other providers to render care if requested provider cannot. Elderly patients who depend on transportation to access medical care, parents with young families and those who cannot go to medical centers can stay in place for healthcare providers come to them. The development in AI enables health tech researchers to invigorate the intelligence of the system.
VITAE brings all the components of a modern healthcare system at a single place and, therefore, it couples with the SMART care system very well. The two together craft a healthcare ecosystem that closely corresponds to the requirements of consumers.
Smart health care would prevent the hospital systems from being clogged and make them more efficient for sicker and more acute patients. This approach would essentially enable the healthcare sector to markedly accelerate the process of healthcare provision – that too with a substantial efficacy.
SMART care is a solution to an inefficient and overburdened system.
It is efficient, empowering (both to patient and provider), increases patient catchment and financially sound.
Dr. Juma Bharadia is the Founder and CEO at mHospital.