Aditi Shenoy

PhD Candidate in Protein Bioinformatics and Machine Learning

Could these global health problems soon become your problems?

Posted at — Apr 24, 2020

Across the world, technologies are being increasingly used to maximize productivity in the clinical space. Being a part of this change and learning to adapt to it would be of utmost importance in the coming years with the pressing challenges of the current healthcare systems in the world.

With the global population touching 7.6 billion, the pressure on the healthcare system is constantly increasing. The medical staff and facilities are limited but the number of individuals seeking medical care is ever-increasing. How could one propose to solve this funnel problem?

Moving towards patient-centric and self-care approach:

By enabling patients to take care of themselves and focusing more on preventive care instead of being subject to the extensive and tiring routine of medical treatments, the influx of need of medical services could massively decrease. Additionally, the strength of a health care system is not determined by the number of healthcare centres the country has, it is determined by the well-being of its citizens and to make do with the existing medical centres sufficiently.

This approach would allow for a healthy independent population and thereby reduction in a nations’ gross expenditure on diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions.

Revolutionising financing of health care:

Depending on the national policy, the financing of healthcare has country-specific variability. In countries like India, medical expenditure is mostly ‘out-of-pocket’ payments. Whereas, in countries like Sweden, most health care costs are publicly funded through municipal taxes or as in the American system, where medical services are paid by both private and public insurance.

Patients could be charged for the value of the medical care received as opposed to the quantity of services provided. Achieving this while imparting high quality of care is essential. Therefore, the focus is on moving from volume-based care to value-based care.

Interoperability of medical information:

Another challenge our current medical system faces, is the inability to transfer information from one healthcare organisation to another, due to incompatibility of documentation formats. This leads to re-documenting the data multiple times at different locations requiring massive storage space. Currently, there are medical terminologies like SNOMED CT and ICD 10 which help clinicians with classifications during diagnosis and documentation. However, not all organisations use a single terminology and many of them are undergoing a change in ICT systems to adapt to SNOMED CT. Mapping of these terminologies from old to the new system is proving to be another major hurdle.

If large and small-scale businesses work in synergy with health care organisations to address these challenges of the current healthcare system (keeping the context of the country in mind) massive progress in providing patients with patient-centric, affordable and quality care could be possible.

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