Sunday, January 9, 2011

Hospital Management and Technology

Healthcare in India is a a fairly dis-organized sector. At the same time, it continues to receive a lukewarm support from government. As can be expected, a few private institutions have started playing a key role in bringing about much required transformation in this sector. And not very surprisingly, they are leveraging technology to bring about this transformation.

More and more doctors are preferring to play critical role in 'management' of the hospitals. They realize that just providing care to patients by right diagnosis is not enough. With growing incomes in India, patient demand for an 'experience' at hospitals is growing. It' not about the medical treatment alone - but how did the ward boy treat me, what kind of food was served to me, was my medical claim processed quickly, was my bill settlement done on time, did I receive the right kind of advise, what kind of doctors participate in a hospital, do I get my medical records when I get discharged.....all of this plays a factor in people' minds when they visit or get admitted to a hospital. All of this calls for a serious effort spent on 'management' of hospital and it' resources.

Hospital management are getting smarter. They realize that - Healthcare also has to be dealt with smartly. Smart use of technology can not only save money but also deliver better results to the patients - thereby giving them an 'experience'!!! After all, who does not want a happy customer!!!!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The need for Employee EHR (eEHR)…

An Employee Health Record refers to any health / medical -related information created, obtained, or maintained by the organization regarding an employee’s physical or mental condition. This may include –
-          Results of medical exams and tests (Scans, Pathology Tests)
-          Medical History
-          Insurance Documents
-          Hospitalization Documents
-          Medical Certificates / Doctors’ Notes / Opinion of other Healthcare Providers, etc.
An eEHR means that all of the above can be accessed through a computer – may be on a local machine or over the internet.
Looking at the most obvious reasons – promoting employee wellness, preventing spread of communicable diseases, reducing stress load – on the whole creating a health / safe working environment - most organizations understand the importance of monitoring employee health.
Hence companies generally mandate at least, a once a year, health check-up for its employees.   Some companies also opt for a more segmented approach – advising health check-up for employees depending on their age, work load, etc.
Managing the records is really important – to ensure systematic control from creation or receipt through processing, distribution, maintenance, retrieval, retention, and final disposition.
However, taking care of all these in physical files can be quite a task,,, for both employers who have low attrition rates (will have a lot of accumulated information) as well those with high attrition rates (you will have less papers but more files).
Walk in – need for eEHR – accessing / managing these records through a computer can make life simpler. For starters – no more file cabinets, all information is stored in one place, can be easily searched and retrieved. You don’t have to worry about losing a file – it just seems much more organized. Moreover, if the system is web based, you will higher flexibility – sharing of records will become much of easier and there will no geographical limitation to the access.
Having said that - the system must take care of the security concerns – file encryption, audit trails / logs can be some measures taken.
Nonetheless, eEHR certainly seems like a good support tool for employee management. 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

ACM forms a SIG on Health Informatics

From today, a new Special Interest Group has been formed by ACM on Health Informatics: SIGHIT that is concerned with the application of computing and information science principles and techniques, and information and communication technologies, to address issues in healthcare and the delivery of healthcare services as well as the related social and ethical issues. SIGHIT emphasizes the computing and information science-related aspects of health informatics and provides a forum for the creation, sharing, and management of knowledge and techniques as a strategic resource for improving the field of health informatics and its impact on people's lives.
I am fortunate to be the first Editor for its biennial Newsletter - SIGHIT Record that will be published every year in March and September.
Hoping to be enlightened on various health informatics activities that will ultimately help in changing our healthcare delivery systems for the better.