Digital Health Ecosystem
As we quote the famous saying “The physician-patient relationship is forever changing now more than ever with the rise of access to data”, a lot of people wonder what’s this dynamic change in the world full of surprises with regards to the health sector. But the technology that was lately developed and seemingly exhausted, the health sector is also under its ambit. Who imagined that once the health sector in its entirety would be shifted to a digitized mode? Technology has acted as a driving force in all the fields but one that remains still a big surprise for many is its deep-rooted impact on the health sector. Health care has also been experiencing a lot of shifts and turns in the past few decades. The Healthcare system for a long time has been organization-centric with the providers who are the physicians in the centers and the patient had to adjust. However, now there has been a transition, with the entire system being patient-centric. Now the patient wants to be treated no less than a customer. They want to be heard and want personalized solutions for their problems. With this note, we would discover the possibilities, and opportunities including various advantages and disadvantages of the digital health ecosystem.
As discussed above digital health ecosystem is a place that is patient-centric and aims to provide health care services to the patients using digital mechanisms. The primary goal of this system is to provide a medium for cross-organizational, multidisciplinary, and collaborative healthcare delivery. It also promotes interoperability by allowing intercommunication among various health experts. The setup is simple for one living in the 21st century consisting of an active internet connection and a platform for accessing health services.
The discovery of the digital health care system would help in mitigating the current health system problems with the focus being entirely on acute patient diagnosis and treatment instead of focusing maturely on prevention and wellness mechanisms. The biggest question is how the digital healthcare ecosystem creates a paradigm shift in the the healthcare industry. The answer to this question however lies in the question itself. Yes, it has shifted for real by creating a possibility of home recovery, easy management of chronic illness, post-discharge care, and patient empowerment with multiple healthcare stakeholders. Most importantly it helps in combating the unsustainable healthcare cost curves. In a nutshell, it provides necessary quality, access, safety, and cost efficiency for the health sector.
The digital health system includes 3 players which are also referred to as 3Ps of the ecosystem. First are the providers which cover the hospitals, laboratories, and pharmacies. Patients look up to their doctors with blind faith and bona fide trust, and with recent consumption patterns the demand for services surging, with fewer providers, society, in turn, is threatened. The digital health ecosystem helps in reducing the burden faced by the providers by considerable amounts by enabling them to work as a team and have a better track of the patient’s recovery rates. Second, are the patients which apparently are the actual drivers in the digital healthcare ecosystem. The world is no longer seeing the curative care model wherein the physicians come into the picture when patient experiences any chronic illness, rather there has been a shift to the preventive model. The patients get the benefits of personalized problem-specific treatment without the pressure of rushing to the hospitals at the very emergency situations. The newly constituted healthcare system alerts them in advance of any health issue. The third and final players are the payers who most of the time are the same as the patients. With the advancement of the health sector and among all the gains, the only and most problematic one is the excessive cost. The digital-based system focuses on not just assuring the best possible treatment but that too at the lowest possible cost, shooting two birds with a single bullet as we call it.
The health sector which is currently in its most developing stage has experienced a consumer-facing system in the latest digital model. This system basically covers digital access points like portals and messaging devices to get instant treatments. The new system will also help in improving the relationship between caregivers and payers by understanding the exact nuances of their problems due to multiple interactions. The new ecosystem offers a real-time data exchange among all the people and the pharmacies can also have a real-time track of the prescriptions. The healthcare system that we have been looking till now was full of pitfalls and disturbances, however these challenges were more or less mitigated through the digital interactions. The biggest evil was the remote access to healthcare where the urban can get benefit of a fruitful health solutions but the rural get nothing but long distances to travel and thus increasing health care costs. In fact, in countries like US, the Medicare reimbursement program process has also been simplified with the help of electronic health records which apparently is the child of the digital health system. The cloud-based data systems have also simplified the taxing task of managing multiple databases of patients at a single time. The pen-paper approach used by clinics not just adds errors but also makes the entire process too time-consuming. The digital platforms are at least free from the clutches of human error and can thus pave a way of safe keeping the data.
To sum up the statement we as a world need to be wiser and more vigilant and start with the adoption of digital health systems at a considerable level. Countries like China already saw it as an opportunity to induce this treatment back in 2020 only when covid hit us all hard. It’s high time that we stop our dependence on traditional and conventional treatment curves and instead focus on making it a digital system. Why just look for a digital economy if there is a scope that’s even wider for the digital health ecosystem?
By Vaibhav Aggarwal
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