The Relationship Between ICT and EMRs
In an emerging economy like India, the health sector’s performance is often suboptimal due to an increased burden of factors like underdevelopment, political instability, weak institutions, inadequately developed social sectors, scarcity of resources, and marked social inequalities. With low-cost innovation, cheap mobile handsets and more ‘inclusive’ solutions filling in crucial gaps in health information and access, technology has a potential to grow capacity in this sector tremendously.
Continuing from our previous blog post, we would like to familiarise you with the birth of Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) in India, which starts by knowing a little bit about Information and Communications Technology (ICT). The term ICT is used to refer to the convergence of audio-visual and telephone networks with computer networks through a single link system.
India’s Healthcare sector is poised for major growth in the next decade. With more growth, comes more information, and with more information, comes a very real possibility of more confusion. To combat this and avoid a loss of vital data, there is a need to extensively adopt the use of ICT for the following reasons:
- ICT is the basis of Electronic Medical Records as it merges technology with maintaining medical information in an easy-to-use manner.
- To ensure that medical policies are well understood, interpreted and implemented, all practices are consistent and standardised.
- To ensure transparency in all operations.
- To ensure that important information about patients (medical records, private records, prescribed medication, etc) is not scattered about and is instead kept in one place, where it can be accessed from various sources, but under supervision.
- To allow for the effective use of international experience and the world’s best practices in information management.
- With different vendors using different standards for similar or same systems, it is not surprising all-round inefficiency, waste and errors in healthcare information are common. ICTs ensure standardisation across institutions and users of EMRs.
- To allow EMRs to support better follow-up information for patients – for example, after a visit to a doctor’s clinic or hospital stay, instructions and information for the patient can be effortlessly provided and reminders for other follow-ups care can be sent easily or even automatically to the patient. Patients can also have their prescriptions ordered and their insurance claims registered and ready even before they leave the clinic/hospital.
- To allow studies to be carried out across the country, thereby generatings more accurate statistics to present to international bodies about India’s healthcare sector.
The benefits of incorporating ICT in healthcare include better access to complete and accurate electronic health records that collect information to improve diagnoses, prevent errors, and save precious response times, lead to greater engagement of patients in their own healthcare, improve knowledge of the population at large in a diverse country like India, and usher in increased administrative efficiency in a country where the public health infrastructure is in a mess.