Wednesday, May 12, 2010

As a Doctor I want to use technology to be able to … an Indian perspective…

As we improve our software products and work with more doctors, we are learning a lot about what doctors in India want from information technology . How do Indian Doctors view IT as an enabler ?

In theory, one would expect doctors to want to use IT for the following applications.

1. Computer Based Medical Records (EMR)
2. Clinical Information Sharing Networks
3. Clinical Decision Support
4. Administrative Functions – Accounts and Patient Profile Management
5. Computer Generated Prescriptions
6. Better Patient Communication and Care

However, what the practicing doctor wants in real life is quite different !

So what does the typical doctor’s list look like?

1. Accounts and (Mis)-Management

Indian Doctors give a lot of importance to accounting in their Clinic Software; they expect the package to bill as per their requirement. Unfortunately, because many of them do not always want to declare all their income , they want the software to provide “deductions” . We have to educate them that a good package will help them to improve their cash flow and collections by allowing them to track their patient inflow so that they know what business they are generating on a regular basis. Intelligent software will help to prevent embezzlement and will discourage the office staff from pocketing the doctor’s hard earned money ( which is easy to do , since this is still a predominantly a cash business today)

2. Referrals Management

Referring patients to specialists and other clinicians is a common practice the world over, but in India it has an additional financial angle. Doctors want to know how many patients they were referred and by whom, so that they can make the necessary payments back to the referring doctors.

3. Medical History

Doctors want easy access to their patient’s information to help them make better medical decisions. While they are happy about the fact that the software gives them instant access to the patient’s medical records, they are still reluctant to use clinical decision support tools, as they would rather depend upon their clinical ability, than use a computer .

4. MIS ( Management Information System( Reports and Patient Registers

MIS reports and registers are a commonly requested feature . Sadly the uninitiated ones forget that data first needs to be entered properly , so that it can be intelligently extracted. The reasons for the MIS reports are both noble (research purposes) and mundane (for filing income tax returns) .The biggest challenge here is designing forms and data capture mechanisms which give useful reports. Often , there is a big disconnect, when doctors design incomplete templates , and still expect to be able to generate relevant data ! . Garbage In = Garbage Out !

5. Custom Designed Templates

Plus91’s software has designed so that doctors can customize their own templates , to suit their personal preferences.. Doctors love this feature, as each one wants to design something as per their own workflow.

What of the future ? We hope that as the Indian doctor matures and becomes more comfortable with using IT, he will want the following features as well.

a. Clinical Decision Support

b. Computerized Prescriptions

c. SMS/Email alerts and reminders

d. Online EMRs

e. Insurance Claims Management

Plus91 software is already built to provide these enhancements, which will give a definite boost to the quality and efficiency of their practice , and also help them to improve their profitability.

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