Dear Doctor, tech is out to transform healthcare. Are you ready for it?

Dear Doctor,

iMAGE-FOR-hAELTHCARE-tECHNOLOGY-dISRUPTIONAs you are aware, technology is disrupting businesses and industries; professional practices like medical, may not be far behind. Move over e-mails, mobile apps, WhatsApp, mhealth, telemedicine, electronic health records – you’re becoming passé; healthcare is on the cusp of a transformation.

Air travelers have witnessed a transformation in customer convenience with online check-in and walk-in with printed boarding passes, with no more queuing at the airport check-in counters.  Taxi services have transformed with the advent of app-based taxi hailing services. Have people eagerly lapped up both these convenience services? You know they have.

Technology disruption is creeping into pathology, radiology and surgery. With data of thousands of patients, technology may be tuned for prognosis as well! Will this change the role of a pathologist or radiologist? It can and will. Among medical practices, Endocrinology and Cardiology are witnessing tech-driven monitoring system adoption by patients.

In the earlier stages of the technology boom, patients were reading about diseases and asking you questions; in the next stage they have technology as a companion for everyday monitoring. Wearable devices are becoming part of life. Online consultation and telemedicine is already a reality, changing the way people seek specialist opinion. Home care service providers are taking healthcare services to the patient’s doorstep, with hospitals to focus on tertiary care.

Two features where technology can disrupt the medical practice are technology adoption by practitioners and technology addressing patient concerns. In a consulting relationship, the paying partner expects the service provider to be knowledgeable and ahead of the curve to provide the right counsel. Can the practitioners allow a disparity in technology adoption to become the Achilles heels of the relationship, where the patient is ahead in terms of monitoring and the practitioner is still adept only at old practices? Secondly, patients have two major concerns about practitioners: the waiting time at doctor’s clinic,  and time spent by the doctor to clarify queries. If technology provides a platform to address these concerns, patients will be willing to consult those practitioners who adapt to save them time. In fast-paced cities, time is currency for people.

Artificial Intelligence, Data Analytics, Automation, Robotics are becoming buzzwords: it is interesting to watch what can be the implications for the practice of medicine.

But there’s a bigger question.

Are the practitioners for change?

I would love to know your views.


An observer.

(Noumaan Qureshi works with a leading public relations firm in Mumbai. Views expressed are personal).

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