5 Hospital Infrastructure development trends post COVID
By:Mr. Mark Matthews, COO, NF Healthcare India The pandemic has been a rude wake up call for the country’s healthcare infrastructure, highlighting challenges ranging from availability of skilled doctors and technicians, availability of well equipped ICU
By:Mr. Mark Matthews, COO, NF Healthcare India
The pandemic has been a rude wake up call for the country’s healthcare infrastructure, highlighting challenges ranging from availability of skilled doctors and technicians, availability of well equipped ICU beds, availability of medical oxygen, and the supply of vital medicines and vaccines. Even as the memories of the brutal 2nd wave of the pandemic continue to haunt both medical professionals and families of patients, the lessons learnt have been precious enough to ignore. And just like world economies and businesses are wasting no time to bounce back, the new normal is rife with the learnings from the pandemic, and has called for newer innovations and upgradations in the traditional way of working, and living. Similarly, both public and private hospitals, which were at the epicentre of COVID care and treatment, have also embraced key tech enabled innovations, that are set to transform the medical and healthcare infrastructure in the country, for the better. Listed here are 5 key tech enabled infrastructure upgradations that hospitals are turning to, so as to be better equipped and prepared in the face of another wave of a pandemic:
- Digitisation of processes: One of the key challenges that hospitals faced when dealing with a high load of patients during the pandemic, was patient management and matching them to hospital resources. With digitisation of processes, across the entire value chain – initial consultation, diagnostic services, admission, patient management, discharge and follow-up, can be digitised, so as to simplify, and accelerate the processes, with minimal manual intervention. Digitisation also helps to effectively collect and analyse patient data, thereby reducing the turnaround time and enhancing the efficacy of treatment. In case of the COVID pandemic, digitisation is even more crucial as it allows hospital staff and patients to adhere to minimal physical contact when interacting for completing formalities
- Automation of critical care functions: The ICU and the critical care units were the real battle grounds of COVID! A well equipped ICU bed comes with a set of pre-requisite tools and monitors, including ones for monitoring, assisted breathing etc. Occasionally, based on the need of patients, additional support systems may be added. Often it is left to the specialized hospital staff and ICU nurses to keep a check on the readings, note them manually, adjust them based on the patients condition and notify the doctor for future course of action. Integrating these functions and automating the process can not only save time and human effort but also make the process prompt, accurate and effective.
- Agile in-house supply for medical Oxygen: Oxygen shortage was one of the leading causes of high fatalities during the second wave. Patients and hospitals were seen relying heavily on external supply of medical oxygen cylinders to meet the high demand for oxygen. However, PSA Oxygen generators have emerged as a reliable and viable option and most hospitals are now looking to install the same in their premise. PSA Oxygen benefits, like enhanced purity, ability to scale up production when needed and scale down during low demand, safety and low maintenance, have all made this a must have in all modern hospitals with ICU beds. Integrating PSA oxygen generators with the digitised ecosystem of the hospital, can go a long way in leveraging the best in modern in-patient critical care infrastructure.
- Smart Inventory management for medicine supply: Lack of medicine supply was another vital issue faced during the pandemic. And while high demand was a genuine issue with some of the well managed hospitals, a sheer lack of mis-management or lack of organised inventory, was a cause of medicine shortage for others. Leveraging technology to keep track, re-stock and manage inventory in hospitals, can go a long way to ensure a hospital would rarely be out of stock of life saving medicines.
- Virtual consultations and remote treatments : Last but not the least, virtual consultations are another key feature of the evolution of Health Tech, brought about by COVID. And while the virtual consultations, telemedicine and even virtual surgeries have been around for a while, these had largely been conducted in silos and on a need base only. Creating a well equipped virtual video calling set-up that is also integrated with patient data files, can go a long way in making virtual consultations effective. Making this a general norm would not only reduce the load of patients walking into a hospital on a daily basis, but will also help reduce the treatment turnaround time, create more comfort for patients, and ensure a smooth patient experience.
In line with the above, it is important to note that while positive government policies are being introduced to strengthen the healthcare infrastructure in the country, armed also with a supportive FDI policy, it is at the end of the day, the responsibility of the hospital to take the requisite steps to implement the new innovations and become self reliant.