Digital Health Records Could Re-Shape How Indians Manage Their Health

Sastry Chemudupaty, Co-Founder, Universal MedrecordzAn IIT - Madras alumnus, Sastry has held key leadership positions across diverse businesses in his career spanning over 25 years.

Rapid penetration of mobile internet has significantly changed the shopping habits of urban India. It is also poised to impact the Indian healthcare industry. Digital health records that can be instantly transmitted and securely shared over mobile handsets have the potential to reshape the way Indians manage their health. Consumers will be able to make informed and timely healthcare decisions in a convenient and cost-effective way. Absence of systematically organized health history is currently making diagnosis and treatment of individuals inefficient globally, and in India in particular. Individual and family health history, medications used in the past and those being used at the present, allergies (such as food, environment and medicine) and other information are typically stored in the patient's 'mind', challenging the doctors in making better diagnosis and recommending appropriate medicines for quick recovery.

Without a patient health record, especially during emergencies, precious time is lost on basic investigations and collecting other health information about the patient. A significant amount of time and money is also spent waiting at, and
traveling to, healthcare providers such as doctors, diagnostic centers and pharmacies. Utilization of specialist doctors and healthcare facilities in India is significantly lower and inefficient as compared with developed countries such as the U.S. Singapore and Germany.

Imagine a future where you do not have to wait at doctor’s clinic for a consultation, where you book your appointment with the doctor, and the doctor meets you at the agreed time

Pharmacies continue to dispense medicines off paper prescriptions from doctors. Regulations though are changing. Doctors are now required to write their prescriptions in block letters. Although many of them are not following the rule yet, it will not be long before they do that. Regulations requiring pharmacies to store copies of their patients’ prescriptions are also likely to come sooner than later. Imagine a future where you do not have to wait at all at a doctor’s clinic for a consultation. A future, where you book your appointment with the doctor, and the doctor meets you at the agreed time. A future, where the doctor writes the prescription on his/her mobile tablet and the prescription is automatically delivered to the pharmacy and/or the diagnostic center of your choice. A future, where the diagnostic center contacts you and deliver all its services to you at your home. A future, where you don’t have to spend time and money traveling to the diagnostic centre to pick up the results of your tests only because your doctor needs to see them. A future, where the results of your lab tests are delivered directly to both your and your doctor's mobile. A future where the doctor recommends follow-up actions digitally over the mobile handset. A future, where the pharmacy receives the digital prescription from the doctor and delivers the medicines to your home or readies them for you to pick up.

Such a future is not very far. Several companies are already working towards making that future happen. Some of them are looking at specific parts of the retail healthcare value chain, such as enabling doctor search and appointment booking, lab shopping and online pharmacy. Some others such as MedRecordz have a vision to automate the entire value chain. A vision where all health -related services are delivered to the patient’s home, letting the patient do what is most important, rest and recuperate. And the patient’s family attends to the patient. The future of the healthcare industry looks bright. The future of the healthcare industry looks digital.