Trends That Will Emerge In Healthcare Technology Post Covid-19

As the Regional Sales Director for Zebra Technologies for the Indian Sub-Continent, Deep Agarwal is responsible for growing Zebra's business in India. He is involved in developing and executing strategies in alignment with Zebra's goals. With more than 20 years of experience in the field, Deep brings with him his expertise in managing complex businesses and enterprise-level products and talent for business development.

Prior to the pandemic, India's healthcare industry was already facing a seemingly insurmountable number of challenges, from a huge population and staff shortages to rising costs. All these factors place tremendous pressure on India's institutions, doctors, workers, patients, and communities. The arrival of COVID-19, with its added load on hospitals, has only worsened the situation.

As the demand for more services and support are not sustainable with existing resources and methods, hospitals are increasingly turning to technology and automation like clinical mobility solutions to reduce the strain on their already fragile system. And we expect this trend of adopting technology to continue in the days ahead.

Clinical mobility solutions can ease the stress on the system, improve patient care, create workflow efficiencies, and enable the better utilization of limited resources. Thanks to the adoption of clinical mobility, hospitals around the world are eliminating manual, error-prone procedures and replacing them with digital solutions that increase the accuracy of patient identification, streamline processes, improve the quality of patient care and enhance overall visibility. By digitally capturing information, data can be transmitted in real time to clinical staff, reducing- even eliminating ­ errors and delivering critical time savings.

Major Gaps in the Indian Healthcare Infrastructure
According to a Price water house C-ooopers report, the Indian healthcare industry needs to pump in around 3.6 million doctors and 6 million nurses in the next 20 years. Presently, there are only 1.1 hospital beds, 0.7 doctors and 1.3 nurses per 1,000 people. Faced with this inadequacy, the gap has widened even further with the sudden outbreak of the pandemic.

It would be unrealistic to expect to train more healthcare personnel or build more hospitals or increase the number of hospital beds, within a relatively short time frame to cope with the sudden surge in patients due to the pandemic. However, it is possible to leverage on the right technology to enhance the efficiency of existing healthcare front-line staff and reduce errors that may have resulted from their fatigue.

For instance, the use of patient identity management and verification solutions will be able to reduce healthcare errors by ensuring that patients are connected to the right care at the right time, every time. Such solutions are built from a connected ecosystem of scanners, printers and supplies to help ensure treatments and medications are accurately administered.

The right technology can also instantly connect healthcare front-line workers amongst themselves to tap on each other's' assistance, when needed. It can also enable them with easy access to patient data, thereby allowing them to efficiently administer care anywhere in the healthcare facility. This can be achieved through mobile health technology like mobile devices, scanners and printers that seamlessly connect to empower healthcare workers with everything they need to administer flawless care-right from the patient's side.

Further, it is paramount that data throughout the healthcare facility is being captured accurately and properly. With the right information on hand, healthcare front-line workers will be able to make the right decisions in a timely and decisive manner, which is crucial in an environment when lives are at stake. Real-Time Locating Systems (RTLS) technology helps to connect diverse data into the kind of actionable insights that lead to optimal care. RTLS solutions help healthcare staff to identify, track, locate and monitor the condition of every patient, staff and asset in the healthcare facility, thereby enabling the healthcare facility with the business intelligence needed to help deliver better outcomes for their patients.

Technology Implementation at Drive-Through Testing COVID-19 Centres
During an infection outbreak, drive-through testing centers are invaluable for healthcare facilities. They allow workers to collect specimen samples from patients at high volumes and can contribute to reducing infection rates and ending the outbreak.

In establishing a drive-through testing center, safety is a top priority to prevent infection rates from rising. Therefore, workflows must be optimized to enable positive patient identification and proper specimen collection, testing and reporting. The process end-to-end must go as smoothly as possible to reduce long wait times.

Automating Workflows for Greater Testing Performance
Barcode technology - including scanners, label printers, handheld mobile computers, and software - help automate crucial processes like data capture, validation and reporting so drive-through testing centers can keep the line moving without jeopardizing patient care.

Immediate Data Capture for Speed and Safety
Scanning driver licenses or government-issued identifications with 1D, 2D or QR barcode scanners captures patient data to eliminate physical contact and increase infection control.

Identifications can be scanned through closed car windows, reducing infection exposure. The data does not require manual, key entry into devices, further reducing physical contact of any potentially contaminated surfaces.

Fast Positive Patient Identification and Specimen Sample Collection
Scanned data not only links patient identification to specimens, but also makes it easy to print specimen labels with correct data, allowing for specimen tracking and improved diagnostic times. The results are fast and accurate two-point validation checks between collecting and securing samples, and printing specimen labels.

Durable Devices for 24/7 "Always On" Use
The high-volume of patients in a drive-through testing center puts heavy wear and tear on critical devices and supplies. Durability features are essential: charging cradles and long-lasting batteries with hot-swappable battery power; ruggedized drop ratings; disinfectant-ready plastic; and quality-assured specimen labels.

Specimen identification errors can have detrimental impacts on patient health because they can delay, impede, or misdirect treatment options. Other negative consequences include increased costs of healthcare facility, longer patient stays, and damage to facility reputation.

Using barcoding for lab sample management prevents mistakes, improves patient safety, and streamlines laboratory operations. It allows healthcare centers and independent labs to achieve regulatory compliance, while also advancing staff retention and meeting fiscal constraints.

Barcode labeling of specimens not only delivers accuracy and error-prevention benefits at the point of care, the benefits extend into laboratory operations. Lab staff can scan barcodes to identify samples, record transfers and support test-result entry. Automated data entry is highly accurate, which improves patient safety by eliminating errors. As a side benefit, barcode sample identification and data entry also save time, enabling lab staff to spend more time on clinical rather than clerical activities, while helping to keep lab costs in check.

The pandemic has proven that the healthcare industry needs to embrace the right technology to cope with the sudden surge in patients.

That said, technology is not a replacement for medical front-line staff or hospital beds. Instead, it is a useful tool that serves to complement healthcare front-line staff by making them more efficient and reducing medical errors.

In the healthcare environment, especially at the A&E department of hospitals, time is critical. Any time savings or errors avoided will mean more lives can be saved.