“If I ask people what they want, they’ll say faster horses” is an oft-quoted phrase by Henry Ford. These words are a profound reminder of the power of innovation and the ability to transcend the status quo!
In healthcare, we find ourselves at a critical juncture. The urgent need to provide high-quality care for all is clear—but we have largely tried to do so within the confines of existing solutions paradigms, which have been unsuccessful for decades. The question we have to ask ourselves is, are we trying to make our horses run as fast as cars?
Access to quality critical care for all, anytime, anywhere: a far cry from reality
Providing quality healthcare to the people of India with its large population and diverse landscape is challenging. In intensive care or intensive care unit care, the situation worsens. This is an area where care needs to be provided immediately, as every minute counts for patient outcomes. As a result, transporting and transferring patients to “better and bigger” centers for care is often not ideal — instead, patients need to be empowered to receive the care they need within their community. This was evident during the first two years of the COVID crisis. Critically ill patients often lose their lives because they cannot access nearby facilities that can provide them with the care they need. Providing critical care is a challenging and complex task that requires doctors and nurses with skills to rapidly assess and manage complex patients. It takes a care provider years to acquire these skills and a constant, 24/7, presence of this level of expertise; in critical situations, things can change in a second. Unfortunately, in India, nine out of ten ICU patients do not have access to this level of expertise when they need it.
Technology as an enabler: from horses to cars
In today’s intensive care units, even when patients are critically ill, there is a wealth of data that, if used properly, can help improve patient management. However, technology is not used to monitor and prevent critical events as much as possible. Similar to how smartphones are changing access to communications, financial services, information, and more, technology in the form of Smart-ICU can bring high-quality care to critically ill patients. In addition to digitizing patient data in real-time and harnessing the power of technology and data science, Smart-ICU facilities effortlessly combine technology and healthcare, enabling trained remote doctors and nurses to support patients regardless of their location and time how or day. These expert teams located in the care centers have access to all patient data, including vital signs, lab reports, scans, radiology, patient histories, and high-definition video of those patients. All of this data can be processed through the analytics engine of the Smart-ICU platform so that a remote team of experts can oversee patient management 24/7, improve the quality of patient care, and save the lives of vulnerable patients wherever possible with Smart – ICU allows any hospital, anywhere, to provide world-class intensive care to its patients. Technology used in this way is an excellent equalizer that can lower the barriers to high-quality, cost-effective care for patients.
Smart Intensive Care Units: Connected Care is the Way Forward
The smart ICU setup is connected to a central unit with super-specialist doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals who manage patients 24/7. Because Smart-ICU rooms are equipped with powerful cameras, and the Smart-ICU platform collects and organizes data for easy access, patients can be monitored and managed remotely; doctors and nurses can access clinical data in real-time for immediate decision-making. Patient data is exchanged with more distant professionals in a secure and private manner, allowing rapid intervention to save lives. Smart-ICU provides timely, standardized care for critically ill patients, increases access to critical care, and efficiently utilizes limited resources to serve a larger percentage of the population.
Groundbreaking technology is delivering critical healthcare to patients who previously had no access to it. Such systems and technologies are being adopted across the country, leading to better outcomes for patients and saving lives.
Enhancing Patient Care: Providing Access, Quality and Affordability
In 2022, the pace of change in the way we live and work is changing rapidly as technology permeates every aspect of our lives. We must harness the power of this change to positively impact the care our critically ill patients receive. This will require a paradigm shift in healthcare delivery, with doctors, nurses and hospitals having to move from business as usual to better, newer and safer ways of receiving care for critically ill patients. In an era where payment transactions, food delivery and communications can kill two birds with one stone, patients in need of intensive care should not lose their lives because of lack of access to quality care. Every patient, no matter where they are, deserves the care they need. Now is the time to act!
The views expressed above are the author’s own.
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