April 2007

IT is Healthy to Change

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Electronic health records is an idea whose time has come, notwithstanding the continual barbs harping on patient anonymity being directed at it from sections of medical fraternity. If a potent idea has pitfalls, we should remove the pitfalls, not scrap the idea.

The concept of EHR has been translated into a reality but its application is still in the nascent stages in the west. We should strive to develop a common low cost electronic healthcare records (EHCR) system in India. A common EHCR system will not only save money and hassles of the patient, but would also facilitate medical assistance to the patient in a big way. Among other things, electronic health records can also aid in the medical research through paving the way for analysis of various diseases and thereby facilitate development of a warning system, devised from trends of occurrence of diseases. There are positive ramifications for the health insurance and pharmaceutical sectors too. Of course there will be challenges in constituting a common EHCR, but the possibilities too are immense, which we have discussed in detail in our Cover Story. Ultimately it is more a question of political will than technological and financial bottlenecks.

India should celebrate its progress on the highway of information technology and its positive impacts on the medical arena. One such recent indicator is the tie-up between Apollo Hospital Group and IBM to develop 'Healthcare Super Highway'. The project aims to develop an online professional platform for doctors across the globe. The success of this project is expected to benefit more than 500,000 physicians across the globe by enabling them to interact and exchange their information, knowledge and expertise. We hope for the success of such innovative endeavours.

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