Pharmaceuticals: Untapped Opportunity for EHR-Telemedicine Platforms
In a country that has gigantic population of around 1.3 billion, EHR can have a crucial and decisive impact upon patient care in India, especially in a situation that we currently are in: a virus outbreak
Electronic Health Record (EHR) platforms in India are far from serving the purpose they are built for. To generate revenue for sustenance, many of these platforms now also provide telemedicine services. The question is: Can they sustain themselves in the longer run?
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted once again the importance of Electronic Health Record (EHR) platforms and how they can positively impact healthcare outcomes.
In a country that has gigantic population of around 1.3 billion, EHR can have a crucial and decisive impact upon patient care in India, especially in a situation that we currently are in: a virus outbreak.
Why the need of EHR platforms?
EHR platforms were built with the purpose to gather large amount of patient data that could be leveraged using Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques to learn disease patterns, predict onset of ailments, suggest seasonal outbreaks, resulting in better management of health problems.
Think of an effective EHR solution in the face of coronavirus outbreak. If India had a robust EHR system in place, then the section of people bracketed in risk zone like those with heart problems, diabetes, low immunity, could have been dealt with more precision and delivered better care, in case of an emergency.
In this disaster-like situation when our healthcare facilities are overwhelmed, EHR could have potentially reduced the burden.
EHR: The state of affairs in India
The term EHR has existed merely to capture and keep records of billing and medical registrations at healthcare facilities in the country. It hasn’t taken off as an effective tool to collate data for analysis purposes, and help evolve the concept of predictive treatment.
EHR, for the common masses to understand, is basically a collection of health information of patients - like medication history of a patient, allergies that he has from certain medicines, various treatments that he has undergone and also the results of the treatments - stored in a digital format. These records can be simultaneously shared online across various locations and with different individuals and institutions in a very convenient manner, helping healthcare facilitators come to conclusions and inferences faster.
Despite the fact that EHR can play such a crucial role in improving the state of healthcare, its adoption in the country, which is betting big on AI in healthcare, is dismal.
EHR platforms turning towards telemedicine for revenue
The real challenge around adoption is the cost associated with EHR platforms. To keep the costs low, they are being used by healthcare institutions for basic purposes of record keeping.
In this scenario, most of the EHR platforms in the country have jumped into providing telemedicine services, and vice versa, to generate extra cash. The picture still remains grim as they are: one, losing focus as a business and not solving problems they are intended to fix in healthcare; and two, they aren’t still making enough money out of the dual role they are playing. They are still starving for cash.
These two businesses – EHR and telemedicine - should ideally be run separately as they are solving different problems of the healthcare industry in India. But low revenue continues to be a stumbling block for players in both the segments, and even for those who are serving doctors and patients both through EHR and telemedicine, respectively.
Pharmaceuticals: A viable solution
What is interesting is that these platforms have Doctors. Pharmaceutical brands are always trying out different mediums to reach out to doctors to showcase their products and services.
With the spike in popularity of doctor-only digital platforms, whether it is an EHR platform or a telemedicine platform, they can act as a powerful medium for pharmaceutical brands to reach out to doctors. They can cash in on the opportunity and partner with them for letting their products marketed to doctors on their respective platforms. Doctors also appreciate the messaging from brands that is contextual, especially at a time when medical representatives are not able to reach them.
And rather than acting as a standalone entity, these platforms can partner with integrated doctor engagement platforms like Doceree that can help maximize their monetization effort by opening up their marketing-messaging spaces to multiple pharmaceutical brands, who would bid in a real time for that space for a banner messaging or a video messaging display.
When the platforms do not have to worry about cash generation, they can focus on the problem they really intend to fix in healthcare and make an all-out effort towards achieving that.
That will be a good news for India - platforms not worrying about cash generation, but focusing on solving the real problems in healthcare.