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India is at the cusp of digital health transformation and the key is to successfully adopt and implement Electronic Medical Records (EMR). 

Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) are electronic records of health-related information of individuals that includes demographics, medical history, laboratory test results and information which can enable healthcare systems to provide the right treatment at the right time to patients.

If data is oil, then EMRs are healthcare’s oil. For several decades, EMRs have proven to be key to increasing quality in patient care, innovation in medicine through better clinical trials, and in driving financial efficiency in healthcare organisations through data analytics.

EMR Adoption in developed Countries like US 

Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA), has been responsible for ushering into the US healthcare system a new era of technology. The controversial law ignited an explosion of new digital health offerings and set the entire healthcare system on a path of advancement that will continue to extend access and increase the quality of healthcare administration for years to come. The ACA’s Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) provisions created tens of billions of dollars in incentives for healthcare providers to implement federally approved IT systems. These systems, in the US are known as Electronic Health Records (EHRs), and were key to healthcare reform that created the strongest platform to date for digital health innovation. Today, 96% of hospitals across the US have adopted EHRs.

Barriers to EMR adoption in India:

Despite being one of the world’s key economies, India’s EMR adoption has been slow. The major barriers in the adoption of EMR are: interoperability standards issues; allocation of funds ; low awareness of benefits; not recognising the importance of clinical data. There is high concern by the Government of India on adoption of EMR, but the momentum still needs to be built.

There is a misconception around EMRs, as they are perceived as just another compliance mandate and not seen as a tool that drives operational efficiency in healthcare systems. It directly improves patient care through faster turnaround time and adds to the top line of revenue. For individual providers, EMRs can provide a complete history of a patient’s health which leads to fewer clinical errors and better patient care outcomes.

  • Massive Change Management:

For decades, India’s healthcare system has been dependent on pen and paper, and going from paper to paperless in itself is a process that needs to be implemented smoothly. It requires seamless processes that enable healthcare providers to migrate from paper charts to digital records while providing the best care to the patients. However, this is a huge behaviour change and is difficult given the low doctor to patient ratio.

  • Complex user interfaces leading to additional administrative burden:

Most systems that doctors use to capture EMR have complicated user interfaces with a number of fields, buttons, drop down boxes, that makes usage complicated. In today’s highly stressful times, a doctor needs to spend minimal amounts of time on administrative tasks and more on patient care.

Role of technology to drive successful EMR adoption:

Given the fact that India is doing this adoption now when technology is so advanced, it needs to take a smarter approach to EMR adoption without adding additional administrative tasks on physicians.

India’s UPI moment in Healthcare: Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission:

The Indian Government is committed to improving the healthcare system and has introduced several visionary initiatives. One of the most anticipated projects is the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM) which aims to develop the backbone technology platform to support the integrated digital health infrastructure of the country. The nationwide rollout of this pilot project was announced by the Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on 27th September, 2021. ABDM is the first of its kind integrated healthcare data platform which solves the data interoperability issue between different healthcare providers as well as patients, a problem that has still not been resolved even in developed countries like the US. ABDM also aims to incentivise the digitising of current paper-based practices and adoption of EHRs/EMRs. The Indian government is not just bringing compliance, but also the right tech infrastructure to drive digitisation.

Voice AI enabled Dialogue with Data that saves time:

Solutions like a medical speech recognition software which enables doctors to speak rather than type can be a game-changer for EMR adoption. The time and effort required to record data often takes away the relevance of implementation of EMR. It is here that speech recognition tech can save time, cost and revenue. A software that uses VUI (Voice User Interface) can systematically record every dictated statement as it is, and even extract structured data for health systems, leaving no scope of error. As it is an additional task for doctors to key in a bunch of forms associated with EMRs, a speech recognition software can make EMR adoption a hassle-free process.

Partnership of tech start-ups with hospitals:

Technology companies and entrepreneurs, with their domain expertise on innovating advanced technology like AI and sophisticated user experience design, can partner closely with hospitals who have a sound knowledge of patient care to offer a complete solution that enhances the experience for both the doctor and the patient. This unison of expertise can accelerate EMR adoption and lead to better use of data in EMRs without adding additional burden on doctors.



Views expressed above are the author’s own.



Views expressed above are the author’s own.




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