Author: Vishal Rane

Healthcare in India – The Great Rural and Urban Divide

India is the second most populated country in the world with almost a fifth of the world’s population residing here. Its changing socio-political-demographic and morbidity patterns have been drawing global attention in recent years. In spite of several growth-orientated policies adopted by the government, the ever widening economic, regional and gender disparities are posing challenges for the health sector. According to a report by the United Nations, close to 75% of health related infrastructure, medical manpower and other health resources are concentrated in only urban areas where 27% of the population resides, leaving the poorest of the population in rural areas to face a variety of access barriers. The health status of rural Indians, is still a cause for grave concern.

Ideally, everyone should be able to conveniently and confidently access services such as primary care, dental care, behavioural health, emergency care, and public health services. According to a UN report, access to healthcare is important for:

  • Overall physical, social, and mental health status
  • Prevention of disease
  • Detection and treatment of illnesses
  • Quality of life
  • Preventable death
  • Life expectancy

However, taking into consideration the present scenario, Indian rural health care faces a crisis unmatched in any other social sector. Nearly 86% of the entire medical visits to urban hospitals in India are made by rural population with majority still travelling more than 100 km to avail health care facilities. 70-80% of such expense is borne out of pocket, which more often than not lands them in poverty.

This lack of access to healthcare affects population health and patient well-being in the long run. As patients have to travel long distances for specialized treatment, they may decide to postpone or forego care from a specialist due to the burdens of cost and long travel times. These unmet healthcare needs may include preventive and screening services, proper treatment of illnesses etc., which can have long-term consequences or even prove fatal.

Health literacy impacts a patient’s ability to understand health information and instructions from their healthcare providers. This is also a huge barrier to accessing healthcare in rural communities, where lower educational levels and higher incidents of poverty often impact the population.

Though the existing infrastructural setup for providing health care in rural India is on a right path, yet both the quality and quantity of support that’s available for primary health care facilities is far less than what is defined by the World Health Organization as acceptable.

This can be managed with focusing on skill up gradation and capacity development of the current health facilities in rural areas. The disparities between rural & urban areas to access health care services are alarming. We can dream of healthy India only when the rural health is taken care of. India spends a measly 1.2% of its GDP on the healthcare sector. In comparison, almost 21% of USA’s GDP is spent on the healthcare sector alone. There is an urgent need to meet the challenges of non-availability of quality health services in remote rural regions. There is an immediate requirement to transform the current health care system into an accountable, accessible and affordable system of quality services. There are plenty of programs and policies run by the government for promoting a healthy infrastructure that’s designed to provide access to medical facilities for every individual. However, there still exists a lacuna when it comes to procedures and new practices, which inhibits updated healthcare practices to reach the rural parts of India.

Rural healthcare is in such shambles because no doctors or their families can live in the rural areas with absolutely zero social infrastructures. Also, Doctors in rural areas have no or limited access to continuing medical education (CME) opportunities.

As people in rural areas don’t have enough means to travel long distances and take preventive health care from urban areas, healthcare sector is now using telemedicine solutions to increase the reach of its services to such population. Telemedicine improves access to rural patients along with allowing physicians and health facilities to expand their reach, beyond their own offices. The astounding developments in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) particularly the web-based technologies have opened up exciting new possibilities for health care across the world. These developments have significantly improved access to healthcare in remote and rural areas. 

The real challenge for the country is to reach 100% access to quality health care.



An App that Fills the Gap in Laparoscopic Surgery Training and Education

The use of mobile devices has become increasingly popular in almost every aspect of life. Whether it is for communication, education, or recreation, they are progressively being seen as complimenting – if not replacing – the age-old personal computer. However, mobile devices are not limited to the personal space. We have now seen their emerging use in healthcare, which comprises of diverse issues to solve clinical problems and surgical education. Expanding access to the latest medical research at the point-of-care to communicating with surgeons globally in real time, surgery is now practiced in a technological era. We found that 94 % of Indian laparoscopic surgery trainees own a smartphone, with 61 % owning an iPhone. 89 % of trainees questioned had downloaded medical apps and used them regularly during clinical activities.

As mobile communications and related apps thrive, it is essential for surgeons to remain well informed. The emerging use of apps and mobile technologies in the healthcare setting has the potential to improve patient safety and reduce the alarming trend of rising medical error rates. Sometimes, finding apps that are relevant and useful can be a challenge. However, with LapGuru app that’s now available on the app store, this hurdle has largely been overcome. LapGuru app is designed to assist in point-of-care decisions, medical education and surgical training for Laparoscopic surgeons. While years of medical school are intended to prepare doctors for the operating room, the benefits of shared information and insights from seniors and colleagues working in the real world can’t be ignored. LapGuru app helps surgeons leverage this shared knowledge in multiple ways. Updates occur daily to provide the latest and most relevant information to the users.

LapGuru app currently features more than 2500 live surgery videos. Surgeons and their residents can refresh their knowledge of operative anatomy when preparing for procedures. It puts instant updates at surgeons’ fingertips when reference books may not be practical. For example, if you want to learn lap chole, there are more than 300 videos that probably show you all the possible variations that you will typically encounter in a lap chole. It applies to hernia, bariatric or any other procedure as well. It offers opportunities for surgeons to support preoperative, intraoperative and postoperative care. For trainees, this app is vital to satisfy surgical training requirements and may assist surgeons with documentation for practice purposes. Surgeons can also comment and ask questions while a live surgery transmission. They can also watch CME conferences live via the app.

There is ample opportunity for technology to advance healthcare on multiple levels. Empowering surgeons with the right tools allows them to play a more proactive role in patient care as they can have access to wider medical knowledge. As the next generation of technology-oriented laparoscopic surgeons progress through training and begin practicing, it appears inevitable that LapGuru app popularity and desirability will only grow.  LapGuru app will help improve surgical performance and safety, thus increasing the quality of medical care.




Experience Healthcare Simplicity

Digital Technology has surfaced as the real force behind the transformation of India, and interventions using technology have transformed several industries, including banking, telecom, transportation, taxation etc. but healthcare continues to lag behind other industries in using technology with patients and doctors. Today, discoveries in medical science, advances in medical technologies, and enhancements in clinical practices are occurring at an increasingly rapid rate. Yet because of a fragmented healthcare delivery system, many patients are unable to benefit from these developments. It’s time we use technology as a force to drive major improvements in healthcare. At Meditorch Technologies, we have designed a platform called LapGuru that can help in achieving the 3 As of healthcare: accessibility, affordability and availability in Laparoscopic surgery through education, training and practice.

Healthcare suffers from the unintended consequences of continued prevalence of medical laxity. What happens at times is that the very solutions that were implemented to solve specific issues become the basis for further unanticipated problems. For example, a laparoscopic surgeon has to upgrade his knowledge and skill on a regular basis. In order to achieve excellence in his profession, he is required to enroll in various professional courses which could also mean that he may have to leave practice for a while to travel to a certain place to do a certain course. And if he has to manage so many things before he could join a course, he would probably think not to join it at all. So, these courses will have less participation, which is detrimental to the medical education system. But with LapGuru, there is no such challenge. Laparoscopic doctors can get access to the latest developments in laparoscopic surgeries at the click of a button. The benefits of enhanced knowledge and skill are transferred to the patient through better outcomes.

There is enormous potential for digital technology to improve many aspects of how we look at healthcare training and outcome. Digital learning and training tools have a definite role to play in not just training more doctors and enhancing their skills, but also enable them to deliver superior care to their patients. Prospects for using mobile technology have improved significantly in the last few years with the increase in the number of smartphone and tablet users. LapGuru platform and app enables the doctors to use digital technology to research information online, share experiences and identify treatment options, anytime, anywhere.

The increase in capability and decrease in costs of the technology means that financial barriers are becoming less of a concern. For example, medical seminars and conferences are considered an important learning tool for doctors. Many doctors, especially in rural areas can’t attend them just because they can’t afford the high expenses, i.e. spend a lot of money on travel and accommodation beside the regular fees for attending the seminar or conference. This is especially true for the doctors in developing countries. But with live video conferencing, LapGuru has provided a perfect solution. Doctors can watch the conferences at their own convenience from anywhere.

‘Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler,’ said Albert Einstein. Technology is the harbinger of both, tremendous forces for change and tremendous opportunities for transformation. At LapGuru, we have been fairly successful in making use of technology to bring about a change in how laparoscopic surgery education is imparted to bring a transformation in patient care.


Accelerate access to better Markets with LapGuru

Laparoscopic surgery represents one of the largest medical segments with about 8 million surgeries performed annually worldwide. With all its advantages such as quicker recovery, shorter hospital stay and a far superior aesthetic results, the concept of minimally invasive approach, has been gaining more and more followers amongst the surgical community. The equipment and instruments for performing these minimally access procedures have, over the years, greatly improved. Following the surgeons’ demands, the increasing investment and research on better tools have provided more sophisticated and efficient equipment that offers lower risk and thus higher safety to patients opting for these procedures.

The type and quality of surgical instruments available play a part in ensuring the best potential outcomes of a procedure. Although the basic notions of cutting, coagulating and sewing remain, the variety of tools available to perform these tasks has increased significantly. Surgeries that once required a long incision and the opening up of a large surface area can now be completed with smaller incisions and the use of cameras.

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How a surgery that leaves no scars can still cause ugly damage!

Laparoscopic surgery is one the most noteworthy advancement in the field of surgery in recent years. This minimal access approach has been widely accepted and adopted for many types of surgeries. The benefits include decreased post-operative pain, shorter lengths of in-patient hospitalization, increased patient acceptance, and a more rapid return to normal routine. Though this procedure is considered to be highly reliable, it is unlikely that no errors can occur throughout this process, even in the simplest of cases. One can definitely say that lesser incision length, less incision pain, less hospital stay may not actually translate into less risk. 

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