Strengthening and rebuilding our hospitals and their infrastructure is an important next step for India. By Consultant Radiologist Dr Venkat Ramana Sudigali.
As we start to come out the other side of the nasty wave of COVID with the Delta variant in India, we need to build our country back up again. Not only to counteract the impact on us as a people but to strengthen and ‘rebuild’ our hospitals and their infrastructure. What lessons have we learnt to make the system stronger, more resilient, and efficient so that next time we can be more prepared?
It is no surprise our hospital systems buckled under such immense pressure. They are just not built to handle that level of impact at the same time. So the question is, what will help? Many of our current and traditional processes have failed. From sourcing vital supplies like oxygen to our processing of patients and their journey mapping. My mind, as well as many of my colleagues’ minds, has been buzzing with these thoughts. How quickly can we bring about change? How quickly can we rebuild and improve our systems to help medical staff be in a stronger position than before?
Clearly getting as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible is the key. But how do we elevate the smaller processes that we currently have to world-class standards that will liberate colleagues and simplify hospital systems?
Technology is moving at a dramatic pace and we need to find new advancements that can help the management of our hospitals. A better system of assessing, ordering, and maintaining adequate levels of medication, oxygen, beds, equipment, and tools is extremely important. Keeping track of what we have, where we can get it, and order it in a more efficient way. This will help make our clinicians feel that they have all the right tools at hand, at any given time, without having to worry that what the next patient needs may simply not be there.
Another gap in our systems that the pandemic has highlighted, is the protection of our staff and where they are located. When the Delta variant hit, we were left scrambling. Our doctors and nurses were becoming ill themselves but without a way to work remotely, there were gaps in hospital rotas. This meant that medical staff still able to work had to work harder, travel between hospitals, and were, therefore, more likely to pass on the infection. Some were forced to provide care without the right levels of expertise as clinicians increasingly had to self-isolate.
How do we begin to solve these issues? One of the many possible solutions is having a secure, medical-grade communications platform like Bleepa. This allows medical staff to review clinical-grade images and communicate on their phones and devices. They can share and annotate the images and discuss patient cases with colleagues anywhere, in an instant. Why would this help? Well firstly, if a clinician has to self-isolate, is on call, or is simply on their day off, they can very quickly help colleagues in any location with guidance or advice from their home. They don’t need to be in the hospital to do this. They can simply check their phone, make an assessment and guide their colleague in the same way they would if they were there in person. This would help to protect our medics while they are continuing with their work.
Secondly, and more importantly, for the long term, it would enable clinicians not to have to travel between hospitals unless absolutely necessary. They can be located at their main employ and provide valuable insight and guidance from there. Saving them time and stress, and saving hospitals time and money on travel.
People are often fearful about adopting new technology – what does it mean for their job and will it take over? But the best technology should enhance and improve people’s working lives by liberating them from time-consuming, frustrating tasks. I have seen the dramatic impact that new technology can bring to make our lives so much easier. Each building block to improve an individual process adds another piece to create a world-class medical infrastructure. This supports and helps us all to do our jobs better and more efficiently so that we can concentrate on what we are passionate about – helping and treating patients.