Overcrowded and understaffed, India’s healthcare amenities need faster technology adoption and funding. The trick is to manage expectations and balance perceptions

For the majority of people in India, the healthcare sector is rarely associated with great customer experience when compared to the hospitality, airline, and retail sectors.

Crowded hospitals and clinics do not exactly evoke images of excellent customer service, and the quality of interactions between healthcare professionals and patients is now as important as the quality of the medical care provided.

So, what are technologies in the industry doing to bridge the customer experience and quality-of-care gap in India’s healthcare industry? DigiconAsia.net interviewed Gaurav Jain, Senior VP, IKS Health, to find out more.

DigiconAsia: What has caused patients and healthcare customers to demand better customer experience (or patient-experience) in India?

GJ: As a result of a rapid shift toward a patient-centricity, people’s perceptions of healthcare providers and institutions in the country have changed.

With current concerns about patient safety and the strain on already overburdened healthcare facilities, more people are pressing for the increased adoption of technology to facilitate virtual medical visits and telemedicine to ease the bottlenecks.

However, is customer service in healthcare limited to interactions that take place in person, at the healthcare premises? In the healthcare industry, no. Whether the patient receives care in person or online, the quality of that care is crucial. So, the adoption of technology is not an excuse to dilute customer experience where possible.

Gaurav Jain, Senior VP, IKS Health

DigiconAsia: How can healthcare facilities use AI in situations requiring human interaction?

GJ: AI can be used to automate administrative tasks like appointment scheduling, billing, and patient reminders. This simplifies the administration processes and gives healthcare workers more time to spend on taking good care of patients. This use of AI in care coordination can reduce the number of unnecessary visits to the doctors, and can direct patients to the best treatments.

For patients that really need follow-up visits, AI can assist in enhancing correspondence duties to boost customer relations and loyalty.

DigiconAsia: Despite not offering the best customer experiences at the moment, can medical staff at least rely on the latest technology to improve clinical diagnoses and outcomes?

GJ: Yes, advances in Computer Vision (CV) and Machine Learning (ML) have enhanced the fields of precision medicine and disease detection. In addition, other technologies can be used to help physicians to ensure safer and more effective care, ease their documentation duties, and free more time for them to improve patient engagement.

Medical teams can also take advantage of natural language processing and conversational AI to ease their own clinical workloads. Also, AI can now be used to speed up analysis of medical images to provide early diagnoses and treatments. With digital transformation implemented at every step of the patient-care journey, doctors will be able to make decisions with more information in a timely manner, leading to improved patient outcomes.

One emerging area of medicine known as “personalized medicine” is also being enhanced by easier and more economical access to computing power and advanced AI. By analyzing patients’ genetic makeup and historical medical data points to identify trends and provide insights that have hitherto not been accessible and possible, doctors can now tailor medical treatments to achieve better outcomes for patients and their lifestyle choices, by predicting drug efficacy and side effects of various treatments.

DigiconAsia: What other technology-driven improvements can we expect in India’s healthcare digitalization journey?

GJ: It is abundantly clear that AI has the capacity to improve care coordination by automating processes, personalizing treatment plans, and optimizing service delivery. In future, it can likewise be utilized to detect patterns in patient behavior to predict and preempt certain potential outcomes, allowing doctors to take early preventive action before costly hospitalizations are needed.

Additionally, advances in AI will help doctors to simplify the creation of comprehensive and precise clinical records for each patient even when the latter are rushing from one medical facility to another. This will be a welcome relief to busy and oftentimes overworked medical staff (employees are considered clients of the healthcare system as well), who themselves are in need of better customer experiences at work.

DigiconAsia thanks Guarav for sharing his insights on digital transformation in India’s healthcare sector.