Healthcare Services in Developing Countries of the South Asian Region: Present and Future Perspectives

Healthcare Services in Developing Countries of the South Asian Region: Present and Future Perspectives

Hiba Shah (Mehran University of Engineering and Technology, Pakistan), Areej Fatemah Meghji (Mehran University of Engineering and Technology, Pakistan) and Naeem A. Mahoto (Mehran University of Engineering and Technology, Pakistan)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4969-7.ch001

Abstract

The rapid growth in information technology (IT) has reshaped traditional infrastructure in several application domains including education, business, and health. Access to patient information, specifically, is vital for effective functioning of a healthcare system; the unavailability of such medical information leads to management issues. IT is no longer perceived as just a supporting tool; it is a tactical necessity for establishing an integrated healthcare infrastructure. Developed nations benefit from the use of modern technology within healthcare to maximize life expectancy and decrease disease. This chapter presents an overview of healthcare conditions of south Asia region. A framework is presented that embeds IT within the healthcare system. The proposed framework has potential to not only restructure but also remove many errors that plague healthcare system. In addition, key problems within the healthcare sector of south Asian countries—Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Sri-Lanka—have been highlighted, and recommendations are proposed to overcome the challenges.
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Introduction

Health is an essential need of human beings. A healthy person is an asset of the country. To ensure fine health, in such a complex and busy world, there is an increasing need of healthcare systems (Lindblad et al., 2017). Healthcare, as the word suggests, is caring for health; essentially this means meeting the basic medical needs of an individual or a population. It encompasses the prevention and cure of diseases by providing vaccines, ensuring sanitary conditions, adequate hospital facilities and educating the masses on awareness of diseases.

Healthcare systems can be seen as organizations specifically established to meet the needs of a certain targeted population. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in order for healthcare systems to function well, they require a mechanism of steady financing; a workforce that is properly trained and sufficiently-paid; reliable information on which decisions can be based; and health facilities that are adequately maintained.

Policies of a country vary in relation to personal and population based health care goals. Similarly, access to healthcare varies across individuals, regions and countries, being highly influenced by not only economic and health policies of the region, but also social conditions. Developed nations have always laid great emphasis on high quality healthcare. Campaigns and policies promoting healthcare have influenced political outcomes. One such example is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, nicknamed Obamacare (Rosenbaum, 2011).

We live in a world where digital innovation is at the forefront of transforming healthcare, where technology is advancing to provide better data, allowing more informed decisions (Weaver et al., 2016). Care providers are creating new ways to improve the quality and cost of patient care. Apart from this, cultural shifts, policy adjustments and due to recent technological advances, over the last decade, a more patient empowered approach is being adopted by many hospitals by prioritizing prevention. Use of Electronic Records, Telemedicine, Remote Monitoring and Wearable Technology has reshaped the healthcare infrastructure (Tomines et al., 2013; Mupela et al., 2011). Developed nations are benefiting from the use of technology within healthcare to maximize life expectancy and decrease disease (Kevin, 2016).

One problem with the use of technology in healthcare, however, is that many healthcare devices operate in silos (Eric, 2014). Over a third of healthcare organizations don’t apply data from connected devices to other business processes; an issue that creates inefficiency, potential for data loss and mistakes in diagnosis. Effective healthcare depends on speed and accuracy. There thus emerges a need to somehow connect these devices and share their data over a centralized platform. In doing so, patients will no longer have to carry files with background medical information and treatments as they visit hospitals. More importantly their medical history will be accessible, without omissions, for a better diagnosis. The introduction and integration of technology, specifically the Internet of Things (IoT), in the health sector has the potential to overcome these issues.

The networked interconnection of everyday objects, which are often equipped with ubiquitous intelligence, may be a simple explanation for the term IoT. IoT provides the facility of integrating every object for the purpose of interaction via embedded systems, which leads to a highly distributed network of devices communicating with each other as well as human beings (Xia et al., 2012). IoT is redefining healthcare by introducing innovative ways that apps, devices and people interact when delivering healthcare solutions.

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