10 reasons why Indian doctors say NO to medical software
Posted Oct 10 2009 10:01pm
I am an angel investor in a startup, Plus91, which makes web-based electronic medical record software for doctors in India.
There is no doubt that medical record keeping leaves a lot to be desired in Indian clinics. Most doctors are very poorly organised, and don't even bother to keep records of their patients . They often do not remember anything about the patient ; and forget even his name ( as many patients have learned the hard way). This is hardly surprising, given that most Indian doctors are so busy. If the patient is not well organised and does not keep his own records, then his care suffers enormously. This is especially true for patients with chronic illnesses, who may need to see many different specialists ( most of whom don't have a clue what the other doctor is doing).
I actually feel this is a big opportunity ! Computers are great at organising stuff and the web allows doctors to store and access information easily. A company which provides doctors with inexpensive , easy to use software can help doctors to do a much better job !
Doctors who are well organised and keep good records impress patients and this can help them to differentiate themselves from other doctors and get more patients ! In fact, this is one of the reasons why specialists in corporate hospitals do so well - because they use Information Technology ( provided by the hospital) to take care of their patients intelligently !
So what stops Indian doctors in solo private practise from doing the same ? How can they compete if they don't use computers to improve their record-keeping ?
And why do they say No to using medical software for record keeping ?
The Marketing Director of Plus91 , Aditya Patkar has been out in the field talking to doctors for many months - and this is his take.
Medicine is a complex science and computer programmers in India have still not taken the time and trouble to design doctor-friendly software which is affordable and which the doctor can easily adapt to meet his unique needs ( until Plus91 came on the scene !). Doctors are just waking up to the fact that useful products tailored to their needs actually exist. Unfortunately, the tech-savvy doctors who were early adopters and who did buy programs to computerise their clinics a few years ago burnt their fingers, because the software was inflexible and did not satisfy their needs, inspite of the claims of the vendor. Because of this bad experience, they are very relucant to invest time, money and energy in trying another product !
The medical software market is now slowly coming to terms with the complex work flows which a doctor uses daily when taking care of his patients. Rather than trying to get the doctor to change his habits so he can use the software, Plus91 is using advanced technology to cleverly design our program, so that it adapts to the doctor's needs. The good news is that as the technology improves, and as programmers get better at understanding clinical practise and the doctor's unique needs, it's becoming easier to do so !
Here are the top 10 reasons why Doctors say NO to medical software in India are:
1. I am not IT savvy and do not want to invest is buying and learning new stuff
2. I am too old or old fashioned to invest in computer software now
3. I already have a program and I quite like it ( even though I don't use it)
4. I bought a software but I wasted time and money, and it was of no use. How are you any better ?
5. I am not to keen on introducing a program in my practise as I do not have the time to use it - I am too busy taking care of patients and cannot waste time on a computer, entering data
6. I do not think your software meets my requirements. I want more/less/something different
7. I do not want to meet you, as I am not interested in meeting salesmen
8. I prefer the cheaper or free option I am getting from my relative/pharma company/local provider.
9. I prefer writing on paper. I don't like using a keyboard as it interferes with eye contact with my patient
10. I do not have a PC .
Actually, all these are great opportunities ( well-disguised, that's true)
In his next post, Aditya will talk about how he gets doctors to say Yes !