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ICT-healthcare sector integration to transform medical services: experts

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ISLAMABAD, June 04 (INP) – Integration of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) into the healthcare sector will revolutionize the future of medical services, bringing about a transformative shift in the way healthcare is delivered and accessed, said Dr. Muhammad Iqbal, MS DHQ hospital Chilas, while speaking to WealthPK.

He said a new era of remote medical services and data-driven diagnostics would be made possible by widespread internet access throughout the health sector.

Iqbal opined that high-speed internet services would revolutionize the requirement of round-the-clock operational support for cutting-edge technologies and unbroken access to vital information for medical practitioners to deliver the best possible patient care.

“Collaboration of the health sector with telecom companies would help it fulfill its goal of providing the best service. For the operations to run smoothly and provide the best results to the patients, there must be fast and stable connectivity, particularly in locations where real-time communication and seamless data interchange are essential,” he suggested.

He explained that by leveraging ICT, healthcare providers could reach patients remotely, enabling telemedicine and virtual consultations and facilitating access to medical expertise for underserved populations.

He lamented that paper-based records caused many problems, such as data fragmentation, inaccuracies, and insufficient tracking. The dispersion of patient data over numerous documents, folders, and places makes it challenging to access and compile the data.

“The challenges posed by paper-based records can be effectively handled by fully leveraging ICT. Patient data can be digitalized with Electronic Health Records (EHRs), which would enable customized treatment plans, and empower individuals to take charge of their health,” he concluded.

Talking to WealthPK, Hasan Raheem, Medical Officer at PIMS, Islamabad, said the integration of ICT would streamline clinical workflows, reducing administrative burdens and enabling healthcare professionals to focus on high-quality, patient-centered care. Integrating ICT in healthcare has the profound potential to revolutionize the way care is delivered and received.

He explained that the potential of telemedicine and virtual consultations was greatly hampered by the lack of reliable connectivity in remote and underprivileged areas, which exacerbated healthcare inequities. Patients in these areas are forced to travel long distances to urban centres for medical attention.

Raheem added that the quality of services in rural areas was compromised because the healthcare providers there were unable to obtain specialist consultations, ongoing medical education, and real-time medical resources.

The country can fully utilize telemedicine to provide high-quality healthcare services to marginalized communities and lessen health disparities by overcoming the connectivity gap.

He concluded that inaccurate diagnosis, incomplete data, and handwriting legibility problems were caused by manual data entry.

The vulnerability of paper records to deterioration and human error could be mitigated by transitioning to ICT-based solutions, which provide enhanced data security and minimize the risk of data loss and security breaches.

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