Dr. Sindhu Pandit, is a Clinical Leader on the Global Healthcare and Life Sciences team at Salesforce. Most recently, Dr. Pandit was a Medical Director at Oschner Health System where she had clinical responsibilities in an acute inpatient rehabilitation unit, a multidisciplinary multiple sclerosis clinic, and an outpatient clinical role in a general physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) clinic. Dr. Pandit is a board-certified physician in PM&R and continues to practice today.
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If done right technology can help improve patient access and engagement as well as help reduce bias, all fundamental drivers of improving health outcomes for populations that experience health disparities. Today, we’re talking with Dr. Sindu Pundit clinical leader on the global healthcare and life sciences team at Salesforce on how we can leverage technology to achieve health equity. Welcome to the show.
Thank you so much. Thank you so much for having me on this podcast and to engage in this really important conversation.
I think this is really critical understanding health disparities, understanding how we can achieve better health equity is just so important. And I’m a Salesforce fan too, so I’m kind of like double winning here. This is exciting. So let’s start tell us a little bit about your background about yourself and what you do at Salesforce.
Sure. Thing, as you mentioned, my name is Sindhu Pundit. I am actually based in New Orleans, Louisiana, and I am a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician by training. That means that I work with individuals that have impairments, whether it’s physical, cognitive, or different kinds and help them recover and try to optimize their functional recovery and live well. I joined Salesforce less than a year ago because I really truly believe technology is a very important tool for us to leverage in a much more efficient manner to reach patients where they are and improve health care delivery across the board, regardless of socioeconomic background or, you know, urban area, rural area or, you know, disease state, just the great equalizer. And so I wanted to really be able to participate in that macro level conversation and found a home at Salesforce to do just that.
Wow, that’s fantastic. And I’d imagine it gives you a really unique perspective, both from a health and from a technology side of things. So, so let’s talk about that for a minute, from your perspective, what are some of the solutions for addressing health disparities?
Yeah. So there are many as you can, well imagine, and a lot of them are coming from other industries actually in our lives. We have become quite comfortable,uleveraging technology to get things done, whether it’s ordering a pizza or depositing a check or ordering something and expecting it to be at our doorstep the next day. Like we just don’t even think about these things anymore in healthcare though. Uwe are still figuring out how to adopt these solutions in a way that is privacy forward, that maintains trust because the conversation is often sensitive and also is dynamic to the need at hand. So, you know, that’s a little bit unique to healthcare. A certain things that happen in an acute manner happen in an acute manner, and need acute attention. And so it’s not a one size fits all, but I think that’s the beauty of technology. I think the fact that we’re in this age where we can be dynamic in our solutions and look at it in terms of a fundamental solution to pull together, you know, policy and people and living situation, environments, climate, we could, we could leverage all of those concerns or conditions. And actually I think improve overall health care delivery, so improving outcomes. And that is truly how the solution we’re looking for, right? It’s not any numerical or metric or, you know, these things that guide us in a lot of other aspects of our lives, but in healthcare it’s really outcome helping people live better and live well in conditions of disease. And so solutions wise, it’s really, how do you improve patient access? How do you improve engagement and how do you do this without losing sight of bias, both overt and things that we don’t even know that we’re biased in? You know, I think that the solution is, is diverse. There’s not one thing, Pew Research noted in 2019 96% of Americans had a cell phone. That’s not necessarily a smartphone, but a cell phone. And so if you think about the ability to reach people where they are the solution, it can be what you need it to pay. Yeah.
Right. And so you touched on this and I wonder if we can dig just slightly deeper into it. And then let’s talk just a little bit about why technology is so important in helping achieve health equity. And I think, I think that’s kind of where you were going with, you know, 96% of Americans have a cell phone. Right. Can you give us other reasons that it’s so important?
Sure. I mean, if you think about technology as a tool, we have the opportunity to democratize access and importantly reach people that are traditional disenfranchised and that ability to meet people where they are when they need to be reached in the medium, in which they respond the best that is that North star, if you will, right. And disparities, it’s not like people are saying, I have a challenge accessing healthcare. That’s not necessarily visible in every level. There are people in urban centers that have trouble accessing health care. There are people in rural areas that don’t have any challenges getting to healthcare that they need. So I think it’s important that we maintain that we need a dynamic and a, a responsive solution to who we’re trying to reach. You know, the, the interesting thing is mobile mammography. There’s been a lot of studies. I mean, there was one that the CDC put forth.
There’s been a lot of quite effective mobile mammography clinics and reaching the underserved population. But the challenge then becomes the follow-up. What happens after, how do we continue to maintain engagement and how do we make sure that the women that need treatment are seen and managed and get what they need and that we’re addressing primary language, health, literacy, digital literacy. And again, that’s not like a one size fits all. It’s just this idea that we really need to maintain this lens of personalized health care delivery is where we need to go remaining aware of any potential bias that could be there. Yeah.
Wow. So you mentioned a couple of challenges already. You mean, you mentioned, you know, follow-ups from mobile appointments, you mentioned some language. Are there other challenges that we should be aware of when using technology?
It’s like anything, it’s a tool we have to be open to the opportunities and all the good that can come from it, but never losing sight of potential challenges and unforeseen circumstances leading to outcomes that we didn’t want. Right. I think we need to just remain open to re-education and informing the process as it’s happening. And I think banking is interesting in that, right? Like I’m sure everyone on the phone is there. Listening has an experience where they’ve gone into a bank and they’ve had to do their banking and there are certain things now we do on our phone without even thinking, and then they would go to an ATM and don’t even think about pulling out cash if we need it wherever we are. And so those things used to be separate instances of thinking. We used to say, e-banking ATS, if you remember.
And that wasn’t that long ago that we used to call these things out as experiences. And now we just say banking.
It’s just this idea that we have to continue to inform the process and make sure that we,uprivacy and trust of course has to be paramount because trust is one of those things that it’s the backbone continuing to, to be, to move forward with,utechnology utilization as a society. I mean, we have to trust that we’re doing it with the right intentions and getting the dessert, the results we wanted and not something else. Yeah. But I think it’s only going to get more and more ingrained into our day to day.
Yeah. And, and I think, you know, one of the tricks about technology is we have a tendency because we use it so much to sort of assume that everyone else uses the same levels of technology that we do. And so when then you and I say, Oh, banking when we’re doing it from our phone, but there are people that don’t have smart phones that can’t do baking from their phone and they don’t need to be left out. And then we think about payment solutions where stores go completely cashless and, Oh, isn’t that wonderful. But then you forget that there are many unbanked people that cannot go cashless, right? So there, there need to be technology solutions that encompass everybody, not just the people that have the latest and greatest technologies. Right?
Absolutely. And that’s, that’s why you still see brick and mortar. It’s maintaining all of those access points. And not assuming there is a group that wants one more than the other, right. Because it’s also situational, you know, the same person who uses their phone for certain things may want to be in person for perhaps their mortgage. That’s right. And it’s the same in healthcare. There are certain things we’re comfortable doing perhaps over the phone, but there may be other things that we want to have an in-person conversation about respecting that it’s not a one size fits all, always respecting that it is a very layered and complicated system as a, as a healthcare ecosystem, but then also never losing sight of the patient as who’s at the center. And so we have to always respect where they are in their own healthcare journey and respect that they own that that’s right. You know, it’s up to us to meet them where they are.
That’s right. Yeah. That’s great. That’s great. So Sindu last question. Do you have any examples of how technology is already helping us to achieve health?
Yeah, we’re obviously in a very difficult time and we are learning more and more each day, each week on how to manage all that we’re seeing in the midst of this pandemic. In the beginning, we started off with not knowing very much and trying to just truly just link, arms and attack this as a community. And we have since just in this short while really seeing the adoption of things like tele-health guy rocket and start to really think more consciously and more deliberately about virtual care, being able to help patients manage a chronic disease more effectively in the home. None of these technologies are new. It’s just, the adoption has been accelerated by the need presented acutely by the pandemic. And that is to me, the poster, if you will, of, we can do this. We can really look and act as that one community and leverage tools that are around us and improve our ability to see better outcomes with regards to health. And I don’t think that’s any different for a lot of other disease States. I think we are an incredible community of researchers, scientists, et cetera, working on diagnostics and treatments and, you know, whatnot. I mean, we get down to the molecular level on trying to improve outcomes, but we can also step back and look at improving outcomes on a very societal level. And by doing so with, with tools that actually are all already in around us. And maybe even in our hands,
I love that. Well, Dr. Pandit, this has been so great. Thank you so much for taking the time for helping us understand how technology is helping us achieve health equity. Thanks for your time on the show today.
Thank you so much for having me and be well.
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