Rapid Rounds: 5 Minutes with Dr. Richa Agnihotri

Written by The Rounds

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Dr. Richa Agnihotri is a Paediatrician in Ontario, Canada! Between being a busy mom and a kids’ health and well-being advocate, we were lucky enough to have Dr. Richa take the time to answer a few questions and become our second Canadian social physician to be featured in our “Rapid Rounds” blog series.

Check out the rest of our post to hear about Dr. Richa’s reason for entering the medical field, how she believes technology can improve healthcare outcomes, and what she believes is the most pressing issue facing healthcare today.

1. What inspired you to get into the medical field?

As a school-aged child, I had recurrent episodes of croup, resulting in multiple ER visits, and admission to the hospital. During my admission, I saw how worried my parents were, and became scared in turn. The doctors treated me, but they also listened to and reassured my parents. I knew that one day, I wanted to make a positive difference to children’s health, and wanted to take on a holistic approach to their care – the way the paediatricians had done for me and my family. As I grew older, my interest in advocating for and helping children led me to consider becoming a teacher. Ultimately, however, I chose paediatrics. In this field, I can combine my passion for kids’ health and well-being with that for education and teaching. In this career, I get to teach children and parents every day, and I now also teach medical students, residents, and other health professionals. It is the most fulfilling career, and I am so honoured and privileged to be a part of this profession.

2. How has/can technology improve healthcare outcomes? 

Information technology represents an opportunity for better communication and collaboration between healthcare providers. Up-to-date, evidence-based information has never before been so easily accessible to all members of the healthcare team, which ensures that patients are always getting the best treatments. Moreover, social media now enables information to be shared by qualified professionals to patients in easy-to-understand, digestible ways. Now, instead of handing your patient a one-page, black-and-white printout that may not be updated frequently, you can direct them to online resources providing up-to-date information that complements and supplements your counselling.

3. What do you think is the most pressing issue in healthcare/medicine today? 

There are many pressing issues in healthcare today, so I find it challenging to pick just one. Moreover, many major health issues are often interrelated. Mental health is one such issue. According to the 2017 Global Burden of Disease Report, 792 million people worldwide have a mental health disorder and it is the 5th leading cause of Disability Associated Life Years (DALYs). Despite this high burden, the funding for mental health research and treatment still lags far behind other leading causes of DALYs, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. It’s important to also remember that a parent’s mental health can have long-lasting impacts on a child’s development as well as their physical and mental health. As mental health issues have only worsened with the pandemic, I have recently begun providing anticipatory guidance to my patients and their parents around COVID-19 anxiety, child development during a pandemic, and other mental health concerns that may be worsened by the increasing isolation of our vulnerable populations.