Digital Technology Senate, Pharma and Healthcare track witnesses much action

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The Digital Technology Senate themed around “How India Inc. is fighting Covid-19: Innovation in Disruptive Times” kick started on June 2, 2020 amidst a virtual garnering of delegates belonging to the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries.

The mega conclave is presented by LogMeIn, powered by NetApp and Tech Data and supported by Gold partners Dell, Hitachi and Veeam and Silver partners SAP Concur and MongoDB.

The event started with the keynote presentation by Arvind Sivaramakrishnan, CIO, Apollo Hospitals, who spoke on “Leading digital transformation and helping the new economic and business climate.” Arvind Sivaramakrishnan pointed out that newer value models are evolving to deliver quality health services to teeming millions leading to emergence of population health management.

The next speaker was Rajiv Garg, Senior Solutions Consultant – LogMeIn and he highlighted the five steps to help improve digital engagement during Covid-19 and beyond. Giving cues for managing uncertainty, while providing an exceptional customer experience, Garg said that LogMeIn helps, “Fortify your digital self-service, amplify your digital support, empower your employees, optimise your support, intelligently and  evolve to the next level of self-service.”

As the session progressed, came the presentation time for Sreeji Gopinathan, Chief Information Officer, Lupin, who spoke on the best practices for taking drug manufacturing efficiencies to a new level. He emphasised that it is important to link manufacturing to supply chain to consumption. He also said that for reinventing drug manufacturing and supply chains it is important to harness the power of AI, IoT, and ML to scale production globally.

Following Gopinathan’s presentation, Rajesh Itagi, SE Manager, NetApp India and SAARC was the next speaker and he spoke on “Data-driven Innovations in the Hybrid Cloud”. He mentioned that in a world where technology is changing our everyday lives, data-driven digital transformation is accelerating business outcomes.

Itagi also said that healthcare and pharma industries can benefit as NetApp helps create copies of data without overheads. It enables simultaneous use of data for multiple purposes including analytics, application testing, backup or data protection and consolidation of data from multiple labs, locations or hospitals.

The final presenter of the day was Sunil Kumar, Head – ISV and Enterprise, Veeam Software and he spoke on “Enabling the Always-On Health Care Enterprise”.

Veeam helps healthcare enable enterprise continuity, cloud workload mobility and compliance and visibility. He stressed that the key to delivering compliance is availability of information resources. And that availability not only means monitoring and automating IT services and workloads, it also means that data needs to be protected against loss or accidental deletion or recently, ransomware attacks.

The second day of “Digital Technolgy Senate: Healthcare & Pharma” started with a panel discussion, “How COVID-19 has expedited digital experience of Pharma & Healthcare industry,” moderated by Rajesh Batra, Ex- CIO, Kokilaben Dhirubai Ambani Hospital.

The panel consisted of Anjani Kumar, CIO, Strides Pharma Science; Shuvankar Pramanick, CIO, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital; Jitendra Mishra, VP & Group CIO, Alembic Pharmaceuticals; Rajiv Garg, Senior Solutions Consultant – LogMeIn; and Rajesh Itagi, SE Manager, NetApp India, and SAARC. They shared their experience leveraging digital technologies to keep the business running.

Anjani Kumar said, “Three C’s have made digitisation possible: CIOs, CDOs and Covid. We always had collaboration tools, but adoption was low. However, the Covid situation has helped to increase its adoption. The new normal has resulted in a hybrid setup. We have divided the response into pre-Covid, during Covid and the new normal.”

Sharing his views on IT enabling supply chain, Jitendra Mishra said, “COVID has introduced new learnings and technologies which is enabling their operations and workforce. This is a good opportunity for IT leaders to further evaluate the role of technologies such as machine automation. It will bridge the gaps in supply chains. This new normal is weaving an opportunity to reimagine the new normal and supply chain value.”

Further, sharing his views on Work From Home culture, Rajesh Itagi said, “The new normal will not be defined by just one approach. It will be a combination of WFH and working from the office. Organisations are now investing in and adopting VDI, with a focus on security. Data is the key, especially for pharma companies. Organisations must look at a hybrid model. We help organisations store their data in a highly secure, tamper-proof environment.”

Rajiv Garg said, “Covid has acted as a catalyst for the remote working model. We have seen a significant surge in demand for our collaboration tools. We have enabled employees to work remotely and organisations are now accepting this as a new normal.”

Shuvankar added, “Covid has increased technology practices in healthcare facilities and it will continue to increase in a post Covid world.”

In his closing remarks, Rajesh Batra added, “Telehealth is discussed a lot, but implementation is very poor.  Adoption of AI and ML will grow, along with more usage of public cloud.”

The panel discussion was followed by a presentation by Suvig Sharma, Senior Director APAC, MongoDB on “Database in Hybrid Cloud: Reimagining Data Strategies.” He said, “When organisations look at new technologies and IT models, security must also be a critical consideration. We have created a host of services on the data services layer. MongoDB has ensured stringent compliance including HIPAA, PCI, GDPR, among others. Apervita’s customer /partner base has grown significantly since adoption of MongoDB. MongoDB has helped in 6x improvement in performance at Thermo Fisher.”

The virtual conference further featured another panel discussed titled “Emerging tech like AI, ML, blockchain, robotics enable seamless healthcare amidst Covid-19,” moderated by Girish Kulkarni, Chairperson & Founding Board Member, CHIME India Chapter.

The panel consisted of Avadhut Parab, Global CIO, Wockhardt; Ganesh Ramachandran, Global CIO, Alkem Lab and Rajan Bhandari, CEO, Hitachi Systems Micro Clinic.

Sharing his views on the specific role of new technologies in your IT roadmap, Avadhut said, “Pharma industry is bound by many regulations. We have segregated our approach as growth-driven and operations driven. We are evaluating the application of blockchain for inventory management. We have explored the use of AI and ML in marketing functions. We have already adopted analytics in this function. And have deployed an AI-driven bot to better equip our representatives and transform them into smart representatives.”

Ganesh said, “Covid has resulted in huge acceleration on the digital path. Post-Covid, there will a revamp GTM strategy and with new approaches to patient and employee engagement and we will see an integration of the entire ecosystem. Cybersecurity has gained significant prominence from a strategic viewpoint.”

Rajan highlighted his initiatives on complementing the industry with technology, “We have built several IPs in the last few years. We can provide end to end management to customers and ensure that their data is always available to them. We have created our own AI engine and made it a part of our service SLA desk. With digital as part of the new normal, we want to help our customers manage their digital platforms with our solutions.”

The day three started with the keynote session by Mukesh Rathi, VP and CIO, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories on ‘The role of Big Data and Analytics in bolstering Pharma Industry’. He said that the pharma industry has always relied on data and science, but “we are late to data science”, whereas data is an integral component to digital transformation.  He mentioned that new digital players are equipped with data to create a unique value proposition for customers. However the pharma industry has been making huge strides in digitisation journey, across various functions for some time now.

Moving ahead with his presentation he said that availability, accessibility and adoption – the three data challenges at organisations and that it is important to become data rich and collect data from various sources.

“We have to then connect the relevant data points to make it more valuable. We have to apply data science, analyse the data for the right use cases,” he mentioned.

Emphasising on the importance of data and analytics, he said that it can be a game changer in efficient operations, affordable and faster R&D, GTM models, product quality and processes.

The session was the then followed by an interesting panel discussion on “Solving Spend Challenges in Times of Uncertainty”.

The panel discussion was moderated by Girish Koppar, GM – IT, Wockhardt Hospital. While the panellists included Gyan Pandey, CIO, Aurobindo Pharma; Ananth Narayan Narasimhan, Head of IT, The Himalaya Drug Company; Ved Goel, CFO, Dr. Lal Path Labs; Rajesh Sharma, Vice President & Deputy CFO, Syngene International; Sneha Hiranandani, Global CIO, Cipla; and Vivek Ganesh, Regional Sales Director, SAP Concur.

Taking the panel discussion ahead and citing the impact of Covid-19, Goel said, “Dr. Lal Path Lab has augmented its capacity and we are reaching out to customers.” He further said, “We are investing in technologies and allowing people to engage with us digitally and we haven’t faced challenges in terms of supply chain.”

Speaking on the new CIO role amidst lockdown, Hiranandani said, “Cultural change was a challenge to shift to work-from-home. However, we have addressed that with training and enablement.”

Talking on BCP, vaccine and finance Sharma said that realising the direction of the situation, “We started creating BCP and response plans at an early stage, allowing us to have a structured approach. As the BCP was triggered at an early stage, we had minimal impact on operations. He further said, “We are in the early discovery stage of for vaccination protocols. Finance functions have effectively and successfully operated remotely during Covid crisis.”

Commenting on the security aspect of work from home Pandey stated, Mobile devices and laptops were not largely used in by workforces in the pharma industry, pre-Covid. However, we enabled around 2,000 employees to work from home through trainings and enablement. Our IT team continuously sensitised the workforce on the security aspect or remote working.” He also said that “A lot of investment has been on perimeter security, which loses relevance in a remote working model.”

Elaborating on how enterprise solutions will change post Covid Narasimhan said, “Work from Anywhere (WFA) will be the new normal, and organisations will need to realign strategies to accommodate WFA. We at Himalaya have started using IoT application to ensure social distancing at workplace.”

Speaking on how SAP is leveraging the situation Ganesh said, “At SAP Concur, we have witnessed businesses focus on process, RoI and adoption.” He further said that digital transformation also enables business leaders in their duty of care and that Covid-19 has made fixed costs move towards variable costs.”

The panel discussion was followed by a special address on “Key technologies to be adopted in Healthcare post Covid-19” by Prashant Singh, CIO, Max Heathcare. He informed that until now Max Heathcare has served 1200 Covid patients, conducted 21,000 tests and 31 clinical trials.

Singh said that 20 to 30 per cent of consultation at Max Healthcare is happening digitally, on Tele-consult platform and this will ramp up even further post Covid. Also, IoT is playing a pivotal role in remote monitoring of patients. There is a huge scope for IoT based remote monitoring post Covid.

Singh further said, “We are using RPA for claims settlement and invoice processing and we are evaluating its application in pharmacy approval process and in lines with contactless approach, we are using geo-fencing based attendance system. In a contactless world, video analytics will be crucial in the area of patient management.”

Singh did put forth that that Max Hospital is evaluating AI based solutions for disease prediction, along with several more use cases and are planning for AI based bots for its Smart Contact Centres. And that it is using an AI enabled platform at one of the hospitals to extract clinical data from handwritten prescription with over 90 per cent accuracy.

Next in line was a presentation by Mrigank Mishra, Associate Vice President, Hitachi Systems Micro Clinic on “World IT during COVID 19 – and Health care Industry”.  He said, “Artificial intelligence has made diagnosis 30 times faster. AI is also solving the problem of misdiagnosis.” He mentioned that enablement of virtual platforms, contact-free healthcare and IT resiliency will be critical focus areas in the new normal.

Mishra further said that Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service will ensure seamless hospital operations during a downtime and that cloud based electronic health records will centralise database, protected by blockchain based security.

Mishra further informed that security will transform from password-based to password-less.

The final presenatiation of the session was by on “Best Practices: Cloud-first backup and recovery for Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals” by Bakshish Dutta, Country Manager, Druva.

Dutta said that digital transformation was important, but the pandemic has now made it urgent.

Dutta further informed, “We provide SaaS based direct-to-cloud backup, which eliminates the current challenges,” He said, “Serving more than 4000 enterprise customers globally and around 400 customers in India, we manage over 200 petabytes of data. Druva has helped Allergan to reduce eDiscovery time by 95 per cent. With Druva Data Protection, customers can reduce TCO by 50 per cent.”


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AIAlembic Pharmaceuticalsand MLAnjani KumarApollo HospitalsArvind SivaramakrishnanCovid-19Delldigital technology senateDr. Reddy's LaboratorieshealthcareHitachiIOTJitendra MishraKokilaben Dhirubai Ambani HospitalLogMeInLupinMongoDBMukesh RathiNetApppharmaRajesh BatraRajesh ItagiSAP ConcurShuvankar PramanickSir Ganga Ram HospitalSreeji GopinathanStrides Pharma ScienceSunil KumarSuvig SharmaTech DataVeeamVeeam Software
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