“We need good regulatory guidelines for the adoption and use of eHealth and mHealth solutions. Also, it would be useful to have regulatory standards on privacy and security of health records governing providers, payers and patients,” says Arvind Sivaramakrishnan, Chief Information Officer, Apollo Hospitals Group, in conversation with Ankush Kumar.
As Group CIO for Apollo Hospitals and its group companies, Arvind is responsible for designing IT strategy and ensuring its effective implementation in the entire group. He has been instrumental in architecting, and building solutions for enterprise wide applications; internet/ intranet based applications with data warehousing and analytics capabilities.
What has been the impact of emerging technologies in the Indian Healthcare sector ?
Transforming healthcare through Information Technology is undoubtedly gaining momentum in India. The adoption of mHealth, eHealth, IoT embedded medical devices, cloud infrastructure, healthcare specific analytics and CRM are all gaining popularity. Each of these technology solutions have a great promise for improving and enabling the overall healthcare delivery. Clinical quality, patient safety, operational efficiency and higher levels of clinical outcomes are the measures that are greatly benefited by these technologies. Thus confluence of these technologies clearly benefits the maximization of availability of quality healthcare for everyone.
How is IT being used in Apollo Hospitals for effective healthcare delivery system?
At Apollo Hospitals, we consider technology to be a strategic element of our healthcare delivery model. Our solutions around eICUs , Tele Health , patient health record on the cloud , completely interconnected Hospital Information System and supporting solutions, mhealth enabled disease management initiatives are all giving us extremely positive results. We are able to ensure and constantly maintain high standards of patient care, clinical quality and all these solutions greatly help in increasing our high standards of clinical outcomes. We have bench marked our healthcare IT adoption to international standards and some of our hospitals have been certified at HiMSS stage 6.
According to you, what are the major challenges that Indian healthcare sector is facing ? Are there any roadblocks in rolling out health IT solutions?
Disease burden of NCDs (non communicable diseases), access to healthcare and shortage of high quality resource skills to manage the medical technologies are some of the challenges of healthcare in India. As it relates to healthcare IT, regulation around adoption of health IT, cost of infrastructure and software licenses are some of the issues faced by hospitals and healthcare institutions on the rollout of health IT solutions.
As technology has been termed as a great enabler of change in many sectors. How do you think it can help in overcoming these challenges?
The combination of disruptive and traditional technologies can greatly help in the management of chronic diseases. Social media can also be effectively used to educate people on these and thereby increase the focus on preventive medicine and also wellness based initiatives. eHealth and mHealth based intervention can greatly help in bridging the gap between the healthcare providers, patients and patient family members.
As it relates to access to healthcare tele-medicine based solution both on the web and mobile platforms can be very effective. Tele-health solutions can also be effective in managing tertiary care such as ICUs. Tele radiology and Tele pathology can greatly help in effectively managing and utilizing the resource effectiveness of radiologists and pathologists. This can maximize the utilization of scare medical resources and related skill sets. Web based training , access to clinical procedures via video conferencing solutions can help build the clinical expertise across the medical spectrum. This will reduce the risk around shortage of resources.
How can technology play a key enabler in improving healthcare scenario in rural India? What are the issues there?
Tele-health solutions can greatly enable healthcare access and delivery in the rural sector. Ensuring that the telecommunication links are robust and of good video quality is absolutely essential to ensure a valid clinical consultation process in rural India. While the telecom links are indeed available today, the reliability of the service is a point of concern.
How important do you think is the role of Government in revamping the overall healthcare sector? Are you satisfied with the current policy and regulatory guidelines?
The initiatives taken by the government to formulate the National eHealth Authority is a welcome step. It will be greatly beneficial to the complete healthcare eco-system of India if this process could be hastened. We definitely need good regulatory guidelines on the adoption and usage of eHealth and mHealth solutions. Also it would be useful to have regulatory standards on privacy and security of health records governing providers, payors and patients. The initiatives that are underway on all of these by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is indeed commendable.