“When the doctor’s black bag will be replaced by smartphones, then you know technology has seeped in healthcare,” remarked one of the veteran participants at HIMSS Conference and Exhibition this year.
Not-for-profit organisation, HIMSS (Healthcare Information Management Systems Society) organised the 2019 edition of its flagship conference and exhibition recently in Hyderabad to elucidate technology break-throughs in the healthcare sector and slate its way ahead.
The event roped in a cross-section of stakeholders from the government, statutory bodies, healthcare providers, payers, pharma, life sciences, medical device and healthcare IT to draw synergies in healthcare as a whole. Collaborative discussions on healthcare IT issues, best practices and the latest tools and technologies that drive and enhance the new age healthcare delivery and outcomes marked the event.
Jeyaseelan Jayaraj, President, HIMSS said, “Today if someone wants to be a part of the system, one has to embrace technology. Technology is imperative for the success of any industry or vertical. People related to healthcare IT look up to HIMSS, as it has a history of 65 years under its belt. In India, along with being involved in many government projects, we have been instrumental in advising the government for DISHA and NeHA projects.”
The major agenda this year is to scale up the forward path of HIMSS in India and how it can collaborate with the global body which is the HIMSS US, informed Ishaq Quadri, Consultant CIO, Secretary, HIMSS, APAC India Chapter and Chairman of the Organizing Committee. He mentioned that the emphasis is on subjects such as EMR adoption, interoperability, analytics, and drive around standards which are key components to bring about transformation in Healthcare.”
Nitiraj Gandhi, Joint Secretary, HIMSS APAC India Chapter, said, “HIMMS is the advisory body for the network IT framework in healthcare with the government. We advise in framing the standards for e-health or e-government projects. In the education area, we encourage young IT professionals to join HIMSS and take up certifications for new interventions. We have also been instrumental in devising the EMR standards along with the government of India a few years ago. We are readily available to aid the government with advice and support in framing guidelines.”
The event platformed several thought provoking panel discussions across topics ranging from cyber-security, data analytics to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).
Dr. Manish Kohli, Chair, Global Board of Directors, HIMMS, attended as the Chief Guest and delivered his keynote address. He said, “From a global perspective, India has adopted technology very well. In terms of the consumer space in India, the average consumer is quite technology savvy. With the increasing penetration of smartphones and network availability everywhere, India is progressing in healthcare. However, the penetration is a little checkered, which is true for other countries as well. It is a complex equation to understand – what drives healthcare system to actually make investments in technology. It has to be assessed that is it aligned to the goals of the country. These are tremendous times for India. The core technology is ready and now we need to see how we can bring this to the benefit of healthcare. Initiatives like the Ayushman Bharat Yojana are drivers of technology. The issues of India being a self-pay market, also has its solution in technology.”
Dr. Evita Fernandez, Managing Director, Fernandez Hospital Foundation, which provides healthcare for women and newborn, said, “The Fernandez Hospital Foundation has a history of 70 years. We introduced computers in 1992, but ventured onto mobile in the last five years. We have come a long way when it comes to technology. Technologies such as ultrasound and scans, along with clinical judgment, are used together to save lives of the new the newborns. But now technology is getting onto different levels altogether; now all the clinical data is digitized and is positioned in a central location so that it can be accessed from different branches of the hospital. Mothers seeking ante-natal care today can come to any of our branches as per their convenience. This also adds to our convenience, as earlier we used to struggle to shift the files from one location to other. Now with information of the patients being digitized, just the medical report number and name is enough to have the entire information at any location. Technology reduces wait time, travel time and improves experience of the mother without making her think we have become impersonal.”
Speakers at the event provided insights on various issues relating to technology in healthcare. For instance, the conference witnessed discussions on government regulations that propel and deter technology adoption in healthcare.
Rajendra Gupta, Founder, HIMSS India & Policy Maker, said, “If more regulations are leached on the initial stages of any industry, its growth gets stifled. Healthcare is an industry which constitutes start-ups – which are largely bootstrapped, struggling with budget most of the time. However, they are in a industry with high expectations and too much of regulation would impact innovation. To grow in this area, India needs to have more compliance guidelines and less regulations. Regulations, further, have to be clear to safeguard them and not to victimize them. Technology is reinventing with time; initially when we spoke of digital health, it was about telemedicine – I remember transferring ECG through a landline network. Now you just need to set your hand on the phone’s camera and you have every details of the patient. Till long, most of the hospitals used technology only for billing, but over a period of time, technology is becoming more commonplace. It is now proven that technology is more efficient and accurate than humans.”
On the bumps of technology, Gupta has drawn a comparison, “A 50-year-old senior doctor is expected to have weak eyesight, but an AI software will do a much better job in reading a medical report. But doctors don’t want to admit that and hence they become speed-breakers in the road of technology adoption. They resist technology, sometime in the fear to lose control. For bringing progress in healthcare, it is time that they admit that technology is an aid to humans and not a threat.
Dr Ataat Khan, Vice Chairman, Kameda Infologics said, “Technology should be built keeping in mind that the users are doctors and nurses who are not technicians. If this is not ensured then the adoption is ought to be a challenge due to hassle of use.”
Speakers at the event also elaborated on various healthcare technologies that are marking innovations in the field.
Shireesh Sahai, CEO, Wolters Kluwer said, “We have a repository of healthcare data which we are able to convert into software solutions, helping doctors do their jobs better. One of our healthcare products can answer any clinical question that a doctor faces. Research has proven that every day, a doctor faces 15 clinical questions while he is treating a patient. About 60-70 per cent goes unanswered because the doctor cannot refer to a book at the time he is executing his job. Our app, which is based on cloud, can furnish answers to any of the doctor’s query within 90 seconds.”
Sanjay Pandita, Business Manager – Strategy & Alliance, Medical Division, Fujifilm India, stated, “Outstanding innovations have come up in radiological and mammography equipments and touch films. In India, tuberculosis is an extremely prevalent disease and about 12 million people die of TB every year. It is heartbreaking to know that this disease faces a 25 per cent diagnostic errors. We are soon going to launch a product in India which will detect TB. Also, there are solutions coming from us which will detect breast cancer, lung, colon, prostate cancer. This will bring down the cost of treatment and also the disease burden will be significantly reduced.”
Anu Acharya, CEO, Mapmygenome, spoke at length about the use of technology and how digital data is useful in the field of genome.
Ratan Jalan, Founder and Principal Consultant, Medium Healthcare Consulting, pointed out, “We should provide better experience for patients. They should not feel they are in hospitals and are being treated for an ailment and to alley this experience, technology plays a pivotal role.”
Raghuram Janapareddy, Director – Open Innovation, NASSCOM, CoE, IoT, said, “HIMSS and NASSCOM are working together for the last two years on digital health. While the former is strong in building an industry connect, the latter is strong om start-up connect. We are working together to make an impact on digital adoption in healthcare.”
Exhibits of various technologies were also the highlight of the event. HIMSS has been marking chapters after chapter globally to revolutionize the medical world and now India witnesses its boon. No wonder HIMSS brings up the elixir mixing technology and medicine.
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