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How technology can make treatment more transparent: Sumit Puri, CIO, Max Healthcare

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“We are working on analytics program especially in the area of EHR (Electronic Health Record) as the emphasis is on capturing the information of the patient electronically for providing optimum medical assistance,” says Sumit Puri, CIO, Max Healthcare. In conversation with Ankush Kumar he shares his thoughts about the opportunities, challenges, trends in the Indian healthcare industry along with the impact of new age technologies.

How do you see the role of Information Technology gaining momentum in the Healthcare sector?

IT is an integral component of healthcare. Given the latest technological changes that are actually happening, we see lot of benefits by deploying healthcare effectively. With the help of emerging technologies like IoT and analytics an illness can be predicted before a person actually falls ill. Data is the currency of the world today; we need to have much better information to solve complex problems. Most of the current problems that we are facing in healthcare are because we don’t have very clear guidelines for treatment. Most of the medical systems lack transparency and it is hard to even communicate that how exactly a treatment is going to be conducted. Technology can make the entire process of treating patients more transparent. It can make it more convenient for the customers and at the same time can also add to the knowledge base of the clinicians. For me technology is going to be the integral part of the healthcare whether it is the newer age technologies that are coming in terms of medical equipments, in terms of analyzing data much better to really solve real life problems and real life illnesses.

What are the key focus areas for Max in the next few years? How much emphasis is on IT?

One of the major areas that we are focusing is home-care so we are really trying to improve the healthcare services provided at home. It is about moving towards prevention and wellness rather than just curative care. So we are trying to improve the services that are given to the patients at their home as some patients are very reluctant to visit the hospitals. Therefore we are making our services much more comfortable for them to actually get treated from their home. We are also working a lot on analytic program especially in the area of electronic health record as the emphasis is on capturing the information of the patient electronically for real time medical assistance. This information will provide new insights which can be used effectively in getting 360 degree view of the patients. We have also used mobile EHR (Electronic Health Record) which allows patient records to be captured and be easily available on tablets, laptops etc for doctors. Besides that we are also trying to integrate IoT in the medical equipment so that information can be transferred to the doctors so as to serve the patients in a better manner. We are also strengthening our patient engagement platform which can help us in reducing the waiting time and minimize service issues so that patients really feel a lot more comfortable. We have implemented PACS/ RIS solution as we can now put all kinds of diagnostics images on the net and people can access these images of their health records from anywhere. A pilot project on telemedicine is also being initiated that covers some of the remote locations where a device will be used to capture medical data and doctors can use it effectively to give advice from a different location.

What issues do you see in our country’s healthcare system? What are your expectations from the Government?

Government need to increase their investments bit more as our share of GDP in the healthcare is very low as compared to other developed economies. So there is a need to further focus on primary and secondary care for the government whereas large hospitals like Max is inclined towards solving tertiary and coronary problems. There are some new regulations that are coming up on the electronic health records which would in some sense will allow us to probably share the information more transparently for the benefits of the patients. We do need to create more trust among the patients as many of the doctors are world class in India and it’s just about creating that degree of trust. We do also have small proportion of doctors in various parts of the country who are not practicing in a very ethical manner. So we need to create that trust and have better engagement platforms in partnership with the government. It’s time to create more awareness about the kind of advances that have happened in the healthcare with respect to science and technology.

How do you evaluate the impact of rising cyber security issues in the healthcare industry? What measure have Max taken?

We are having next generation firewalls and are focused in increasing awareness on data security. We have outsourced data centers with very strict security standards being followed. There is a very big difference in the way every organization is addressing these issues but we know the risks that it entails and we are trying our best. Most hospitals believe that their servers are very secure so one would expect that they are probably a lot more protected but obviously there are gaps that could end up having lethal consequences. There could be challenges for example with the life-saving equipments. What we do is that we ensue that there are UPS available and have quick incident management response time as we want to response quickly and resolve every problem that arise. The hospitals need to keep their eyes wide open for new technologies and continue to strengthen their defenses as the hackers are becoming more sophisticated.

Tell us about the expansion and modernization plans of the organization?

At the moment we have already acquired two new hospitals in the last one year – Max Vaishali and Max Smart. We are also opening up new OPD centers in the upcountry town so many new OPD centers are being opened to really increase that connect and get the confidence of the customers about the services that are being offered. In international market also a fair amount of work is happening with international OPDs being done and then some patients coming to India for surgeries and treatment. Our aim is to raise India as a most favored place for medical tourism. I believe India can offer a lot as many other countries are charging three to four times of what an Indian hospital or doctor charges. In partnership with government we would like to make that entire experience more seamless for an international tourist and at the same time can also do our adherence to standards. We are basically trying to apply for JCI Standards; we are creating that quality accreditation which can also enable the patients to get more confidence.

 

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