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With tech crowd management improves, waiting period reduces in AIIMS

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The online appointment system at AIIMS has dramatically changed the overall experience of the people who are seeking appointments and the crowd management at registration counter for the hospital staff. And, now except for few departments, the dates are always available even for a walk-in

By Mohd Ujaley

Getting an appointment with a doctor at government’s run All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) has not been less than a fairytale for many who have tried their luck. About 9000-1000 people attempt to get an appointment every day. They start queuing up by 3 AM in the morning, and those who fail to get-in, wait for the next day and the lucky one move to the next queue. This has been the usual story at the India’s premium medical institute, well known to an auto-rickshaw driver to a netizen. However with the intervention of technology, all these are changing now.

Recently, as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Digital India initiative, the National Informatics Centre (NIC), a unit of Ministry of Information Technology, has developed an Online Registration System (ORS) to book an online OPD appointment for various departments in the government hospital across the country. In the first phase of implementation, four major hospitals, including AIIMS launched an online appointment system with the help of ORS for its 170 OPDs and Clinics. The new system has dramatically changed the overall experience of the people who are seeking appointments and the crowd management at registration counter for the hospital staff. And, it is interesting to note that except for few departments, now the dates are always available even for walk-in.

“Earlier, people simply did not know the process. They were on the mercy of the touts and middlemen who managed the show outside AIIMS premises. And this has also lead to lot of corruption and leakages in the system, so to have all these lacuna plugged, we have devised an online appointment system wherein any person irrespective of their region and nationality can book an appointment” Dr Deepak Agrawal, Chairman Computerisation at AIIMS told EC.

Use of technology is nothing new for the government hospitals. In fact, most of the tertiary and some of the secondary level government hospitals across the country have implemented Hospital Management Information System (HMIS), a kind of hospital e-governance initiative, which integrates the entire resources of a hospital into one integrated software application for automating the back-end workflow, ultimately leading to a paperless environment at hospital. But so far, none of them had a proper mechanism of an appointment system in place to eliminate long queues at the registration counters and validate the demographic details given by the patient to avoid duplicity of the records. “At AIIMS we receive about 9,000-10,000 patients per day and if you add two relatives to each patient, the number goes to 30,000 person in a day, managing such a huge gathering is a humongous task. Only technology driven system could have smoothened the process of crowd management and that is why we have chosen online appointment system,” said Dr Agrawal.

More than anything else, the new systems at AIIMS has substantially reduced the waiting time, a patient who comes with a prior appointment spend less than two hours at the hospital. Even the department such as ENT, Orthopaedic and Skin care which once had a six-month waiting period, the waiting period has now been reduced to  one and half month.

Basically, ORS is a cloud technology based platform hosted at National Data Centre in Delhi. The portal has created a basic framework to link any government hospitals across the country to facilitate online appointments.  So far, 11 hospitals have adopted ORS and in last five months, they have seen over 82,000 online bookings. The majority of patients — as many as 65,000 — have sought appointments in AIIMS, followed by over 7,100 in Dr.Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital and about 5,600 in National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, Karnataka. Dr Agrawal informs that with the success of the system, Ministry of Information Technology and Ministry of Health & Family Welfare are collaborating to push all the states to adopt it. And, they have agreed in-principle to implement it across all the AIIMS. Later on, all the centrally funded government hospitals will be encourage to adopt it.

Also, AIIMS is in the process of designing multiple studies to understand the impact of the new system, which includes actual patient satisfaction to the actual time taken to cure-up the disease. “There are various measures we are taking to understand how long a patient is spending back after seeing the doctor or how much time it took them to get the final treatment. Within few months the outcome of the study will be out,” explained Dr Agrawal. “But change is already visible on the ground and the patient who have been here, they know it,” he adds.

On the question of whether AIIMS is looking at any improvement or any change in the new system, he said, “No system is perfect. We have many ideas and we are working around to bring new innovation to the system. In next few months, we will customise the appointment system in such way that it will not only offer the basic information but also share the details about the doctors, about the departments and where does a particular doctors sit etc.” “Our aim is to customise the operation to the level of an individual patient needs. And, that shall be the real showcasing of the IT and health put together for the benefit of common-man.”


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