Though Healthcare is a late adopter of IT, the Indian healthcare IT market is expected at $1.5 billion by 2020, as per NASSCOM. To talk about Healthcare in India and how Technology became an integral part I must start with the current status. Indian Healthcare Service expectation is sky high because of both population and diverse diseases, particularly when compared to supply. While there is a great demand for doctors and nurses, technology is likely to reduce human pain-points. Today from a moderate Indian Healthcare IT System can provide accounting framework and therefore help with entire billing, inventory management, store management, streamlined processes, and efficient management, hospitals will also experience better ROI. In the clinical side, electronic medical record, laboratory management, radiology reports, images and many more. Even ERP & CRM solutions and sophisticated integrations with modern technology adoptions are seen in good hospitals and diagnostic chains. Syed Kadam Murshed, Vice President IT at Future Oncology Hospital, Kolkata, speaks on the way forward for technology in the Indian healthcare sector. Edited excerpts.
How technology has become an integral part of the healthcare sector in India?
Technology has helped us in overcoming the major hurdles of globalization and international trade such as trade barrier, lack of common ethical standard, transportation cost and delay in information exchange including the change of the market place. Healthcare is not also an exception.
We fall short of 15 lakh doctors and 25 lakh nurses. Moreover available doctors and nurses and other resources are wrongly placed. In short, 70 percent of the Indian population lives in rural areas, whereas grossly 80 percent of the health facilities including skills are available in the big cities. The socio-economic-geography-skill gap itself offers an opportunity to integrate IT with the healthcare delivery ecosystem. So we needed to devise and frame ways to increase the productivity of the healthcare systems with such limited resources. So the Indian healthcare sector required to be IT-enabled to increase and ensure the delivery to become cost and time-efficient also effective as well, especially in case of patients in remote locations.
With the medical equipment are coming up IoT enabled and technically advanced, what are the new challenges a CIO from the healthcare sector can face?
IoT in Healthcare has really helped to reduce treatment cost and enhanced time, quality and management. Proactive treatments can be provided with realtime data from medical equipment. The adoption of those advanced systems also helps doctors discuss complex cases on net meetings across the globe. But CIO faces a continuous challenge on the service provider side.
Firstly, records show that 26% of IoT initiatives get success, 60% of them do not cross PoC level. This is an important indicator. Secondly, by the adoption of IoT, a tremendous amount of data is generated and he has very less space to store it. Third, most of the medical devices have a very old O/S to run as a console and prone to cyber-attacks. Fourth, IoT opens more surfaces for attacks and also maximum layers may be overlooked. Therefore CIO should have a double role in delivering hi-tech facilities and also a delicate sense regarding risks and treats.
In the healthcare industry, most of the decision-makers in the C-Level are medical doctors. As a head of Tech, what is your view on tech awareness among them? (Is there a challenge to convenience them?)
A doctor is responsible for the life and treatment of the patient but at the same time, he or she has to abide by half-baked legislation of the country. He or she will definitely take cautious steps in all respect. As a Tech Leader, I will not question his awareness. I will honestly support him for any digital adoption. I am sure he will definitely accept if it simplifies his complex decisions without errors. We need to build their confidence in the system. Yes, I agree that they need to learn a little bit of IT which they can. Just like we need to learn a little bit of medicine to support them. Thus we need to co-create and sustain Healthcare & IT.
What is the key technology disruptions Indian healthcare Industry is gearing up for?
Emerging technologies currently being investigated for transforming the Indian health system are namely robotics, virtual reality, AI, AR, 3D printing, drones and more. Microrobots will soon transform retinal surgery. It will completely change the way eye conditions caused by genetic defects are being treated today. Critical medical supplies and blood products will be delivered to patients in remote places while urgency through drones in almost no time.
Researches happening in 3D printing initially producing customized hearing aids and in some other areas. The goal is to achieve quality and affordable healthcare on time. The economic and social advantages should be gained with the handshaking of these technologies seamlessly into our existing systems. If done rightly, creating such disruptive models of healthcare will be beneficial.
Other than patient records, what are the ways a cybersecurity breach can affect a health care company?
There are plenty of other areas where security breaches can happen. Patient record and the accounting system are not the only creams for hackers. Few examples are: Medical Devices generally run on old software with vulnerable holes. If an unpatched costly device is compromised, a hospital might not be able to restart or replace it. Even pacemakers and other connected implants are hackable. If an infusion pump delivering a drug was infected by malware and slowed the medication delivery. Patient care will be affected without leaving a clue to anyone else.
Beyond patient records maintaining, what are the key tech innovations had happened in the Indian healthcare sector?
Healthcare delivery in India, unlike developed countries, is out of pocket expense for patients or relatives in most cases. It is a more fragmented system and very hard to define. Technology innovations and solutions are more complex and interesting in many aspects.
For example, a poor patient gets cheaper substitute medicines by virtue of tech innovation, while his payment is being done by fundraising. As a result, a lot of reverse innovations takes place. Moreover, many tech innovations happening across the globe delivering excellent outcomes. Increase in life expectancy carries actual evidence.