Microsoft’s focus on the healthcare sector has grown tremendously in recent times and it now has some exciting plans for its healthcare vertical. Dr. Hemant Kumar, Director, Health Solutions Group, Microsoft India, shares with eHEALTH the vision and plans for the new markets.
Q. What is the vision for Health Solutions Group of Microsoft?
A. For more than a decade, Microsoft has invested significant time and resources into understanding the needs of healthcare organisations with one clear vision – to improve health around the world through software innovation. To achieve this vision, we are developing solutions that encompass both the provider and the consumer to help them achieve their goals – from wellness to patient care and towards improving the overall efficiency of healthcare organisations.
Q. How do you plan to bring a distinct value proposition for the healthcare industry?
A. The Microsoft Health Solutions Group is focused on addressing the entire ‘continuum-of-care’ i.e. helping consumers in wellness and putting them at the centre of managing their personal (and their family’s) health information. On the provider side, Microsoft is enabling organisations with solutions to improve patient care, patient safety and overall efficiency of their operations.
Q. Microsoft Amalga HIS is quite successful in countries like Thailand, Malaysia and Philippines. When do you plan to roll out the same in the Indian market?
A. In all the new markets (including India) that we are entering, we are looking carefully for what we call the ‘Early Adopter Partners’ (EAP). These are organisations that share our vision of transforming healthcare experience for patients; those who put a huge premium on patient safety and improved outcomes; and those who are willing to take the necessary steps to realise this vision. We are in discussion with some prominent healthcare providers and hopefully we will have our first EAP soon.
Q. Kindly elucidate the characteristic features of Amalga HIS. How do you think it bring a differential advantage to the healthcare providers?
A. If I were to summarise the single most important distinguishing feature of Amalga HIS, it would be that – it’s an integrated solution, which combines cutting edge functionalities of an ERP, EMR and RIS/PACS all based on a single database. Unlike some other HIS products that have grown inorganically through a ‘patch-quilt’ approach of putting together a number of different sub systems, Amalga HIS has been built ground upwards to support operations in a complex hospital environment.
When one looks at details, the value proposition to organisations is huge ï¿½ there are no tedious integrations required with ERPs to manage financials and procurement; there is no requirement to engage with vendors to purchase and integrate a Radiology Information System (RIS) and a Picture Archival and Communications System (PACS). What this translates into is a vastly superior user experience; no redundant/orphan data; seamless access to all the information relating to a patient or to any type of records, be it related to the Human Resources or Materials Management or Pharmacy or Labs.
From the organisation standpoint all these features have favorable implications for cost as well as system
Q. Microsoft HealthVault promises to revolutionise care delivery by empowering patients with complete control of their health records. Kindly elaborate on how this will be done.
A. The current system of healthcare delivery across the world is centered around the providers. The patient’s information is fragmented all across the different providers that s/he interacts with ï¿½ different physicians, hospitals, labs, etc.
HealthVault represents a paradigm shift in the status quo. It puts the consumers at the centre of their health information and thereby empowers them to be the aggregator of such information for themselves and their families.
The most apt analogy is with the shift that happened in the travel industry. Today, the consumer is in-charge of his/her travel plans. S/he goes online, to look for the best deals for airlines tickets, cars and hotels and all this happens across multiple service providers. And this shift has been a win-win for both the consumers as well the service providers. There has been an all-round increase in efficiency and decrease in cost for both parties. HealthVault is aimed at bringing about a similar paradigm shift for consumers of healthcare.
HealthVault is a platform that allows, at a fundamental level, consumers to do three thingsï¿½ a) store, aggregate and share their own and their family’s health related data in a secure manner; b) connect with a variety of intelligent health devices like digital blood pressure measuring instruments, digital glucometers etc. such that their readings are automatically uploaded to their health accounts; and c) search health related information on the web through a search engine that’s tuned to mine health related data.
Q. In what ways do you think HealthVault can transform the healthcare ecosystem?
A. HealthVault will impact all the three principal stakeholders in the healthcare ecosystem ï¿½ the consumer, the provider and the technologists who write applications that interact with HealthVault.
As mentioned above, HealthVault puts the consumer at the centre of aggregating their health related information and puts them in-charge of how and whom they share the information with.
For providers ï¿½ it allows access to critical patient related data such as drug allergies, recent lab or radiology results and past medical history (should the patient desire to share the information) and thus allow doctors to take more informed decisions, more quickly.
For developers ï¿½ it allows easy access to the platform to write a variety of innovative applications that interact with HealthVault to provide dramatically new ways of utilising the information between different stakeholders in the health system.
For example, there are applications that allow a patient to share specific parts of their health records to their physicians by interacting with the physician’s practice management system; in a hospital setting it could be an application that interacts with the hospital’s HIS and pushes the discharge summary into the patient’s HealthVault account.
Q. Currently, health IT market in India is highly fragmented and considerably unstandardised. What will be your approach in this kind of a scenario?
A. There are several factors that will push the market towards standardisation. As consumers become more aware they will demand better services in terms of improved safety, improved outcomes – and in a highly competitive environment like the private healthcare sector in India, it will force the hospital to adopt practices and solutions that enable them to deliver such results and enable improved overall efficiency.
Microsoft has made a long term commitment to the Indian healthcare market and is bringing in the necessary resources and world-class software solutions to fulfill this commitment.
Another big driver towards more demanding consumers is the booming health tourism in India. These consumers will want world-class services.
To distinguish themselves as premium brands, private hospitals are moving towards accreditation of their institutions by national and international agencies like NABH, JCI, INGRES, etc. Interestingly, several public sector hospitals are also going through NABH accreditation in India.
All these are drivers towards standardisation of care and information management, and will automatically lead to hospitals choosing IT solutions based on benchmark industry standards.
Microsoft is an active partner in most of the standards bodies in the world, for example, Microsoft is a benefactor member of the HL7 body, the most widely used standard in hospital information systems today. All our solutions are compliant with multiple industry leading standards.
Q. What is your perception about market prospects in India?
A. We believe India is one of the most exciting emerging markets in the world in healthcare. There is a tremendous demand supply gap in terms of net beds required per unit population and all the major hospital groups and several corporate houses are actively engaged in planning and executing massive growth plans.
At the same time, the Indian market has its own peculiarities and to be successful, one needs to have lots of patience and flexibility in market approach.
Microsoft has made a long term commitment to the Indian healthcare market and is bringing in the necessary resources and world-class software solutions to fulfill this commitment. We are actively working towards making Microsoft a trusted partner for all the key stakeholders in the Indian health system to support the rapidly growing Indian health sector.