Started in 1998, Amrita Institute of Medical Science,Â Kochi, has a massive healthcare infrastructure withÂ over 26,00,000 sq. ft of built-up area spread overÂ 94 acres. The hospital has 25 modern operatingÂ theatres, 210 equipped intensive-care beds, a fullyÂ computerised and networked Hospital InformationÂ System (HIS), a fully digital radiology department,Â a 24/7 telemedicine service and a NABL accreditedÂ clinical laboratory.
In an interview with eHEALTH, AIMSâs MedicalÂ Director, Dr Prem Nair, talks about his hospitalâsÂ significant achievements, recent Health IT initiativesÂ and future plans. Excerpts:
What has been your most recentÂ professional milestone?
The liver transplant programmeÂ which started two years ago is theÂ most important achievement forÂ us professionally, medically andÂ administratively. Unlike otherÂ transplants, liver transplant requiresÂ co-ordinated efforts from a large teamÂ of physicians, social workers, supportÂ personnel, laboratory personnel,Â and other professionals from variousÂ medical disciplines. It also requires aÂ large infrastructural and critical careÂ support. With legions of patients comingÂ in for a transplant at AIMS, we considerÂ it as our very proud achievement.
Could you detail upon AIMSâsÂ remarkable achievements in the pastÂ one year?
Over the years we have expanded ourÂ inpatient and outpatient services. WeÂ have gone up from 5,50,000 to 6,50,000Â lakhs outpatients. Our inpatient activityÂ has also increased from 40,000 to 42,000Â last year. Overall, we have registered aÂ growth of 12 per cent annually. In theÂ last 2 years, AIMS has been receiving aÂ large number of international patientsÂ from all over the world. Their numbersÂ have increased so much that we haveÂ had to develop a special facility toÂ accommodate these patients and theirÂ relatives. We consider it an importantÂ achievement because of the trustÂ these patients bestow on us. We haveÂ also expanded our medical servicesÂ through the outreach programme toÂ the Andaman and Nicobar IslandsÂ and the Lakshadweep Islands. WeÂ are also looking at starting theÂ outreach programmes within Kerala. Â Additionally, we have also set up manyÂ primary health centres in rural Kerala.
On the technology front, weÂ always have had the latest biomedicalÂ equipments. We have also maintainedÂ a very high quality of imaging. And, weÂ have developed centers of excellenceÂ which are multi-disciplinary in nature.Â For instance, we have set up theÂ Department of Head and Neck whereÂ a multi-disciplinary team of specialistsÂ in the fields of head and necksurgery,Â plastic surgery, maxillofacial surgery,Â neurosurgery and otorhinolaryngologyÂ look at the management of complexÂ ailments which require multidisciplinaryÂ approach. Also, we haveÂ a NABL recognised fully-automatedÂ laboratory with a very high level ofÂ quality control. The laboratory isÂ operational 24×7 and conducts all kindsÂ of routine biochemical, hematologic,Â pathologic and micro-biologicÂ investigations. In addition, we also haveÂ an advanced diagnostic laboratory thatÂ does all the molecular diagnostics.
Could you brief us about the newÂ initiatives being undertaken by theÂ hospital in the areas of academics andÂ research?
We have added numerous PostÂ Graduate programmes in medicine,Â pharmacy, nursing, dentistry; MastersÂ programme in basic sciences; andÂ Doctoral programme in basic sciencesÂ as well as in clinical areas.
AIMS has received accreditation fromÂ the most reputed certifi cation bodies,Â such as, National Accreditation BoardÂ for Hospitals and Healthcare ProvidersÂ (NABH) and National Assessment andÂ Accreditation Council (NAAC) for theÂ educational programmes. We haveÂ also received an A grade from theÂ UGC, which is the highest in its fi eld.Â We have been certifi ed by NABL andÂ ISO also. Over the past several years,Â we have initiated some innovativeÂ educational programmes like PhysicianÂ Assistant where we provide an M.Sc.Â degree in Allied Health Sciences. Otherdisciplines are Perfusion Technology,Â Diabetes Sciences, Diabetes Education,Â Medical Laboratory Technology,Â Neuro-Electro- Physiology, RespiratoryÂ Therapy, Cardio Vascular Technology.
The recent most importantÂ development at AIMS is starting aÂ major research initiative. AIMS hasbeen awarded research protocolsÂ from funding agencies such asÂ the Department of BiotechnologyÂ (GOI), the Department of ScienceÂ and Technology (GOI), the IndianÂ Council of Medical Research, NationalÂ Institute of Health, USA, and the StateÂ Department of Â Science, TechnologyÂ and Environment and numerousÂ industry grants to start a very majorÂ research initiative. So, the Â major pushÂ is on research. Itâs a very uncommonÂ feature of a hospital in India. I say this Â because there are very few hospitals inÂ India that have initiated major research Â and educational programmes.
How has the hospitalâs IT Â preparednessÂ improved patient care, streamlined theÂ hospital operations and increased theÂ productivity of its facilities?
We are probably the only hospital inÂ India to start an integrated HospitalÂ Information System (HIS) from the veryÂ fi rst day of operation. We have bothÂ administrative and clinical informationÂ systems as well as PACS from theÂ very beginning. Subsequently, ourÂ indigenously developed HIS system hasÂ evolved substantially over a period ofÂ time. Our HIS system Â provides a networkÂ system linking every area of hospitalÂ function from fi nance to purchasing,Â admission to discharge Â and fromÂ radiology imaging to histopathologicalÂ imaging. We also maintain electronicÂ medical records. Therefore, ours is aÂ paperless system. The HIS has a strong Â influence on the hospitalâs functionsÂ since itâs implementation. To give youÂ an example, all internal and externalÂ communication in AIMS is done through emails, which saves paper. AÂ major advantage of implementing HISÂ has been the improvement in patientÂ care. For instance, patient care data isavailable instantly at the point of careÂ because the system allows centralisedÂ access to all organisational and patientÂ data through a single web interface toÂ any authorised user. We have also beenÂ adding substantially large number of Â reporting modules. They are of useÂ to the administration as we get realÂ time information on administrativeÂ measurables department-wise,Â institute-wise, patient number andÂ procedure number. It enables us toÂ do real time costing department-wiseÂ and doctor-wise, and look at some ofÂ the wastages that can be prevented orÂ reduced. We also conduct audits based Â on follow-up materials that can be veryÂ quickly picked up from the HIS.
One of the areasÂ of concern thatÂ we are addressingÂ very vigorouslyÂ is in the fi eld ofÂ research where weÂ are looking at theÂ lowest cost of aÂ particular service,Â so that we are ableÂ to provide fairlyÂ remarkable amountÂ of healthcareÂ services includingÂ surgeries at a veryÂ low cost.
What are the recent innovativeÂ developments at Amrita Technologies?
Amrita Technologies is developing anÂ eHealth grid which would link multipleÂ institutions at the tertiary level in theÂ form of a horizontal link, and verticalÂ link down from the tertiary to theÂ primary health centres to sub centres.Â We are looking at some models andÂ pilot projects where we can provide aÂ grid concept to make available patientcareÂ information across regions andÂ populations. We are very excited aboutÂ this project as itâs going to have a majorÂ impact on health care.
Are there, at present, any programmesÂ or schemes to provide affordable healthÂ care facilities to the common man?Â
The hospital has 500 beds reserved forÂ the poor in the general ward whereÂ they get free medical treatment. WeÂ are working with the government onÂ a public-private partnership modeÂ to provide cost-effective health careÂ to people with a very basic healthÂ insurance programme. AIMS runsÂ charitable programmes funded by fundsÂ that the ashram receives. The hospitalâsÂ founder Sri Mata Amritananadamayi Â runs a large number of humanitarianÂ activities funded by donations fromÂ millions of devotees. A large chunkÂ of the donations received, goes notÂ just into healthcare, but also in otherÂ projects, such as, building housesÂ for the poor, providing pensions forÂ widows or elderly women, schools forÂ the poor, old age homes etc.
One of the areas of concern thatÂ we are addressing very vigorously isÂ in the fi eld of research where we areÂ looking at the lowest cost of a particular Â service, so that we are able to provideÂ fairly remarkable amount of healthcareÂ services including surgeries at a veryÂ low cost in a controlled environment.Â Also, we are the only institution Â whoÂ is at the forefront of Palliative care.Â We are looking at setting up a societyÂ here members of the communityÂ make a very minimal contribution andÂ support each other in the geriatric ageÂ group or chronically-ill age group. TheÂ community members are trained to goÂ to the homes, check on basic medicalÂ parameters, collect blood samplesÂ and send it to the Â health centres. ThisÂ can dramatically reduce the cost ofÂ healthcare and improve the quality ofÂ life of the patient and their family.