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Real-time interaction of service providers & paying agencies needed

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Dr Arun Kumar Datta, Vice President Operations (Medical), Rockland Hospital

What were some of the key challenges that you faced in IT implementation in 2012?
The key challenges that we faced in the procurement of a new Hospital Information System (HIS) was the selection of a reliable vendor. We needed a vendor who could assure capability of providing after-sales services, preferably locally. This was a major challenge.

What changes have you noticed in healthcare in areas such Health IT, Medical Equipment, Regulations, etc? 
HISs are becoming more sophisticated by the day and are adapting to the needs of hospitals as more and more hospitals install HIS. The limiting factor still remains the price, especially for smaller hospitals. With vendors offering an intake in it, there is an extra cost levied for customisation. Bi-directional interfacing of medical equipment with the HIS is becoming a very critical development in view of its inherent reduction of man-made errors and should be taken as the focus of the IT and other sectors.

What are the prospects of growth for the ICT implementation in Indian healthcare in 2013? 
There is a huge opportunity for ICT implementation in healthcare, both in the government and private hospitals. There shall be special emphasis on centralised purchase and inventory management systems.

Are there some specific segments of the healthcare sector that are likely to witness a larger demand for IT adoption?
The need for real-time interactions between service providers and agencies like insurance, Third Party Administrators (TPAs), Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS), Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS), etc, is going to increase. This is one area where there shall be a major demand for IT adoption, especially in the areas of approvals and submission of bills.

Talking about hospital management, how do you foresee the role of ICT growing in 2013? 
The administrator cadre of hospitals have realised the benefits that ICT can provide in facilitating and supporting the management function. As a result, more facilities will adopt such systems to work more efficiently.

What are the top technologies in healthcare that will play a crucial role in the year 2013 and beyond?
The installation of Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACs) and Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) with web-based systems will play a crucial role henceforth. The use of Computer on Wheels (COWs) / WiFi at the point of care will also facilitate services, especially in high-tech equipment dense areas such as ICUs, provided there is no interference with monitoring equipments.

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