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Technology Thriving Rural Healthcare

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Manoj-Kumar

Healthcare in India is more about sick care rather than preventive care, says Manoj Kumar

Innovative technology can build up robust rural healthcare at an affordable price, says Manoj Kumar, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer, Ricoh India Limited in conversation with Romiya Das of Elets News Network (ENN)

What is your opinion on IT innovations making space in Indian healthcare domain?

Healthcare in India is more about sick care rather than preventive care and the situation can be changed by using technology through dissemination of information to the masses on adopting healthy living styles. Nearly 900 million mobile and 200 million Internet users use ICT programmes through mobiles and social media. We can work on health online platforms by using applications and gadgets, connecting patients live to their healthcare providers via telemedicine, and also make use of teleradiology and telediagnostics. Some of the research have highlighted that less than 50 per cent of patients take their medicine on time. So to cater this, auto reminder applications for timely intake of medicines can be helpful. Also, having electronically monitored and controlled healthcare centres which can store citizens health records electronically through which their medical data can be tracked and monitored.

Ricoh’s recently launched product – Picasso (Patient is Central to this Advanced Solution and Service Offering) is a picture archival communication system which helps storage and retrieval of medical data at an affordable cost. Such technology helps in improve the quality of healthcare delivery. Our spent on healthcare is a dismal 3-4 per cent of our GDP. In some of the advanced countries about 7-10 per cent is spent on healthcare. When it comes to healthcare our country spends mostly on maintaining infrastructure and health programmes. Very less amount is invested in technology – with innovative technology one can build capabilities, run training programmes Technology can be extensively used to promote healthcare today, what we are doing is just a fraction of what we are capable of.

Where does rural India lack in adopting or implementing IT in healthcare?

Adoption of IT facilities in healthcare is largely confined to the urban centres while the rural areas are still deprived of technology. Not too many IT providers reach out to the remote areas which consequences in low awareness levels and poor adoption of technology. There is no point in introducing a technology unless and until there is an entire ecosystem for people to be able to use the technology, and training is again a major concern. In a study conducted by a research centre in Amritsar, it was found that in reputed hospitals only one nurse was competent out of 30 nurses to carry out nursing facility. Unless we tap right kind of talent which has the bent of mind towards technology we will not be able to use it. The availability of technology is very low where the majority of our population lives. Secondly, to whatever extent it is available to them, we don’t have the ecosystem to use the technology effectively.

What is Ricoh’s assessment and strategy towards cloud computing in healthcare?

Ricoh is dealing in PACS – Picasso which is one of the product and the other is Electronic Health Record (EHR). By using cloud services, in some of the states with their respective governments, we have carried out mission projects which pertain to digitisation of health records by creating a network to maintain store and retrieve healthcare data. One of the Ricoh Group of companies already has a product which is available in the space of telemedicine. Cloud technology is the name of the game. It makes technology affordable, provides real-time access to the data and helps you to take decisions faster. Besides, without cloud I cannot see technology being delivered to the users.

How do you see the role of big data analytics and its key advantages in the healthcare segment?

Medical records, EHR and the healthcare trends and the data with respect to demographics, linking them with the health issues with people in different demographies, age group and lifestyles helps us to move more towards preventive medicines. Therefore, I think the big data analytics plays an important role in preventive healthcare.

How can one assure the patients that their data is secured?

Various facilities like virtual private networks, access control mechanisms and data security are in place to keep the data safe. There are lots of certifications which are available nowadays, where reputed agencies carry out all your audits in order to make sure that one is following the data with security norms. Once such a system is in place then there is no reason the patient should feel uncomfortable about the security of their data.

Healthcare is a focused vertical for Ricoh. We are working in promoting telemedicine and teleradiology in a big way. Using technology we can take hospitals to the door step of the patients

What can be done to make healthcare more affordable?

Technology in the form of software, data archival, data storage, data retrieval makes it possible to provide affordable healthcare to the patients. We need to have standardised monitoring system on the functioning of the various healthcare sectors. There should be a regulatory body or mechanism which checks the cost a patient is incurring today on healthcare. We do not have social security benefits in this country, so, most of the citizens have to spend from their own pocket. As for healthcare insurance schemes like RSBY, ESI etc are good initiatives in this regard but a lot more needs to be done. Complimenting this with technology can make the entire healthcare ecosystem affordable for the needy.

How do you see the IT adoption in the government hospitals?

I would not completely agree that it is only the private sector using technology, though they are ahead of the government sector. But, now the government hospitals also have started adopting technology in big way. They are trying to catch up as fast as they can. Of course this trend is seen in cities, but gradually this should transcend to the rural centres as well.

What is the next big thing happening at RICOH in healthcare?

Healthcare is a focused vertical for Ricoh. We have launched a unique software last year called DICOM which can be run on our printers through which you can print medical images on plain paper and not on the expensive HD film. I have already talked about Picasso. We have an in-house marketing team of healthcare specialists which keeps doing research in the healthcare market in India to bring out new innovative technology. At present, we are working in promoting telemedicine and teleradiology in a big way. Ricoh is hopeful about using technology and we feel that we can take hospitals to the door step of the patients. Telemedicine and teleradiology are other means through which we are going to make healthcare available to the citizens in the rural areas.

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