Magazine 756

Technology to Transform Healthcare

Harish-Pillai

We all in the private sector in India need the right ecosystem, says Dr Harish Pillai

Innovative technology and productive human resource can create a safe environment for patients at Aster Medcity, says Dr Harish Pillai, CEO, Aster Medcity & Cluster Head Kerela while speaking to Romiya Das of Elets News Network (ENN)

Brief us about the presence and reach of Aster DM Healthcare?

Presently Aster DM Healthcare is building a large chain in India. Our phase-1 focuses on south and western states. We hold three strong brands overseas – Access which is primarily into clinics and pharmacy; Aster – a flagship brand which is into clinics, pharmacy and hospitals; and Medcare deals clinics and hospitals. Whereas in India we have two strong brands –The Malabar Institute of Medical Sciences (MIMS) in the north of Kerala and we are starting off with Aster Medcity.

It is a good example of an Indian multinational healthcare company operating across eight countries. We have strong presence in UAE, Qatar, Oman, Jordan, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia; also we have just entered the Philippines.

How do you see the adoption of IT by Indian Healthcare industry?

Healthcare IT is gradually starting off from HIS, EMR. We have a lot of decision support systems which aids the clinicians to come to an accurate diagnosis. There are lots of peripheral devices when you talk about queue management aspects or pair mechanism and ecosystem of support services in the hospital like card-based services and many more. Beyond a hospital, many providers are leveraging their portals to be more interactive. You could have an interface with not just your own confidential EMR access to your lab information system (LIS) you could be in touch with your primary physician. The new trend in the next 5-10 years will be the takeover of mobile devices and home-based care with big mobile players like Samsung and Apple have their strong presence we will find more Indians accessing quality healthcare using their personal devices that are going to increase multifold.

How do you realise the adoption of mHealth by patients?

We are a young country, but we are also rapidly aging. Demographically south India is getting much older than north India. North India is very young and the northeast India is the youngest. So, for chronic disease management whether is its diabetes, hypertension etc., it is better to use mobile devices and reduce the frequency of actual encounters where you need go to see a doctor. There are many pilot projects where telehealth, as well as mobile devices, are in use currently in a lot of Indian hospitals and this trend will increase.

How flexible are our regulations for the healthcare companies?

As healthcare being a state subject, different states of India will legislate in their own domain and look at how much of allocation from their state budget they will give to healthcare. Many states are competing with each other for better ranking. In that matter states such as Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan are working well in the public health domain. A lot of changes are envisaged in central regulation to give specific focus to healthcare IT, mobile application, medical equipment and diagnostics.

How do you see the technological advancement shaping Indian healthcare system?

India is on the cutting edge when it comes to healthcare technology. We can do more in the area research and development. Typically, most of the hospitals in our country focus more on clinical excellence that is not how a good institution works. For a good institution need to have a fair balance of clinical excellence, academics and research, which is needed to retain the talent. We all in the private sector in India need the right ecosystem.

What is the status of medical tourism in India?

There is an increase in the international patient inflow, but much more needs to be done. In the public space, I feel that the healthcare should be free at the point of care focusing on primary and secondary care while private sector involvement should be more in secondary and tertiary care. It is known that more than 85 per cent of healthcare in India is given by private sector and not by the public sector. But going forward I feel that cross-subsidisation is the key, if you don’t have equity in healthcare it will create social tension. The only way we can create equity and adequate pay for deserving healthcare workers is to bring in patients from outside who can pay more and that’s what most of the countries have done. It also contributes greatly towards attracting investments bringing in technology and generating foreign exchange for the economy. Asian countries like Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia gets more patients than India which is an irony for a country of our size and talent we should top the list. Nevertheless, we have started doing the right things and in the coming years India going to be one of the huge dominant players in the world.

How is cloud computing aiding Aster’s healthcare services?

Cloud computing is a very costeffective way to store data. When you run a large network of hospitals as long as you can bring in security measures, all the data of the patients, whether it is EMR, PACS, LIS etc it can be stored in your own cloud. Aster DM Healthcare has an India cloud which is based out of a data cluster created physically in Kochi in Medcity and an international cloud data cluster is in Dubai for our overseas networks. Our plan is that any patient who encounters with an Aster network hospital will have a UHID which will enable the provider to access the patient’s data sitting in an exclusive cloud, and that’s the way forward.

Elaborate on the various technologies undertaken by Aster DM Healthcare?

We commissioned a study by Frost & Sullivan which compared and benchmarked several hospitals in India. As per the study, Aster Medcity one of the most technologically advanced healthcare destination in India. All assortments of technology under one roof ranging from the Da Vinci surgical robot, we have just introduced ROWA – India’s first pharmacy robot. It is a project which we are doing to eliminate medication errors. For imaging we have the latest 3 Tesla MRI, 256 slice iCT for nuclear medicine, PET-CT, we have introduced country’s first Biplane Hybrid Vascular Cathlab, we have digital OT’s, we have totally integrated electronic medical record right from ambulatory care to inpatient on a web-based platform.

How does the ROWA works?

The concept of the Pharma robot is that when you sit in a doctor’s consult room after your diagnosis is done the doctor makes your ePrescription. The ePriscription goes to the pharmacy database, the pharmacists asks you for the payment gateway (cash or insurance), once that validates the data goes to the robot. The robot is a large rectangular device it can access within nanoseconds and it is like a drug inventory. It has the robotic arms that will dispense the required drug to the patient in nanosecond eliminating the waiting time maintaining accuracy.

We got pharmacy robot from Germany. There are many pharmacy robots in rest of the Asia. Countries like Japan, China, and Singapore they have a lot of robots in public as well as private hospitals. In India we will soon have several robots in leading hospitals. Aster Medcity gives a lot of importance to medication management. We are trying to leverage technology and human resources creating a safe environment for patients.

What are Aster DM Healthcare’s business plans for the coming years?

We aim to be a 5000 bedded hospital chain in the next three years time. Our next launch is in Bangalore, where we are coming up with Aster CMI – a 500-bed hospital close to the international airport. We have a project in Hyderabad under the brand name of Prime. Maharashtra is a state of great interest to us, so we will expand there. We are also looking at more facilities in Karnataka. Therefore, we look for increasing our presence in all these southern and western states. While in northern and eastern states we would probably be opportunistic and if we find something interesting happening to fit into our business plan and strategy we would definitely go for it.

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