January 2017

Advantage BIG DATA Analytics for HEALTHCARE

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Murali Pallikara, President, Cittabase Solutions

With the advent of Big Data Analytics, many areas of healthcare which were developed and proved as scientific theories decades ago are now being put into practice, say Founding Members of Cittabase Solutions, in an interview with Elets News Network (ENN).

How business intelligence and big data solutions are relevant to the Indian healthcare system? How can these technology solutions improve health delivery in India?

The healthcare enterprises in India have abundant data – data that depict their experience and data that hold the key for many of their problems. But more often than not, we find Indian healthcare enterprises so far have not attempted to dig deeper and unravel their data to their advantage, simply because of the sheer volume and disparateness. With the advent of Big Data Analytics, many areas of healthcare which were developed and proved as scientific theories decades ago are now being put into practice. For instance, for the research fraternity, a Business Intelligence (BI) or a Big Data Analytics implementation is a great boon in making areas such as personalised medicine a reality. These were areas which were thought upon as not commercially viable before the advent of BI and Big Data Analytics. Cognitive computing systems can collect and auto-analyse vital sign readings generated by the various medical instruments and wearable devices for patients in ICU and provide intuitive alerts to care-givers on their mobile devices for the timely intervention thereby ensuring better clinical outcome.

What are the key benefits Indian healthcare providers draw from implementation of business intelligence and analytics?

The current state of Indian healthcare industry is data-rich and information- poor. The primary goal of a Business Intelligence system implementation is to take charge of their data and convert it into more meaningful information and insights that lead to strategic and timely decisions. Thus, it enables healthcare enterprise administrators to control and cut-down costs by improving operational efficiency without compromising quality of care and outcome. Secondly, by integrating clinical and financial data and by making them available side-by-side for analysis, the clinicians and administrators have the ability to assess the efficacy of the diagnosis and treatment process and compare them against their alternatives. Thirdly, to keep up the satisfaction levels of a modern day patient who is more knowledgeable and demanding than ever before, BI systems can provide the transparency and accountability that they seek.

In a global context, where India is fast becoming a medical tourism destination of choice, to sustain and succeed in global competition, it is imperative for the Indian healthcare enterprises to periodically analyse the public sentiments. Big Data Analytics is a great new way to collate and integrate data available in the public domain such as social media, health forums, etc, and integrate it with their in-house data to measure and monitor their performance against patient satisfaction and sentiments. This will help to improve and maintain their standards according to the global patient’s expectation and requirements.

What does a hospital need to implement such solutions?

Unlike a decade or so ago, when healthcare analytics had just started to blossom in the developed economies, today it has become a lot more easier and cheaper to implement a BI or an Analytics solution. Over the last decade, the technologies have converged, many BI use-cases have been tested and ROI has been established. All these factors put together meant faster rollout, less expensive, low risk and highly agile enterprise-scale BI solution. We strongly recommend our clients to embark on BI solutions on a phased and foundational approach rather than a big bang one-time rollout of a mega BI solution. A team of experts comprising of healthcare business domain specialists and BI and Analytics technical specialists are critical for the implementation of a BI system. Besides that, it is the management will and support to implement a BI system and make it as the enterprise’s single-version-oftruth data repository is the most important need.

Andrew Joseph, Chief Product Officer, Cittabase Solutions

Please tell us what Cittabase is all about and also your key solutions designed for health institutions in India.

Cittabase is a BI and Analytics company. Cittabase specialises in Healthcare Analytics space. We have successfully implemented multiple Healthcare BI Solutions. These BI solutions have been designed to integrate disparate, heterogeneous data into a single repository and present the gist of the data to the senior executives by means of dashboards and reports. Putting all that solid experience into, Cittabase has come out with a Packaged Healthcare Analytics Solution, Lifeline Analytics, intended for a healthcare institution of any size, which makes a successful BI system implementation from the ground-up, quick and easy. We have a couple of other speciality centre specific products, diabetes care – intended for a diabetes speciality centre and oncolytics – intended for a cancer centre.

Unlike a decade or so ago, when healthcare analytics had just started to blossom in the developed economies, today it has become a lot more easier and cheaper to implement a BI or an Analytics solution

How do you see your solutions making an impact in government run institutions in India?

We have been working with public hospitals in ASEAN countries and we have a greater understanding of the challenges faced by government-run institutions. The solutions we provide can make significant impact in population health and wellness, infectious disease outbreak surveillance and control, cut down administrative costs, ability to effectively utilise scarce healthcare resource time to match demand and supply, etc.

What are your future plans for India?

Cittabase is based out of Chennai where it has its product R&D Centre and a support centre to exclusively serve our Indian clients. We plan to expand our R&D team this year and also we are planning to open offices in other cities (Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad and Vadodara) to stay close to our clients.

Sharing of clinical and patient data in India is a big challenge. How can this situation be improved? What steps are being taken by the government and other key stakeholders to address this issue?

Ananth Thyagarajan, Chief Executive Officer, Cittabase Solutions

Challenges faced by the industry in data sharing today by and large fall in two categories – operational and technical grounds and legal and ethical grounds. To improve technical and operational challenges of data sharing, the three most crucial things to keep in view are adherence to international data or code standards, infrastructural readiness and commitment from top management. Most of these challenges are intra-hospital or inter-hospital challenges and they can be addressed by the organisation’s internal teams. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has come up with EHR standards for In- dia which is a wonderful initiative. Healthcare institutions can adapt to these standards at least to enable them to share data as and when they need.

The challenges in data sharing that surround ethical and legal grounds are a bit more complex as they involve personal data protection. This is where government’s participation and involvement becomes crucial in making legislations to fully protect patient data and making sure that it is enforced properly.

How are Indian healthcare providers currently placed in terms of adopting IT-based solutions to improve effi ciencies?

Some of our large Indian clients are up there with their international counterparts in adopting IT-based solutions to improve efficiency and patient care. However there are challenges due to their phenomenal growth, acquisition and consolidation, etc. Small and Medium hospitals are still skeptical about analytics and Business Intelligence. New and emerging hospitals, which are highly techno-friendly, are keen to invest on IT-based solutions and taking steps in the right direction.

How healthcare ICT innovations are evolving in the Indian context?

The common concern in Indian Healthcare is the gap between the healthcare facilities available in urban and rural community due to the civil infrastructural shortfalls. Most of the ICT innovations in India at present are to close this gap using latest ICT and make those facilities accessible to the remote rural India. Mobile Real-Time Analytics has completely changed the way diagnostic and therapeutic procedures are used by clinicians.

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