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Robust Infrastructure Needed to Improve Healthcare Delivery

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Inder Davalur, CIO, KIMS Hospitals

Gathering structured digital data would be one of the best investments any Government can make to its rural population. Reliable, accurate and timely data can lead to a better preventive care and education, says Inder Davalur, CIO, KIMS Hospitals, in conversation with Elets News Network (ENN).

Q KIMS believes in providing affordable comprehensive healthcare facilities in wide range of disciplines to people. How do you ensure cost-efficient yet best quality medical service to people?

KIMS is no exception when it comes to organisations that find themselves faced with the challenge of lowering costs while maintaining patient care quality. One approach that KIMS has taken is to examine the alignment of process and technology. While most organisations use or introduce technology to improve quality or reduce costs, the study of how technology aligns with the business process yields a much better approach.

A simple example is to consider the task of deploying wheelchair and stretcher assistance to patients efficiently. At KIMS, this challenge was met with a detailed study of the frequency, location and type of requests and the distribution of manpower to meet the demands. The choice of technology instead of increasing manpower was the genius move. By combining an app and smart phones, we were able to rearrange the manpower distribution dynamically without increasing the numbers while reducing the patient waiting time too.

Q In today’s times, technology is at forefront and playing a crucial role in transforming the healthcare ecosystem. How KIMS has harnessed technology to cater people?

At KIMS while the pace is not as quick as I would desire it to be, the effectiveness of its technology use is certainly noteworthy. Some of the areas where technology has already improved patient experience are the porter system, patient flow system (AI enabled), OT instruments flow (QR code enabled), and employee scorecard system (tied to patient flow system). While we are constantly looking for ways to improve the patient care with technology, we are also ensuring that the alignment of process with technology is not overlooked.

Q Technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Block chain have made things a lot easier and improved overall patient care in Metros. Do you think benefit of technology is percolating down to lower strata of people in rural areas?

India will continue to suffer from accessibility issues when it comes to healthcare delivery. Although smart phones users have increased in recent times, the use cases tend to be more in the realm of WhatsApp or Twitter than healthcare delivery. The application of AI (Artificial Intelligence) and ML (Machine Learning) must be leveraged to improve healthcare delivery in rural areas.

While Blockchain would be a great fit for a universal EHR (Electronic Health Record), we would do well by implementing telemedicine in hard to reach rural areas, provide wearable health monitors for those with known heart diseases or other lifestyle conditions such as Diabetes. WiFi and the Internet are vastly under-utilised when it comes to providing healthcare to the rural population.

Q What steps need to be taken to improve rural healthcare?

A robust infrastructure providing electricity and Wi-Fi would be a great start. This would require PPP projects that are strictly timebound and include incentives for the private entity in the partnership.

Another area where technology can boost the access to the rural areas is the deployment and use of portable smart devices that can help health workers to collect data in the field digitally and then upload to a central server once they are back in the office.

Gathering structured digital data would be one of the best investments any Government can make to its rural population. Reliable, accurate and timely data can lead to a better preventive care and education. The magic moment will be when we reverse the business model of making money from treatment to making money from providing health.

Q How do you rate Indian healthcare system with the global standards in terms of technology, accessibility and affordability?

India has a great deal of latent potential when it comes to healthcare delivery and the use of technology. While Indian healthcare costs are skyrocketing, it still continues to fare very favorably in comparison to our neighbors to the East or the West within the Asian continent. It is far better when compared to Europe and the USA.

However, accessibility continues to plague our rural and semi-urban areas. The infrastructure – roads, electricity, water and the Internet – are all below par compared to our wealthier Asian neighbours.

What India would do well is to make it attractive for our best minds in medicine, technology and hospitals to work together and create an ecosystem that is both progressive and sustainable. We have the money and mind but lack the will and right leadership to bring them together.

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