Interview

Our focus will be on EHR and conforming to international healthcare standard : Amit Kumar, CIO of Max New York Life Insurance & Max Healthcare

Amit Kumar – an alumni of IIT Kanpur and a Masters in Computer Science from University of Kentucky, USA, is currently the CIO of Max New York Life Insurance & Max Healthcare. Previous to this he has worked with TCS and Citibank

Get a glimpse of the IT strategy of Max Healthcare in the following interview with eHealth.

Max Healthcare is considered as one of the best and fastest growing private healthcare companies of the country. What is the vision of Max in terms of making its facilities as best-in-class in terms of IT capacity and availability of advanced medical technologies?

We have been working quite hard to develop an overall IT strategy for Max Healthcare. Presently, we have a Business Plan in place and by implementing the same, we expect our hospitals to reach the international level of automation. We have options to either go for the new international ERP software from our in-house development team or to strengthen the existing one to meet the functional and operational requirements. Our focus will be on Electronic Health Record (EHR) and conforming to international healthcare standard.

In spite of a stupendous growth of healthcare industry in India (with a CAGR of nearly 16% over last few years), the average IT adoption rate stands at a dismal 5%. What according to you puts-off big-scale IT investment decisions of most healthcare players?

Financial constraints seem to be the primary reason behind this. It is always a challenge to get budgets for IT spend, over medical equipments. Nevertheless, the extent of Data that is stored proves to be so important that IT infrastructure has started becoming the back bone of healthcare institutions. Also, the industry will gradually appreciate benefits of IT in areas such as – clinical process improvement, operational efficiency and care management. However, establishing Health Data Centre and BCP is still a capital intensive component in IT infrastructure development.

What is the practice at Max with respect to EMR & PACS? What IT backbone, platforms and standards are being employed for this purpose?

We are yet to implement our EMR project. The PACS solution has been identified, but the procurement is yet to happen. Our core software is on SQL  and the WAN connectivity runs on leased lines. With regard to standards, Max is following its own internal standards. Since no single standard exists today, it becomes very challenging to get doctors acceptance on any particular software for recording medical data.

What crucial advantages has Max Healthcare experienced in terms of operational, procedural and business excellence through use of EMR & PACS?

PACS helps to deliver processed images that get visible in EMR. The 3D images gives 100% clarification to surgeons before they walk into the OT. Certainly, this gives a lot of leverage for surgical procedures.

Max Healthcare facilities are already certified under ISO 9001:2000 and from September 06 Max has adopted Six Sigma standards for higher efficiency and service quality. How have you integrated your enterprise-wide IT strategy to leverage such quality control practices in operations and services?

Incorporation of quality and performance control standards defi-nitely helps in boosting efficiency and consistency. Certain processes have been optimized, for instance – auto indent in materials department saves time to utilise for other activities. Bar Code in inventory control and pathology sample collection has also made life easy.

Max Healthcare Institute has initiated the Max TeleMedTM programme for spreading out its services outside urban centers. What is the level of success in this initiative? What are the service offerings and business model of this initiative?

While this was working fine by connecting to remote locations, we are not doing much in this at present, as Max is yet to make a business plan to promote the facility in a bigger way.

Currently, one of the biggest challenges of the healthcare industry is to develop a consensus among service providers for equitable sharing of medical  data among each other. While there are a few concerns regarding privacy issues, the real apprehension seem to be more on bottom-line effects for individual players. What is your view on this and how does Max foresee such an initiative within the healthcare industry?

A standard on this is yet to be seen where technology can help one hospital to share their patient info with others.  Introduction of smart cards will automate this process and help  decision makers to put data sharing process in place.  

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