April 2008

Conference on Emerging Role of IT in Healthcare, 29 February 2008, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi

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As healthcare sector is building up in India, so are the standards of service delivery and quality. In particular, IT has the capacity to play a crucial role and be a differentiator in this process. With software solutions and data management tools such as – electronic medical records, online health records, clinical information system, hospital information system, and applications such as – telemedicine, tele-radiology, GIS based health mapping and disease surveillance, management of healthcare is all set to be redefined.

With the purpose of promoting technology adoption in healthcare and take stock of initiatives in public and private sector, HOSMAC Foundation the non-profit wing of Hosmac India Pvt. Ltd. recently organised a one day seminar in New Delhi.

In the Welcome Address, Dr Vivek Desai, Managing Trustee, HOSMAC Foundation highlighted the potential role of IT in healthcare and shared his objective and long term vision in promoting the cause.

Professor M. S. Swaminathan
The key speaker of the event Professor M. S. Swaminathan,  Chairman, M. S. Swaminathan  Research Foundation   (MSSRF ) emphasised the power of information in the current knowledge economy, and encouraged stakeholders in healthcare sector to make best use of IT tools. In this context, he shared MSSRF’s flagship initiatives – Mission 2007 (renamed as ‘Every Village a Knowledge Centre’) and the ‘National Virtual Academy’ which are playing key role in promoting grass root development through ICTs.

Rajeev Pradhan, Director-Technology, HOSMAC India Pvt Ltd
The opening session focusing on ‘Telemedicine'(Chaired by Rajeev Pradhan, Director-Technology, HOSMAC India Pvt Ltd) had two of the most eminent persons of this domain – Dr. L S Satyamurthy from ISRO and Prof. Ashok Jhunjhunwala from IIT Chennai. Dr. Satyamurthy highlighted the efforts of ISRO in providing satellite based telemedicine network across the country and Prof. Jhunjhunwala delivered a sharp insight into the current public health scenario, while demonstrating, how low-cost technologies such as CorDECT (developed by TeNeT group of IIT-Chennai) can help in delivering healthcare in rural areas.

The second session on ‘Health Management Information Systems’ (Chaired by Dr. S.K. Das, Additional DG, MoHFW, GOI) had Dr. Sundeep Sahay, Advisor-HMIS, National Health Systems Resource Centre, presenting on heterogeneity of health information systems and Mr. K.K. Panchal, Joint Director, D&E Cell, Commissionerate of Health, Medical Services and Medical Education, Government of Gujarat, deliberating on the concept of GIS based health information systems.

Third session of the event, focused on application of geographical information systems (GIS) in healthcare. Chaired by Dr. T. Sundararaman, utive Director, National Health Systems Resource Centre (NHSRC), the speakers included – Dr. S. Sabesan, Deputy Director (Sr.Gr.), Chief Environmental Sciences & HRD, Vector Control Research Centre (ICMR) & Mr. Vishawajeet Ringe, Sr. Technical Director, Health Informatics Division, National Informatics Centre (NIC), MoHFW, GOI. While Dr. Sabesan presented on GIS mapping and its application in integrated disease vector surveillance, Mr. Ringe shared his experience in applying GIS techniques for mapping public health facilities and its use in effective program management.

The fourth and final session of the day presented a panel discussion of eminent speakers of the seminar, being moderated by Dr. J.P. Steinmann, Principal Advisor, Health Sector Support, GTZ.

Prof. Swaminathan being felicilated by Dr.J.N. Srivastava,Director-Public  Health , HOSMAC India Pvt. Ltd.
While stakeholders from both public and private sector agreed upon the need to harness the power of IT in improving healthcare management and service delivery, challenges in the form of – human capacity, data standardisation, technological interoperability and cost issues came up from members of the panel, as well as from audience. With greater acceptability and understanding among end users and policy makers, IT is poised to emerge as one of the most important tool in improving our healthcare system.

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