Interview

Star Performers : R Guru Moorthy, utive Director, Karishma Software Ltd.

Q. Karishma Software has been recently awarded with the IBM Public Sector Top Star Award under global healthcare and life sciences category. How do you feel about being acknowledged with such a prestigious award? What do you think gives Karishma Software the competitive edge over others?
A. Being recognised as a significant player in the global healthcare and life sciences domain is a fantastic achievement, especially for an Indian IT product company. Being in the company of worlds largest healthcare IT firms gives us a sense of arrival. Our dedicated team and our clients best wishes have resulted in this honour.

The competitive edge that Karishma has over others includes many things such as the terrific implementation record that we maintain; we help hospitals standardise their processes more effectively; our strong focus on EMR and Clinical pathways specifically for Oncology, Cardiology, Orthopaedics, Ophthalmology, HIV and OBGYN; we make sure that quality clinical processes and decision support systems are used extensively; our products have better architecture and easier GUI; our clients vouch for increased productivity, efficiencies and revenues.

Q. Health IT market in India is estimated at US$ 3 billion and expected to grow over the next 3-5 years. What is your perception about the level of preparedness for IT uptake among healthcare service providers in India?
A. We have seen many changes in the perception of healthcare entities towards IT, including an increase in the level of preparedness. In future, due to spiralling staff cost, shortage of staff, high attrition rate in hospitals and the urge to benefit from clinical processes, stakeholders will be pushed to use IT progressively more than the current levels. Usage of data for better marketing and quality is now becoming essential. Also, the younger people coming into the field have better pre-disposition towards computers and technology.

Q. Which parts of the globe are you focussing on as potential geographies? What are the key products Karishma Software has to offer the healthcare industry in India?
A. We have had substantial breakthroughs in Tanzania, Kenya, Malaysia, Indonesia, South Africa, Bahrain and UAE. From a 1300 bed hospital in Dar-es-Salaam to a network of 120 clinics in Malaysia, we have been very successful in delivering significant value to our customers. Our Software, managing 25,000 beds daily and more than 3 million OP visits per year has given us a good standing.

Our focus over the next three years will be India, Africa, Middle East, South Asia and the USA. The product suites Karishma offers today are Jeeva- Hospital Information system, Sanjeeva- Telemedicine System, ManageHealth Clinic Management System and MARCH- Medical Access for Rural and Community Health.

Q. How does your business partnerships/alliances with leading vendors such as IBM, Intel and Oracle help in delivering value for your clients?
A. These relationships primarily help the clients in reducing cost of ownership, getting better value for money and access to current technologies. This also helps create a user group forum to exchange ideas and experiences from different countries. IBM is a big player in healthcare consultancy, Intels focus on digital health is now getting more attention, Oracle HTB is striving hard to get acceptability, and hence, value proposition for client will come from different directions and different initiatives. As people who engage the client, we play a central role, extremely critical and important.

Q.  Even large hospitals today spend only 2% of their turnover on IT. What is the role you foresee for Karishma Software given the current scenario of limited IT adoption in the Indian healthcare industry?
A. We believe over the next three years the IT spend will increase to 34% for large hospitals. The need to have better control, accurate data, standardised processes, consolidation of information and data integrity will propel these clients to look at IT adoption more seriously. The cost of storage has come down, images are getting digitised more often now, clinical pathways or some kind of guidelines will become essential as time goes by, revenue leakages and wastages will become more unaffordable, hence IT will come to the fore.

The decision-making with reference to IT is a major problem and attention span of decision makers is low. Our role is to engage them in their professional environment more often and strike relationships, which they can fall back on, in case of problems. The advent of MHAs, and corporatisation will compel these organisations to look at IT more seriously because every PE investor is demanding, thus, we are looking at exciting times and we will play a greater role.

The differences that exist are due to the importance given to IT and the role it plays in good governance. The solutions also reflect the same. For example, tertiary care hospitals in India or in other regions have now started behaving in a similar fashion. The reason is increased dialogue and exchange of ideas and also medical tourism. However, smaller hospitals have a tendency to look at administrative functions more seriously. Training needs differ significantly. Being a product company we customise versions across the markets to suit the demands of the region.

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