Rajeev Agarwal, General Manager Healthcare Informatics, Philips is a business leader, having extensive experience in healthcare IT solutions for emerging markets.
In conversation with Shally Makin, he speaks about the range of products provided by Philips in the healthcare
What is your perspective on the growing healthcare IT market in India vis–vis the global market? What is your share of this market?
Primary healthcare market in India is growing very rapidly because a lot of users are harnessing the power of IT along with the power of telecommunication. These help in increasing the efficiency of people. People, who do not adopt them, get convinced at a later stage. They swing like a pendulum in the other direction to do much better in the sector because of its potentiality. The Indian market and the global market are both different as their needs are different. We still are not able to provide healthcare to a lot of people; there is a need to reach to a large number of people in a systematic way. We hope to make health the centre of government with more public private partnerships.
Enlist some key opportunities and challenges that health IT solution providers face in the Indian market.
The challenge is adoption. The providers have to show the value of the product. The other opportunity is telecommunication from the perspective of healthcare industry needs. We talk about reliability in healthcare, which is not offered by the telecom industry despite the high speed. Healthcare is a patient oriented industry and due to slow speed, the networks are not reliable and one cannot take risk of patient life with such service. The second area is demonstrating the return on investment (ROI). This is not needed in other countries as either the government or insurers provide funds, and neither of the option is available here in India. But I do not take this as one of the major barriers
Provide an overview of the products, solutions and services offered by Philips in this space.
We have been in the market for quite a few years. Earlier, health informatics was only an add on for the company, but now it is one of our core areas of focus. We are currently working on four areasradiology informatics, cardiology informatics, critical care informatics and tele-enabling. There are few changes being made in Delhi, and other major projects which will be introduced next year. With respect to radiology informatics, there has been a huge change in terms of adoption by users as compared to five years back. To the extent that government and state government are putting up a lot of tenders and typically they are the last ones to adopt except for teaching institutes. Definitely there has been a great change there. We have launched product range for’ IntelliSpace’ in healthcare. The ‘IntelliSpace’ has two things to focus onradiology and the whole community behind them, like clinicians, surgeons, and whoever needs that information critically with all categories of users. Image reporting, management, distribution, analysis, and all other areas of activity, which occur between practitioners and clinicians, can now be done anytime anywhere not only on the workstations but also on a laptop or an iPad. The idea is to put the power in their hands and ensure that they are not tied down to their desk. With this power, it helps them to collaborate. With collaboration they can make much better decision.
Radiology informatics is being increasingly adopted by radiology departments for improving their workflow. What is the USP of the solutions offered by you in this segment?
IntelliSpace’s USP is, that it can be used anywhere anytime. For instance, when a patient gets a CT scan or MRI done, the reports might be confined to the radiologists’ desk only. With this solution provided by Philips, they are not restricted, and from anywhere the analysis can be done at any point of time. With such solutions, the total cost of ownership (TCO) also comes down as it is on the server. The product becomes a cost-effective entity in the following years. Even from perspective of IT department, it’s beneficial as they don’t have to maintain or upgrade the whole database for the end points. They just have to focus on the server. The product has a complete TCO oriented approach, which adds value to encourage more and more clinical collaborations.
We want to bring value. With this reason, we are spending a lot in innovation for the local market. Our approach to achieve this will focus on more partnerships in our ecosystem. Local innovation and partnership are the two pillars that we stand on
The integration of IT in the cardiology department has emerged as one of the key focus areas within the health IT space. How do you plan to target this segment in India with the range of products offered by you in the clinical informatics department?
We have the longest pedigree in this area and we are taking this pedigree forward. The cardiology department is a closed loop as the same department works on treatment and analysis unlike the radiology department. The technology ensures the whole care cycle of the patient starting from the point when an ambulance is called for. The ambulance may have an MRx monitor, a product offered by Philips. From there they transmit information to the hospital. Alternatively it can advise the nurse in the ambulance, what action has to be taken. In the hospital, the cardiology department already receives the information, thereafter ECG, path lab and ultrasound reports are collated together in a unified manner to be made available to the clinician.
India being a cost-sensitive market, IT accounts for a meagre investment in a hospital’s budget. How cost-effective are your products/solutions as compared to other solutions in the sector?
I do not think that India is a cost-sensitive market; rather it’s a value-sensitive market. The difference is that if you try to bring in the solution which worked somewhere else, it will not work here because the value equation is completely different. Our approach is to bring the right technology mix in the product, which is required to provide additional value to the market and the customer is ready to pay any amount for it. The customer sees the benefit in the product, which makes them understand the value of it. As we have seen over the years, the radiology and the cardiology solutions are not the blind adaption. On the other hand, with respect to the budget of the county, we see the industry as the commercial product. Out of the three verticals, capital expenditure (CAPEX), operating expenditure (OPEX) and Financing Expenditure (FEX) models, if there is no upfront for CAPEX, it becomes the commercial product with the other two.
Going further, what are your future plans and strategies for growth in the Indian healthcare IT market?
We invest in a lot of local R&D at the Philips Innovation Campus with a more focussed eye on the Indian solutions. We prefer more of R&D, as we do not want to blindly bring technology. We want to bring value. With this reason, we are spending a lot in innovation for the local market. Our approach to achieve this will focus on more partnerships in our ecosystem. Local innovation and partnership are the two pillars that we stand on.