December 2011

Thinking the IT Way

Dr Ajay Angirish

COO, Apollo Hospitals, Ahmedabad

With the vision to be the worlds largest healthcare service provider, Dr Ajay Angirish, COO, Apollo Hospitals, Ahmedabad, shares his experience with integrating operations and management through ICT

Most success stories start with the dream. The story of Apollo Hospitals is intrinsically tied to the story of Dr Prathap C Reddy, Founder and Chairman. His wondrous journey from rural Andhra Pradesh to architecting modern healthcare in India is synonymous with Apollos sweeping achievements in making India a global healthcare hub. Today, Apollo Hospitals group is the largest healthcare service provider in Asia and the third largest in the world. As a group, Apollo has touched and enriched over 20 million lives.

Healthcare is one of the Indias largest sectors. In terms of revenue and employment the sector is expanding rapidly. During the 1990s, Indian healthcare grew at a compound annual rate of 16 percent. Today the total value of the sector is more than US$ 34 billion. This translates to US$ 34 per capita, or roughly 6 percent of GDP. By 2012, Indias healthcare sector is projected to grow to nearly US$ 40 billion.

The private sector accounts for more than 80 percent of total healthcare spending in India. Unless there is a decline in the combined federal and state government deficit, which currently stands at roughly nine percent, the opportunity for significantly higher public health spending will be limited.

IT in Apollo

The roles are clear to improve availability, continuity of care, empowerment, patient safety and quality of care. As far as implementation of IT in Apollo Hospitals is concerned, we have introduced ten setups for telemedicine services and electronic appointment bookings, electronic transfer of prescription and Electronic Health Records (EHR). A good way to think about ICT is to consider all the uses of digital technology that already exists to help individuals, businesses and organisations by disseminating information. ICT covers any product that will store, retrieve, manipulate, transmit or receive information electronically in a digital form. The software like CRM, CAD, DTP data base software words processing, HIS, MIS are generally used. Equipment like for example, personal computers, digital television, robots, scanners (e.g. CAT, MRI etc.) use computers to process data while microprocessors are used in a variety of medical devices, computer guided lasers in surgery as all are an integral part of the system.

From human to robotic doctors, advances in telecommunications are revolutionising the delivery of out-patient healthcare. A robot doctor can be kept up-to-date and continually add knowledge faster than any human being. Remote diagnosis can be used to diagnose and treat patients remotely. Self monitoring by patients can be beneficial to monitor or treat their own conditions at home without the need for a visit to hospital. The telemedicine shows the significant growth in Gujarat state. We have almost ten centers in Gujarat including the center at Sabarmati jail to provide consultation for prisoners.

ICT model

Yes, The implementation cost is high initially but it has long term benefits like decreasing waiting times and better utilisation of resources, better coordination and information sharing among care providers, patient involvement in their own care activities, reduced risk of patient harm, effectiveness and efficiency of care service provision. All these activities directly or indirectly will be benefitted to us in long term.

We need to keep a check on the cost drivers (cost of capitals, operational cost, human resource cost) in order to provide affordable healthcare. India still needs to work a lot to improve emergency services through technology. We can really improve the medical services to all with the accessibility through a PPP model and affordable model for common population.

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