Annie Thakore, Head Administrator, CARE Hospitals, says that ICT has changed the way in which medical research is conducted; ICT can model the effects of new drugs, and can be used to conduct clinical trials in collaboration with international teams

Healthcare Information and Communication Technology is the use of information technology to improve the process of healthcare delivery. It is concerned primarily with streamlining administration and putting information into the hands of point-of-care professionals. IT can be used in various departments; in administrative tasks it can bring much needed efficiency.

Automated Medical Records System (AMRS) can facilitate more efficient process of care. Infrastructure that supports the administrative and clinical applications, administrative billing, electronic materials management, clinical and computerised provider order entry for drugs, lab test procedure, gets streamlined by IT. Picture archiving and communication systems for  filmless imaging, laboratory results and clinical decision support systems also use ICT for better synergy.

NABH accredits hospitals which have relevant ICT technologies / functionalities facilitating that are in line with standards laid by Access, Assessment and Continuity of Care (AAC) Criteria Group, Patient Rights and Education(PRE), Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI), Facilities Management and Safety (FMS), Human Resource Management (HRM) and Information Management System (IMS).

Robots have been used to perform very accurate operation, such as those on the brain. Teleconferencing has been used to share expertise; surgeons in one country can help those in the other; wireless transmission can serve as a link between hospitals and doctors. But the process of implementation must take into account the needs of the end-user and it must be scaled up carefully.

Providing Cashless Treatment to Artisans

Nagarajan Ranganathan, Vice President, ICICI Lombard, has created a mark in the industry with his efforts to provide cashless treatment through an IT based Rural Point of Service model

The product from ICICI Lombard was initiated through the Ministry of Handlooms and it targeted 26.2 lakh artisans and their family  members living in clusters spread across 29 states and 605 cities in India. It was a comprehensive health coverage plan, which offers cashless treatment for OPD patients for only `15,000. Cashless treatments for IPD patients  and reimbursement of medical expenses (OPD/IPD) are also provided under the plan.

The set up of cashless health facility network of 1,040 OPD Centres and 2,721 hospitals and clinics was envisaged. 91 percent beneficiaries made claims in first year itself. On an average 65 lakh claims are intiated per annum. It is decentralised paper based claim intimation and processing model and it works through manual procedures. This resulted into a lot of  concerns of late payment and provider grievance due to tons of claim papers received with no synchronicity in the billing pe- riod. At times there was late intimation, loss of documents in transit and delayed processing.

The changing computer literacy and availability of internet bandwidth led to the development of applications built on Oracle .NET platform and SQL based server. Such a web based application integrated simple dropdown menus, user  authentication modules for exclusivity, automated invoice generation for the specified billing period and served as tool for seamless BSI tracking. The Rural Point of Service (Rural POS) was further developed to address speedy claim  intimation and regularly monitored claim process and trends.

This resulted in ready access to treatment and claim history in a scenario where average claim hit for OPD is between 500-2000. The data loss was prevented as the activity of a provider can be tracked on real time basis. There is least amount of paper work and this is something that enables bulk claim processing and 67 percent reduction in the cost of backend operations.

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