Vasukumar Nair, Director, 21st Century Informatics, in conversation withJapneet Sabharwal, ENN, about the growing role of technology in HMIS
How do you perceive the market for HIS & HMIS in India?
The Indian healthcare industry is growing rapidly with an annual growth rate of 18 to 20%. Our research shows there is a big market for ICT applications. If one side the driver is due to growing population and a need for healthcare, the other end is less penetration and standardization of ICT systems. We also see, there is huge opportunity for training and implementation of ICT systems on how physicians, nurses, pharmacists and other care personnel of hospitals are trained in ICT. There is also a need for a centralized Electronic Health Record (EHR). Lack of EHR prevents the development of speed, accuracy and transparency throughout the healthcare system. We see the market is dynamic and promising. Now, we find that both government and private are in the race to provide better facilities, though there are administrative delays. We have experience; the transformation in certain pockets of the country such as tier-I cities and technology are bringing change to our lives in a big way. There is a huge opportunity in the semi-urban and rural areas that can undergo the same transformation through ICT and this will lead to deep impacts in these areas in the field of medicine.
What are the unique HIS/HMIS solutions you have designed for Indian healthcare?
21stCentury Informatics is a Dutchpromoted company with a global delivery centre in India. Our contribution to the healthcare industry has been consistent over the years. Our Dutch experience has helped us offer a global perspective to the Indian healthcare industry with respect to healthcare ICT applications. The BENLUX region in Europe is a frontrunner in applying advanced healthcare ICT applications. Our endeavor is to apply the knowledge and successful process applications from our companys European experience to the emerging market. Our focus is on innovation and on adapting our product to the Indian healthcare industry.Presently we service more than 500 sites; our contribution to the healthcare industry has been consistent over the years. Our flagship product Apex enterprise HIS is a healthcare platform that comprises various plugin components. The end users can configure their required systems as per their requirements without coding and no hassles.
On the technology front, what are the new developments that have come up in this field?
We find a mix of new technologies that is being used or are in development. In Indian scenario, the revenue cycle management is still in the initial stages. Once health insurance comes into our landscape, there will be major changes in the IT systems towards global health insurance standards. Now in some areas, our customers are investing in automation of clinical processes. We find that there is a good acceptance of the implementation of EMR with Clinical Decision Support Systems in some countries. With respect to technology penetration, market response is good for cloud computing, healthcare analytics and BOYD. In the Indian scenario, we offer technology solutions and support with the usage of gadgets and devices and performance dashboard through mobile computing for the top management. Our team is constantly innovating to provide new features and functionality to our users. We have come out with a new platform that enables rapid expansion of functionality during IT product implementation. It is supported by advancement in cloud computing technology and emergence of the SaaS model. A few of our customers have tested this platform and we are currently in the process of taking it to the market.
What are the advantages the solution offers to the hospital caregivers?
Our flagship product Apex enterprise HIS is an integrated enterprise-wide application with respect to hospital management, electronic medical records and clinical intelligence with analytics. Most of the HIMS applications have a rigid business logic flow and it is very difficult to change application behavior. With this platform our end users can change the process based on business dynamics.
Typically, internal IT staff cannot change the application to map changes in business dynamics they need to contact the software company or implementer to get the application reconfigured. We have changed that situation by empowering the ICT staff even to build new systems and process.
With over decades of exposure and experience in healthcare, how do you visualize and uate the IT transformation?
Indias healthcare system faces considerable challenges, such as dearth of right staff, low doctorpatient ratio, quality of care, rising costs in services and medicines, major divide between urban and rural facilities, etc. However, if you look closely at certain hospitals and hospital corporates, they have focused significantly on IT whether for management control or for bringing clinical excellence. The telecom revolution and IT have provided a huge opportunity to care providers to transform their service delivery models and there are many success stories in private and public system with respect to the use of right technologies such as HIS, mobile health, tele-medicine, EHR and also automation of government hospitals by transforming health care.
With respect to technology penetration, market response is good for cloud computing, healthcare analytics and BOYD”
IT illiteracy and lack of awareness often act as initial obstacles for health IT players. Did you face similar challenges?
We dont find IT iliteracy as the main challenge. However adoption of new systems and process is sometimes difffult for stakeholders. Although there is some standardization in the clinical care areas, with respect to other processes, this field still lacks guidelines and standardization and there is less control over variance.
Security is an integral aspect of Health IT Infrastructure. Whats your take on this?
With healthcare information being exchanged within the hospital and extending beyond hospitals to other labs and clinics, the confidentiality of patient data, hospital business records and other revenue data becomes topmost priority. Providers must think beyond the conventional antivirus and firewall combination for safety and security. Now, with the Bring Your Own Device (BOYD), security and compliance aspects have become the primary concern,internal and external breach, regulatory compliance, and inadequate deployment of right technology are the key factors that top management looks at while assessing solution providers like us. We have made sure that we comply with global standards in messaging and data exchange. Our solutions meet the regulatory requirements and can manage security threats. Our team is constantly focusing its effort to come out with innovative features that tighten privacy, security and safety.