Arvind Sivaramakrishnan, CIO, Apollo Hospitals Enterprises Ltd, in conversation with Shahid Akhter, ENN, talks about the IT initiatives and innovations at Apollo Hospitals
In what way has IT affected global healthcare delivery and comparatively, how has India benefited from this ?
India is undoubtedly the leader in IT solutions. With abundant talent from the IT industry, Indian healthcare has greatly benefitted from solutions that aide effectiveness and efficiency to healthcare delivery for patients, providers and associated sectors. We have clearly seen a surge in the implementation of hospital information systems across the country. The medical imaging solutions such as PACs have matured and eHealth and mhealth is finding significant adoption. Both eHealth and mhealth solutions have opened up a lot of innovation in solutions for the delivery of healthcare and the awareness of health related matters and managing chronic diseases. This has created a very healthy cycle of growth for the healthcare and IT industries; its management, has increased health and wellness awareness in the society and has benefited public health programs and population health.
Could you give an idea of the scale of IT dependence in Apollo hospitals?
It is an inherent part of the strategy of Apollo Hospitals. We constantly assess the effective adoption and implementation of technology in all our initiatives. Our models of Clinical, Service and Operational excellence have a great IT dependency and we believe that by using a combination of traditional and disruptive technologies we can add higher levels of efficiency to our overall system. Our IT solutions have greatly assisted us in achieving high standards of clinical excellence, patient safety and medication safety. Our hospitals and clinics are interconnected by a single hospital information system and we are clearly seeing the operational benefits and reduction in maintenance opex costs on IT.
Please elaborate on some of the obstacles faced in adopting IT in Indian healthcare domain.
Obstacles in adoption of IT in healthcare are typical to those faced world over. Change Management is crucial. While everyone would agree on the need for standardisation, the change associated with such initiatives have to be well managed and communicated. Training and operational hand holding are essential elements to successful implementations.
It is essential that IT solutions effectively align to hospital workflows and aide clinical and operational activities. Solutions have to be easy to use and intuitive. This will reduce the inertia to adopt and adapt such solutions.
How can IT tools help reduce raising healthcare costs?
IT tools help in reducing complex labor and overheads in operations. Telemedicine can greatly help reducing costs. Tele radiology is clearly helping in increasing accessibility and reducing costs. Innovative IT solutions at point of care help the clinicians and aide in managing patient safety and completely reduce adverse events. This greatly helps in increasing clinical effectiveness, positive outcomes, reduced infection rates and overall reduction in costs of healthcare. ICT is also a great tool for raising awareness and preventive medicine. Use of ICT in managing wellness reduces healthcare costs. Use of ICT in managing patient adherence to disease management protocols such as diabetes and hypertension also significantly contribute to reduction of healthcare costs.
Has data integration improved the clinicians user experience?
Absolutely. All data has to be delivered in a meaningful manner at the right place, at the right time and the translated to the right information. Silos of data are meaningless and will frustrate and confuse the clinicians. Furthermore, it is not safe. Integration is an absolute must and cannot be compromised.
“Apollo prism is our PHR with close to 2.5 million subscribed patients”
What are some of the unique IT initiatives you have adopted at Apollo?
We have a single HIS that connects all our hospitals and clinics. Using this we are able to have a single unique patient health identifier. This means one patient and one electronic health record and a seamless continuum of care. Our EMR is connected to a PHR “ Apollo Prism which has close to 2.5 million patients subscribed. We have an effective mHealth platform and our eHealth solutions are greatly effective. Our social media facebook page has 2 million fans on it. Our tele medicine practice has been very successful. We now have a very effective tele radiology practice that is serving domestic and international clients. Our eICU solution is truly state-of-the-art.
How have you integrated mobile applications?
Yes. The power of the system is greatly realized when its integrated and seamless. It removes operational overhead and benefits inter-departmental communication. Our clinical systems, supply chain, financials, HR and service solutions are integrated.
What is your assessment and strategy towards cloud, private and public?
Cloud strategy clearly has merits. Concerns around service from providers and security continue to remain and need to be addressed. Our hospital information system and imaging solution are on the private cloud and we have embraced the cloud for our HCM and Office productivity solutions. The risks and the benefits have to be carefully balanced and we have to pick solutions that fit our business need.
In a country like India, telemedicine can play a huge role. How do you forsee the problem and the solution.
Telemedicine is clearly a great asset and a boon to the healthcare delivery. The problem is clearly the lack of awareness and the misconceptions on its effectiveness. Unfortunately there are no binding regulations around tele medicine. This area has to be addressed. Technology is mature today and the mobile revolution of India can play a great partner to furthering tele health solutions. It will greatly help in bridging the demansupply gap that challenges the healthcare industry. The cost of healthcare can be significantly reduced and all our healthcare resources can be effectively maximized.
Next big thing happening at Apollo by way of IT ?
We are constantly evolving and innovating. Please do keep watching as we are coming up with exciting technology solutions to help us in our effective and efficient healthcare delivery.