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How COVID-19 has redefined the health IT scenario, where are we heading ?

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The CIOs from the leading hospitals pan-India discussed how the digital health tech space is providing reliable technology and delivering high-quality, connected, and cost-effective care during the pandemic.

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The panelists of the session were Shuvankar Pramanick, Chief Digital Officer, Sir Gangaram Hospital, Veneeth Purushotaman, Group CIO, Aster DM Healthcare, Neeraj Lal, Vice President, Rainbow Children Hospital, Dr. Niraj Uttamani,Medical Director,Holy Family Hospital and Medical Research Center and Abdullah Saleem, Group CIO, Omni Hospitals.

Answering to the question how the role of CIOs has evolved during COVID-19 times and the technology was put into use, Veneeth Purushotaman, Group CIO, Aster DM Healthcare, said, ” In general the role of CIOs has evolved and it has become more consistent and they are responsible for the business outcomes and the technology. In particular, the healthcare domain is going through major transformation so the role of the CIOs is critical. Usage of telemedicine, teleradiology has become crucial during the pandemic, clinicians who were otherwise reluctant to indulge in it have used it widely. The eICU solution was helpful for the hospital workers; the technology played a significant role.”

Giving his perspective, Abdullah Saleem, Group CIO, Omni Hospitals, “Role of CIOs is not just technology driven there is more towards it. Due to this COVID-19 situation certain issues related to IT have been addressed pertinently be it IT budget, adoption of IT from the clinicians, and patients have changed drastically. As far as Omni hospital is concerned we had used telemedicine solutions to improve the patient experience especially geriatric community. We are also looking out for IT innovative solutions post pandemic right from EMR, patient portal, digital marketing, collating clinical data so it can help to provide quality treatment and insurance.”

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Also read: Covid-19: PM Modi to launch high throughput testing facilities in three cities

Adding to it Shuvankar Pramanick, Chief Digital Officer, Sir Gangaram Hospital, said, ” The healthcare business fraternity what is the real meaning of digitalisation. The COVID-19 has proved the effectiveness of a technology in the health segment is much more meaningful now from a patient, business, consultant perspective. During the COVID-19 the usage of technology in the healthcare domain accelerated and it post pandemic this will be seen as a potential business avenue. In Gangaram telemedicine was running for the past 10 years the pandemic made us use it in a much wider way. The family needed updates of the COVID-19 positive patient admitted in our hospital so we had to e-consultation. eICUs was widely used. More than any new innovations we used the present technology smartly.”

Dr. Niraj Uttamani,Medical Director,Holy Family Hospital and Medical Research Center, said ” The connection to the patient has become easier and now CIOs are responsible to keep in place an effective management IT system which takes healthcare to the next level. Designing new technologies, innovations to add onto the existing system has become necessary so that the connect between the patients and doctors becomes easier. We have upgraded the tele-consultation facility.”

Neeraj Lal, Vice President, Rainbow Children Hospital, said, ” Dealing with the mother and child care we had to be careful during the pandemic, so immediate steps were taken to switch to video consultation platforms. We consult at least 300 patients a day so 30 percent of our patients were switched to video consultation, e-prescription. Vaccination for neonates cannot be postponed, so we initiated a communication vaccination program where the hospital staff visited home to give the vaccines. HIMS are also integrated. Most of the doctors are not visiting the hospital everyday; the patients’ monitors are connected with the mobile of the doctor so they can monitor and update from home. In our hospital the desktop and laptop will get an alert four times a day to sanitise the hands and the gadgets they use such small initiative help the staff to be alert of hygiene and have control over getting infected. Pre and post corona we will continue to use this technology.”

Commenting on how National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) Purushotaman said, “It is the most awaited announcement, a welcoming move. Yes, there will be challenges in the initial phase in lack of a standard data model, multiple HIS. From the prospective patient this step will be of great advantage. In Aster DM we have started creating a master patient index, we are working with the government to make this mission successful. Most important will be the consent from the states without which the project will not move, secondly to start small by including an OP summary to be uploaded and go step by step. Third is the data, which should be protected.”

“A single digital health card for every citizen is a great step by the government. As a CIO I would say that we need to build a robust EHR system. A benchmark of technology in the healthcare system will be standardised by implementation of NDHM. In future the telehealth should be covered by the insurance company, there should be development of medical protocol for lab tests,” Pramanick.

Saleem adding his views on the NDHM said, “We must make utmost use of the NDHM. The challenge here will be putting in the right people and process to map the technology.”

Uttamani said, “IT should have a centralised data system, with different state governments should come into consensus as till now health is a state subject . Even in Ayushman Bharat I would say the success was only 40 percent, with 60 to 70 rural population they should be integrated with EHR. Confidentiality of data should be built in the system with proper check and controls. The health record embedded should be a user -friendly and dynamic one for the patients so they canspare from the re-tests and emergencies.

Mentioning that the NDHM will ease the doctors and patients pan India, Lal said, ” The most important challenge is how to take tier I and II and III cities. Government insurance must accept the ebills, as of now it is very manual.”

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