Mar 12th 2010

Transforming Healthcare with Information Technology

“Transforming health with IT”, a conference of its unique type in the International Healthcare industry held from March 8-10, 2010. Attending any conference is obviously a great opportunity to get aligned with the latest trends, technologies and challenges of the relevant market, but this one was different.

For the first time in Healthcare history, Doctors and IT professionals came together on a common platform to discuss the opportunities and challenges. This made the conference a complete different and revolutionary event. The concern and contribution of each speaker regarding implementation of IT in Healthcare was highly appreciated by the audience. The common focus was not to leverage technology for commercial benefit instead transforms the healthcare services delivery and make sure that quality healthcare services reach across the globe.

Looking at the enormous need of HealthCare providers’ worldwide, technology will play a crucial role in reaching out to people. That implies we require “Data”. So what is needed is Data. Well, everybody speaks about collecting data, but I was really impressed with the statement by Dr. Ashish Joshi (Research Assistant Professor, Dept. of Information Systems, University of Maryland, Maryland, USA) that we don’t need Data, we need information. Until and unless the data is put to use for creating information and analysis, there is no point in just collecting data and more so just for transactional details. The focus should be more on clinical data collection and analysis.

Most of the people are busy making IT products revolving around patient accounting viz. admin, accounts, and HR related data in hospitals. But the real need is of making solutions that capture clinical data relating to medication or treatment. This will provide an opportunity to analyze data from clinical research perspective.
Another major role of IT would be to bridge the gap between people living in remote rural areas and the HealthCare Specialists sitting in Urban Areas. This can be very well addressed via telemedicine. With the technology providing platform for live connectivity and document collaboration, sharing, this usage is poised to see tremendous growth.

After attending this conference I strongly believe that “IT is THE path”, and using this innovative path in HealthCare industry we can maximize the reach and certainly cater to the people who are in NEED. And when people start talking about mHealth, it’s even more encouraging because mobile devices have a deeper penetration as compared to laptops or desktops and connectivity to the remotest location (specifically in India). A rural place where there is no power for hours, no internet connectivity, does this make sense to develop desktop or web based application. The most feasible option is to use mobile for enterprise class applications in healthcare because that’s the only platform which provides connectivity almost throughout India.

Imagine an accident happens in a village where a patient is lying on the road and seeking help. What a village doctor will do? Will he carry his briefcase of medical equipments or his laptop with accessories to connect via internet and webcam etc; obviously his briefcase. Now he has to send information about the patient to a specialist in urban area seeking second opinion, so does he come back to his hospital and take his laptop with him? No, he should be able to take out his phone and send information right then and there to the doctor. Today’s feature and Smartphones are all capable to share any form of information text, picture, and multimedia.

Now imagine the other side. A doctor sitting in a car receives this request. He need to see the photograph to analyze the severity, will he wait till he reaches his office? No, he should be able to take out his phone and read the data right then and there. Imagine the level of information sharing and the speed at which this is happening.

To summarize, IT is an undoubtedly integral part of today’s healthcare system. It is very difficult to imagine quality and timely healthcare services without right use of Technology. Currently we have to work together to overcome the challenges of implementing IT in Healthcare. At last I would like to re-quote what Mrs. Sangeeta Reddy (Executive Director, Apollo Hospital Group, Hyderabad, India) said at the conference and I am very much convinced with it, “Let’s not compete, Lets Collaborate”.

Leave a Reply