Dr Ravi Gaur, COO, Oncquest Labs Limited

The Indian healthcare industry has increased its uptake of information and communications technology (ICT) solutions such as robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and internet of things (IoT) for improving disease diagnostics and healthcare delivery. Going forward, m-health, telemedicine, cloud consulting and big data analytics are set to significantly disrupt the healthcare industry. However, the increase in treatment cost owing to the adoption of high-end technologies remains a key challenge. Dr Ravi Gaur, Chief Operating Officer (COO), Oncquest Labs Limited, talks about the emerging IT trends in the industry, the status of technology adoption and the future outlook…

What are the key ICT trends shaping the Indian healthcare sector? What are the ICT initiatives taken by your organisation?

ICT assists healthcare enterprises in increasing the accessibility of quality care and specialists in economically backward areas, keeping track of patient’s medical records, and anticipating the possible medical errors. Modern healthcare requires real-time and unobstructed flow of data and information to the point of care so as to maintain reliability, quality as well as precision.

Oncquest is one of the largest diagnostic networks in India and is currently providing over 200 technologies to a customer base of more than 700 contracted hospitals and 15,000 clinics. Using multiple IT platforms, we are enabling distant consultations and diagnosis, offering support for precision medicine, and providing accurate diagnosis with faster turnaround time.

What are the key challenges faced while deploying new-age technology solutions? How can they be resolved?

In our country, primary health workers generally have little access to up-to-date information. Further, there is hardly any medium to share their experiences with their peers. While communication systems are developing, there are still many barriers that restrain the successful application of ICT in the health sector. These include connectivity (lack of access), capacity and content issues.

What are the key areas in the Indian healthcare industry where new-age technologies such as AI, ML, IoT and cloud can be deployed?

From early detection of diseases to remote monitoring of patients, new-age technologies like AI, IoT and ML are transforming the medical industry and making it more efficient. The use of data intelligence for diagnosis is improving the patient experience. In addition to this, cloud-based solutions are helping in recording medical history of patients, providing proper healthcare access, facilitating remote monitoring, and driving the optimal use of limited resources.

How do you think deployment of the electronic health record (EHR) system potentially transform the healthcare sector? What are the roadblocks in its implementation?

The deployment of EHR gives access to complete and accurate information, and helps the patient receive better medical treatment. While there are potential benefits, the high implementation cost of EHR is a big roadblock. Further, there is a lack of interoperability between disparate systems, which makes it difficult to get a full picture of a patient’s medical history.

What are the key technology trends to be seen in the healthcare industry over the next few years?

Next-Generation ICT infrastructure should enable real-time data acquisition, and provide adequate database and storage capacity. The ICT infrastructure needs to include wireless access by IP-enabled, handheld digital devices to support mobile professionals and point-of-care operations. The systems, applications and equipment need to be integrated to support the flow of information in parallel to the clinical workflow. Further, ICT software will allow seamlessly integrated clinical care pathways across hospitals and geographies.