Lakshman Sharma, Chief Information Officer, Asian Institute of Medical Sciences

The Indian healthcare sector has so far had a conservative approach towards adopting IT and telecom solutions. However, of late, it has increased its uptake of information and communications technology (ICT), realising its potential in delivering better healthcare. Going forward, m-health, telemedicine and the increased adoption of big data will help in extending healthcare services to remote pockets of the country. Senior executives of enterprises operating in this space talk about the emerging IT trends in healthcare, the status of technology adoption and the future outlook…

What role do ICT solutions play in the healthcare industry? What are some of the ICT initiatives undertaken by your organisation?

ICT is playing a major role in patient self-care and education, communication bet­ween patients and providers, electronic data storage and data sharing. The Asian Institute of Medical Sciences provides patient self-care by making their investigation reports available on our portal and updating them about doctor appointments through e-mails and SMSs. Further, we have launched a mobile app for seamless interaction between patients and the hospital. There are solutions for centralised storing of radiology images from multiple locations for timely and accurate treatment, and lodging a direct claim with the third-party administrator for faster claim approval to reduce discharge time. We are also in the process of implementing electronic medical records.

How are the telemedicine and m-health segm­ents expected to evolve in the Indian market?

The use of telemedicine and mobile apps is gaining traction. The Asian Institute of Medical Sciences has implemented tele­medicine services in various locations like Dhanbad (Jharkhand), Moradabad and Sambhal (Uttar Pradesh), as well as various other remote locations. Further, we have a mobile app platform that is used for scheduling doctor appointments, and providing patient investigation and radiology reports.

What is the scope of big data analytics, cloud and IoT in the healthcare industry?

There is a huge need for big data in healthcare in order to maintain electronic health records (EHR), which include medical history, laboratory test results and demographics that are shared via a secured information system. In this way, doctors can provide more accurate treatment based on the information received from various data points of a patient. Another application can be attributed to real-time alerts. For instance, if a patient’s blood investigation parameter value shows an alarming increase, the system will send an alert in real time to the doctor. The Asian Institute of Medical Sciences is using the real-time critical value alert system. The healthcare industry is adopting IoT at a fast pace as integrating IoT features into medical devices improves the quality and effectiveness of service.

What are the key IT and telecom-related challenges faced by healthcare enterprises? How can these be resolved?

Hospitals need to be accessible all the time. So, a healthcare organisation’s inventory is filled with complexities. Often, this results in the inability to track provisioning activities effectively, leading to lots of paperwork, the constant risk of over-payments, and the ever-present threat of downtime.

“There is a major need for big data in the healthcare space.” Lakshman Sharma