Lakshman Sharma, Group CIO, AIMS

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. Lakshman Sharma, Group chief executive officer (CIO), AIMS, 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?

Technology has created a new wave of products to improve patient comfort and care. Health clinics are widely using robots that can monitor a patient in the absence of a human provider. IoT devices and AI are playing a major role in the healthcare sector. In addition, there are various forms of smart technology that increase comfort and efficiency, and decrease risks. Smart devices and applications will continue to grow in the healthcare industry. The Asian Institute of Medical Sciences has implemented mobility solutions in many areas such as self outpatient department (OPD) billing, patient management, ward management on mobile, LAB and radiology. The institute is also in the process of implementing AI and ML in the radiology department.

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

Security is a primary concern in healthcare applications since they often deal with confidential and sensitive patient health data. To build a compliant telehealth application, specific encryption algorithms and data security standards should be followed. Any third-party platform used to power a healthcare service needs to be made completely secure, complying with comprehensive data protection, access control and business continuity rules.

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

With the growing use of IoT, various devices and mobile apps have come to play a major role in tracking and preventing chronic illnesses for many patients and their doctors. AI can process information and provide decision-making data in a manner, similar to a human. AI applications can improve the speed and accuracy of the diagnostic process. Nowadays, AI is used in many EMRs as well as in radiology. It helps in making imaging reports to facilitate the decision-making by doctors. In addition, ML algorithms are utilised to safely explore chemical and biological interactions in the drug discovery process, and rapidly introduce new drugs in the market.

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

Out of the many innovations happening across the country, especially in the healthcare system, an EHR can make a big difference in healthcare services delivery.

EHR is a digital medical record of a patient’s health, which contains all the medical information including medical history, progress reports, allergies and imaging reports. It helps hospitals tackle patients in an organised manner. EHR assists in achieving a flawless coordination amongst everyone in the healthcare ecosystem and healthcare process, reduces costs and increases revenue margins.