The answer is SMAC, without a doubt!
It is already a large part of healthcare services providers in the US, the HIMSS Cloud Analytics Survey finds that 83% of American Healthcare providers use some form of cloud computing today for very obvious reasons- cost efficiency compare d to current infrastructure, speed of deployment and savings on skilled resources or staff. Mostly used for administrative or data functions like administrative, financial, operational, HR and back office applications and data, and sometimes even IT functions and clinical applications and data.
Speaking on the technologies that can add value to healthcare, AbhraneelSarkar, Healthcare and Life-Sciences Industry Leader – IBM GBS Global Delivery India says, “In today’s world, technology is integral to doing business in every industry; and healthcare is no exception. IC technology has the potential to play a pivotal role in almost every aspect of healthcare. Some areas include EMR / EHR, medical imaging, diagnostics results, care management, remote consultation, remote monitoring, tele-health, wearables, health plans management, claims processing, drug discovery, clinical trials, adverse event reporting, e-detailing / video detailing etc.
Of course, the potential in the industry has also attracted a number of startups in the sector. Shashank ND, the CEO of Practo, was one of the few people to think about using this emerging new trend as a business objective. Today Practo is search is Asia’s top rated doctor search engine that helps over 1.5M users book 150,000 appointments by searching through 120,000 verified doctors every month. “Practo was one of the first startups to come on board, there are a large number of problems younger companies can solve, they are the best bet for bringing in innovation. This is the trend we are seeing in the US, and now that is coming to India as well,”saysShashank.
Start-ups definitely play a key role in driving innovation in the Healthcare industry too. “Funding for healthcare start-ups has increased steadily over the last few years with a variety of players joining in. Venture capital firms, large life-sciences, medical devices and payers are investing significantly in start-ups. Several start-ups are focusing on research and work in collaboration with universities, governments and pharma organizations,” says Abhraneel. “Many technology start-ups in healthcare leverage advancements in Mobile, Analytics and Social technologies and work in areas like medical devices and equipment, wearables, care management, patient adherence, healthcare billing, clinical trials optimization, drug discovery, biotechnology etc.”
Puneet agrees that start-ups are already playing a very significant role in making the industry more organized. “The main areas where startups are making a difference include online doctor patient consultation, Patient relationship management, appointment management for Doctors, home care service, networked low cost clinics etc. The biggest area where startups will play a significant role will be in designing new business models and technology, to make medical devices and services more affordable for greater outreach and coverage,“ he says.
For all other technologies, basically the support that ICT provides in healthcare industry boils down to Information management. As with other verticals, this is a key part of the business operations of hospitals as well. But, Abhraneel opines that compared to several other industries, Healthcare is still evolving in Information Management. The potential is really huge with the list of areas or “use-cases” would run into several pages, he adds and enlists some simple examples across a few categories .
- Capturing information electronically – is critical to the future of the Healthcare industry. Some areas include Demographics, patient information, prescriptions, medical images, medical history, EMR / EHR, clinical trial data capture etc.
- Storing, processing and exchanging information – Like most other industries, the healthcare industry is also facing the data explosion challenge and technologies (both hardware and software) are evolving to keep pace with this. The proliferation of digital channels (especially internet and mobile) creates a huge opportunity for real-time high-volume data exchange between multiple stakeholders in the healthcare ecosystem to make processes efficient and effective. However, data privacy and security considerations are critical and information systems need to address them.
- Standardizing information – Stakeholders across the healthcare ecosystem are exploring opportunities to standardize the data captured at multiple sources. This will simplify data understanding and facilitate key processes like patient transfer and treatment (across physicians, providers or geographies), laboratory test results, EMR / EHR, claims management, clinical trials, regulatory compliance etc.
- Understanding and Analysing information – The stakeholders are employing advanced Analytics tools (IBM Watson for example) and methodologies to understand and analyse data on patient, prescriber, safety, drug sales, claims etc. to build predictive models that improve both quality and efficiency in health care in areas such as readmissions, adverse events, treatment optimization, early identification of worsening health states, health plans, drug discovery, clinical trials etc.
Information management technologies become even more critical with healthcare becoming increasingly digital, since it is now bound to result in huge data volume. With this exponential increase in data, information management which facilitates discovery of insights is absolutely essential for the success of any digital healthcare platform. Major categories of data that any healthcare information system handles, include information about facilities, providers, diseases, patients, prescriptions, health parameters, lab results, health history etc. “An information system, which would facilitate mining this data to, derive insights about patient condition, aid doctors decide treatment plan, aid policy makers analyze overall health status and decide strategize for public health, help researchers find cures to challenging diseases, provide real-time response mechanism for any emergency, will be of great value,” Puneet points out “SAP is committed to play a significant role in the emerging healthcare information management space through participation in defining and adopting global healthcare data standards and communication protocols, offering high computing technologies like SAP HANA to facilitate Big Data mining and analytics, increasing availability of solutions by building HANA Cloud Platform infrastructure, and much more.”
Partnering with the right brands can be the way forward for some businesses. Says L Ashok of Futurenet Technologies( India) Pvt Ltd, channel partner for IT products in healthcare industry products Information management is going to be key in decision making in Health Care industry. Be it loyalty program or decision on drugs movement or diagnostics this is going to be big. We will be focusing on this holistically. From infrastructure which is our specialization we are moving now to information management by partnering with organizations like ORACLE.”
As far as business goes, outsourcing for IT in healthcare will give India the much needed edge. Agrees Puneet, “With advancements in mobile communication technologies, the physical location of care provider for primary healthcare will increasingly become irrelevant. This will open up huge opportunities for Indian IT companies in healthcare space as this communication would require huge investments in building and managing the support infrastructure and Indian companies have proven their expertise in this area. Big Data mining, Analytics, Mobility, Cloud and Internet of Things will be the technologies will be drive this change.”