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Consumerization Of IT In Healthcare

by Rajesh Batra, Vice President - IT, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital & Medical Research Institute December-2015

Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital & Medical Research Institute is India’s one of the most advanced tertiary care facilities. As the flagship social initiative of the Reliance Group, the hospital is designed to raise India's global standing as a healthcare hub, with emphasis on excellence in clinical services, diagnostic facilities and research.

In the growing world of technology advances, the role of IT can be noticed in every aspect of Industrial as well as our personal lives.  IT plays a crucial role not only in industries such as manufacturing and finance, but in the healthcare industry as well. The healthcare industry is more malleable than any other industries with more and more funds focusing on it.

The environment in a healthcare industry is quite complex. Even though each hospital does follow similar procedures, yet each hospital has their own peculiar method to achieve the same result. For example, every doctor uses their own experience to treat the patient adding a layer to fit their style of operations. Here lies the challenge of having a standard practice across the hospitals. No two hospitals, thus, prefer to have same processes which make implementing solutions difficult, thereby causing tweaks to happen.

Hospitals like any modern enterprise need Information Technology and they are now consuming it as any other industry. They are on the way to becoming huge data warehouses of patient and disease related data. The data is used intelligently to select research candidates for diseases and more. And the need for diagnostic images and others along with meaningful data is growing, as the sun rises every day.

ERPs have become de facto standard for fulfillment of back office activities. Most hospitals are slowly converging to SAP, Oracle or some other depending on the need and requirement to the organization. The biggest thing here is that the hospitals like enterprises need to account for payable and receivables and account for material viz-a-viz pharmacy, surgical and office items to maintenance parts and consumables and purchase various things including pharmacy to medical equipment to office equipment. And the biggest element in a hospital is Human resources which include doctors, nurses, technician, Para medicals and Administrative staff. Hence, HCM, Payroll along with FICO and MM and in some cases Maintenance becomes the modules of choice.

HCM along with Payroll is the backbone to manage the employee base from Performance management to Leaves to attendance management with biometric integration. The employee reimbursements, etc. again needs to be managed, ensuring time bound payments to employees. Payroll is a large ticket item in a hospital as in any other enterprise and needs to be executed on time every month to ensure time bound payout to employees along with Full and Final settlement for employees who decide to separate. Though, I would like to refer it as HRM or Hire to Retire Module.

Like any enterprise FICO along with AR (Accounts Receivable) & AP (Accounts Payable) in a hospital is important to make it an ongoing running organization and manage outstanding to payables. There is no escape from it and needs to be measured to ensure collections and payouts happen on time.

And the last piece, hospitals have huge inventories of pharmacy items which are purchased and consumed through Health Information System (HIS). Materials Management (MM) is integrated with HIS to directly receive consumption information to reduce inventory and recognize revenue. MM not only provides alerts on re-orders but also on items which will expire in the next few months, to enable managements to take action appropriately. It allows AP to work efficiently to get the vendor payouts to happen on time, to enable cash cycles, as in any organization. Hospitals like any enterprise has a need to have their intelligence and dashboards which come from HIS and the remaining from ERP to provide a complete view to the boards.

Again some hospitals, are going to the next step of implementing the Maintenance module to allow hospital equipment and engineering equipment maintenance schedules to be automated and the expenses for maintenance be detailed and improved.

There are yet other companies trying to build HISs on top of ERPs to give a complete end to end solution out of a single box. The path is long and arduous and still has a long way to go.