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Healthcare Sector: Getting More With Use Of Information Technology

by Sumit Singh, CIO, Wockhardt Hospitals December-2015

Founded in 1973, Wockhardt is India's fifth largest Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Company present in western India and 20 countries across the globe. As a leading health service provider, Wockhardt fulfils the need of the community in its chosen field of super specialty like Cardiology, Orthopaedics, Neurology, Gastroenterology, Urology, Aesthetics and Minimal Access Surgery.


The delivery of healthcare services has gone through a paradigm shift in the past couple of decades in our country. Private players have entered the space and brought new ways to achieve higher quality of care and excellence. Regulatory and standard agencies have also contributed heavily to the baseline and benchmarked standards such that quality and outcome can be assured. With growing awareness and expectations, healthcare organizations are looking hard to meet the standards and standout in the crowd. Information Technology has thus come to the fore in this endeavour.

The past decade or so has also seen Consumerization of Technology. What does it mean? Technology is no more confined to limited places of business or exceptional use cases but has come to play a larger role in the life of a common man. A lot of technology innovations and their convergence, such as smartphones, have led to an explosive growth in the mobility space which has led to the creation of more data and the need to store and make sense out of it. This has directed to a new line of business namely Cloud Computing, wherein majority of data is parked in far off data centre harnessed by the power of connectivity. This data turns out to be a mine field of information if one can get to it and make sense out of it. That has brought about Big Data and Analytics. These four – Mobility, Cloud Computing, Big Data and Analytics along with wireless technology are some of the new paths to drive innovation and efficiency for enterprises. Healthcare sector is naturally looking into this area with great interest and vigour. 

Quite some time ago came the home glucose monitoring kit or the glucometer. It empowered patients to check their condition at home and take appropriate steps. Self-monitoring, implants, and wearable devices being the new reality, data derived needs transformation into actionable information that a physician or a healthcare provider needs and can use. Here lies a gap and an opportunity.

Likewise, currently, one needs to carry paper based reports along with scans that may or may not be complete while visiting a healthcare provider. Over time, things often get lost or misplaced. What if all our ancient texts and knowledge can fit on a thumb nail size device, does one need to witness or be part of the bag carrying ritual and exercise? This can be solved if the patient is provided with an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) or Electronic Health Record (EHR). Unfortunately, we are not there yet owing to its complexity. A person’s health records originate from various sources and it is required to be viewed or accessed by a large group. Experts from various groups along with the regulatory authorities would have to work together to form standards that the Information Technology could enable and weave a solution for it. This will be a great boon not only for patients but many more.

With digitalization of patient records, firstly the data could be analysed to extract new insights into disease patterns and predictions. Additionally, environmental, demographic, ethnic, regional and genetic influences and causes can be studied for their effects with a larger data set. Efficacy of drugs and treatments as well as comparative studies would be easier. Precursors could be identified more easily and those with risks and predisposed to some condition could be advised ahead accordingly. Likewise, outbreak of diseases could also be predicted with more certainty from Big Data.

Healthcare institutions are striving hard to provide the best outcome for the patient – both clinical and financial with the use of Information Technology. A lot of IT based automation has been adopted and more is being developed such that all interventions result in evidences based with quality. The delivery of care has transformed tremendously with IT based systems and turnaround times being constantly reduced so that patients are made comfortable as quick as possible. Analytics has a big role to play in extracting new insights to make the backroom operations as efficient as possible and extract maximum benefits.

Information Technology has been evolving and continuously providing new ways to improve upon. Mobility coupled with wireless, Cloud Computing, Big Data and Analytics are some of the talked about areas now. Likewise, computing power, hardware and infrastructure improvements to deliver more for the same buck are providing many cost effective and efficient solutions. Healthcare players are, therefore, keenly adopting them for their own good and everyone involved.