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SoftLink International: Automating Cardiac Healthcare And Beyond

by Prakash Kamat, - Founder, Chairman & MD, SoftLink International July-2018

If you plan to build a Heart Care center, will you dare to divest authority for hospital automation and building automation to someone to do from scratch? The answer may be an emphatic 'NO'. But Dr. Samin K Sharma, a renowned interventional cardiologist, Dean of International Clinical Affiliations and Professor of Cardiology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York did shift this obligation on the shoulders of Prakash Kamat and his company SoftLink International. Prakash has earlier supplied healthcare IT and cardiac imaging solutions to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. The successful deliveries of various solutions & easy accomplishment of goals helped Dr. Samin build a trustworthy relationship with SoftLink. The company worked beyond Healthcare IT in terms of automation and provided building automation and building management system as well to Dr. Sharma's Eternal HeartCare Center, Jaipur. 

Such is the level of trust one can confine on SoftLink International – a leading software product company with core focus on hospital automation and medical imaging. Working closely with cardiologists, healthcare institutions and leaders in medical imaging and information technology since its inception in 1997, the company has emerged as a global provider of total cardiovascular imaging and information management solutions. Taking another case into consideration, SoftLink designed a complete solution that involved HIS, Cardiac PACS, and Cardiac Information System for Magnum Heart Institute with a complete freedom to decide on servers, work stations and networking. The solutions equipped the hospital so well that from day one, the hospital was fully automated and when the first patient was registered, it was directly through the software and not file based case papers! 

With Prakash's industry experience of over a decade in product development in the domain of BFSI, telecom, networking, systems programming and customization of operating systems with several Fortune 500 corporations in the India, USA and Europe, SoftLink has been adding feathers to their cap. Today, this 17 year old company enjoys blissful partnerships with leading companies in healthcare and IT including Phillips, Dell, IBM, Intel, Pie Medical Imaging, Barco, Voxar 3D and many more. This helped them further strengthen their position in the market and provide industry's best solutions to equip the healthcare sector to make the earth a better place to live. Today, the company proudly boasts of clients like Mount Sinai Hospital, New York; Apollo Hospital, Chennai; Fortis Escorts Heart Hospital, Delhi; Brach Candy Hospital Mumbai; BALCO Hospital; Bangalore Hospital, Bangalore; Poona Hospital, Pune; Max Devkidevi Hospital among others. 

Accidents too lead to Success Stories …

When Prakash came back to India, he wanted to build something substantial, challenging and with global appeal. While still wondering what to do, Dr. H M Mardikar approached him to automate the cardiac procedures in LTMGH (Sion Hospital) in Mumbai. "This is how SoftLink landed up making software products for cardiology and then into healthcare IT. It was not planned this way, but many entrepreneurs get into business lines by accident, when the opportunities present themselves, and ours was not a very different story" explains Prakash Kamat, Founder, Chairman & Managing Director, SoftLink International. Currently, the company is successfully providing products and solutions in hospital automation – HIS, LIS, material management and asset management systems; Cardiology – Cardiology Information System and Cardiology Imaging Network; Radiology – Radiology Information System, Multi-modality PACS and WEB Viewing Solutions.

SoftLink's first client came out of the blue, but subsequently acquiring new clients became as difficult as breaking the bottom of the iceberg. Way back in 1997, the healthcare industry in India did not know that technology could ease their jobs and improve patient care. The simple question was, 'If we have a good cardiologist on board and advanced cardiac labs & equipments, why do we need to spend lakhs of rupees on automation?' "It was a Herculean task to convince them of the benefits and make them leverage the technology for their own advantage. A lot of education and perseverance was entailed to acquire client base and eventually success came to us," adds Prakash. 

Today, the company has built-up their own software development center and corporate office with over 45 strong minds working on building next generation of products and innovations within the existing products lines. SoftLink builds a new release for each product generation every 2-3 years thus keeping pace with customer expectations as well as technology evolutions. With this product engineering philosophy, the company addresses end-to-end automation, while ensuring cardiology & radiology needs are met at par with any of the global players. 

"A lot of mistakes happen at the source of collecting information, i.e., errors do creep in when people collect data from the machine or paper print outs and then try to enter them on the computer based system" explains Prakash. SoftLink’s major focus has always been to capture the data at the source, where it is being generated, which allows them to first remove human errors and then build efficiency & develop an expertise on the engineering side. As a result, they partnered with Philips Medical System as an OEM partner in 2000 where they started to build cardiac work stations for their cardiac labs, which was marketed to over 100 hospitals across 9 countries in Asia Pacific region. The success of the product took them to yet another level of building their products – cardiac imaging networks/ PACS. 

SoftLink makes continuous reinvention of their business models and their strategy dynamic. Initially, they came up with their own products but later started bundling those products as OEM products with equipment manufacturers. Subsequent to Philips, the company started working with Siemens, GE, Shimadzu and even bundled their solutions with Toshiba. These partnerships gave a booster for revenue growth and have expanded SoftLink’s customer base rapidly. Today, the company has deployed their solutions in more than 225 hospitals in over 14 countries including India, Malaysia, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Pakistan, Iran and USA. SoftLink has even done outsourced product development for big companies like Bayer Healthcare and Endo Pharmaceuticals and have worked with all the major hospital groups including Apollo Hospitals, Fortis HealthCare, Max Healthcare et al. 

The Blissful Future

The bootstrapped company’s ability to invest capital in international operations has been limited after they built their own corporate office and development center for a million dollars in 2004. Today, the company has grown to a level, where it has all the building blocks including products, people, core strengths, knowledge of the market and a high quality infrastructure, which can be leveraged with global players. The company has garnered financial muscles of their own as they look forward to scale up and acquire new customers, wherever there is a need for their products but in near term major focus would be on the US market. 

Having offices in various cities including New York, Pondicherry, Delhi and Jaipur, this Pune based company is looking forward to build an international sales team and expand to multiple geographies.