The perception about IT in hospitals is undergoing a paradigm shift. Earlier, much of the IT deployment was focused on improving the billing and patient registration procedures. Now with differential service levels and facilities being made available to patients by various hospitals, IT is seen to be the key link that has the potential to integrate the entire healthcare system and improve processes, efficiency and overall experience of patient care cycle.
This dependency of the healthcare sector on IT has turned into a lucrative business opportunity for the IT companies. Globally, the IT expenditure in the healthcare sector is estimated at about $75 billion. Significant investments in hospital management information system (HMIS) are in the pipeline.
In India too, it is poised to grow to $30 billion by 2010, informs Rajendra Ranganathan, head of provider practices at Wipro Technologies.
HMIS is primarily a workflow solution that helps a hospital to assimilate and aggregate information related to patient's care cycle across various departments and decision makers to cut down waiting times and errors in reporting. From hospitals' perspective, they can utilise their critical resources at a higher level. No wonder, HMIS will be in the growth phase for the next 10-12 years, says Ajay Sharma, CEO and co-founder of Srishti Software.
If trends emanating from the healthcare sector are an indication, there is a huge shortage of bed capacity in the country. This is expected to spur the growth of several hospitals to meet the demand. If one were to look at the private healthcare IT spending, it is worth mentioning that a good number of hospitals in India are embarking on their tech journey with their first round of computerisation. In short, they consider computerisation of the hospital set up as part of the essential infrastructure. Needless to say, this means more IT spending from government-owned as well as private hospitals.
In addition, healthcare tourism in the country is poised to grow from the present level of $300 million to $2.2 billion by 2012. This would call for higher bed capacity, ultra-modern care centres and availability of patient data remotely. Hence, all these parameters call for a strong impetus towards the deployment of advanced IT solutions in the hospital premises.
Even now, some of the hospitals have seen a significant uptake in their efficiency levels by computerising at various levelsÂ—maintaining the patient's history, building IT infrastructure, HR solutions, administrative tasks, ICU, operation theatres and various other tasks like X-ray, sonography, ultrasound, etc. KR Sundaam, CIO, KG Hospital says, "We are focusing on the front officeÂ—registration, billing, labs, insurance, dietary and pharmacy. Business operations of the hospitals are more dependent on the IT. We are now getting into the clinical systems especially the PACS (picture archiving and communication system)." Globally, the market for HMIS including PACS is estimated around $11 billion.
Typically, a hospital's main requirements with IT begin with revving up the administrative tasks. These are followed by clinical functions like ICU and dieticians. Then comes the task of deploying IT solutions for revenue management like finance, investment, etc. Nevertheless, the deployment of an integrated hospital management system is a prerequisite to improve the overall efficiency, says Vamsi Chandra Kasivajjala, executive-director (healthcare), Sobha Renaissance Information Technology (SRIT).
An increasing number of hospitals are also loosening their purses to spend on clinical support system. The idea is to capture significant clinical outsourcing work that is coming to Indian shores by way of various pharmaceutical majors.
Analysts inform that even today, some of the major hospitals across India have islands of information that cannot be interconnected, resulting in manual transportation of data, thereby diluting efficacy of automation. It will be another 5-7 years before Indian healthcare sector starts seeing hospitals that are well equipped and well connected in terms of accessibility and availability of information on demand.
At present, there is an equivocal demand for solutions to computerise the clinical operations of the hospital. In the next four to five years, there will be a robust demand for ERP systems and IT solutions for inventories, procurement and electronic medical records, informs Kasivajjala. In a nutshell, healthcare is one of the fastest growing industries in India with heavy investments.
Going forward, the patient delivery system and enhancement of the patient care system, good hospital management information system, lab integration, business and clinical optimisation are some areas which are poised to grow rapidly.
6 months ago