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Issue of November 2004 
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CRM for life

When IT touches the heart

What puts Wockhardt Hospital and Heart Institute (WHHI) a step ahead of other hospitals? For one, it's the hospital's eICU, which monitors the patient's progress 24x7, and second is WHHI's CRM solution, which helps to reach the right doctor at the right time. by Deepali Gupta

When you aim to build a world class hospital, you need world-class processes in place. Keeping this goal in mind and to give patients better value for their money, WHHI was looking for a solution that would allow the hospital to manage its patient and staff details' database efficiently. It also needed to connect specialists to the hospital network such that the doctors could monitor the patient remotely.

The WHHI IT team, which consists of four people, found that the most suitable solution was to put in place two inter-linked systems. The foursome considered a CRM solution custom-made to the hospital's needs and a network linking that they termed eICU. This system connected the patients' monitors to an RAS accessible over the internet.

The CRM system WHHI put into place not only helps identify the right doctor for the right occasion, it now also generates reports. Plus it can sort categories of patients such that the hospital has now been able to start clubs of people with similar experiences.

The beginning

To develop and maintain a special relationship with doctors, patients, and corporates, WHHI required an easily manageable system that would catalog all the required details. Moreover, with the narrowing difference in service level at hotels and hospitals internationally, Vishal Bali, Vice President Operations, WHHI, believed that such implementations are required to create an ambiance of efficiency. The implementation was also required to track feedback to generate a patient satisfaction index.

The solution

To meet these requirements, the hospital approached an outfit called Think Ahead, which conceived, developed and implemented a CRM application to specifically meet the demands of WHHI. The implementation generates feedback reports, occupancy reports, average length of stay, waiting and discharge reports. While all these reports were being filed even earlier, the solution has helped maintain and update all the reports on a daily basis, obviating any chance of delay. The accuracy rate of the reports has seen a new high as a result.

More importantly the CRM solution has automated relationship management. It has resulted in the creation of the Happy Hearts' Club, a group of people who have undergone similar heart surgeries at WHHI. At the forum, patients share their experience and sometimes also learn from each other.

The CRM solution also automatically forwards newsletters and relevant information to keep in touch with doctors and patients. Bali explained the importance of this routine task: "Hospitalization should not be seen as an episode but as a patient hospital relation, it is not a one time transaction." And the CRM solution has helped with just that.

e-Hospital

Besides the CRM system, WHHI has developed an eICU. The eICU consists of ICU monitors on the side of the bed. These are connected to a Windows 2000 Server that is linked to Remote Access Servers (RASs). The RASs can be accessed over the internet via a 2 MBPS line.

The eICU allows doctors to consult specialists in life and death situations. A resident doctor can consult a senior consultant while at the operation table and the CRM solution helps retrieve the most suited consultant for a given case. This way all decisions can be collaborative. Furthermore, in case of a smaller problem the doctor is not required to rush to the hospital. The remote system also means that every patient has 24X7 coverage from his/her doctor.

e-Visit

WHHI's association with Think Ahead led to other creative initiatives. The first is the Virtual Family Visit. Relatives and friends can visit any patient online in a virtual patient room. The system is capable of transferring audio, video, text, and images.

Similarly, WHHI was also able to initiate a tele-medicine program. These are video links established at medical colleges in the relatively less developed parts of India. The doctors at WHHI use this link to address classes in these colleges as well as to make routine follow-ups on chronic patients.

Security issues

With so much data available over the internet it is natural that information security would be a concern. To secure its network, the WHHI IT team has set up a hardware and software firewall. The hardware blocks unauthorized access and the software firewall acts as an active state packet filtering firewall. The Total Internet Security Suite scans inbound and outbound network traffic.

Cost factor

Overall, the implementation cost WHHI close to Rs 2 million, according to Bali. Perhaps, the level of automation and improved efficiency due to this system could be used to establish the system's ROI. However, Bali does not look at it from a profit perspective, but rather as a 'Staying in Business' investment. According to him, as the standards for hospitals improve the world over, Wockhardt must set a standard in India.

Deepali Gupta can be reached at: deepali@networkmagazineindia.com

Highlights of the network that supports and sustains the CRM and eICU at Wockhardt

1. Open standard TCP/IP network.
2. Highly scalable and flexible.
3. Gigabit Optic Fibre backbone.
4. 100 Mbps network.
5. Redundant uplinks for minimum downtime.
6. Modular network approach.
7. ISDN for data transfer and videoconferencing.
8. PSTN for Remote Access from doctor's end.

<In a nutshell>

The company

Wockhardt Hospital and Heart Institute (WHHI) is a relatively new hospital, with close to 60 admissions per day. It already caters to over 45,000 patients who have been treated there. 30 percent of Wockhardt's patients belong to the less developed interiors of India.

The need

To provide continuous and non-modular healthcare WHHI required a solution to manage its patient and staff details' database, and make the life support monitors of the ICU remotely accessible.

The solution

WHHI deployed a custom-made CRM solution by Think Ahead and set up an eICU, which connected the patient monitors to an RAS.

The advantage

The CRM helps circulate newsletters, keep contact with patients and doctors and generate accurate reports. The eICU gives patients 24X7 coverage from their personal doctor as well as other specialists.

 
     
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