IT in Healthcare
Healthcare has IT under its skin
IT solutions have improved the quality of healthcare services
and led to a reduction in costs. by Newly Paul
The healthcare sector has been slow in IT adoption, but it is steadily catching
up with other sectors that are using IT to conduct business. In a nation where
there are over 15,000 hospitals and where the healthcare industry stands at
Rs 1,03,000 crore, it is difficult to envision functioning without IT. Be it
administrative areas or patient care, IT has given rise to a revolution and
brought better services for the common man.
In hospitals, IT can be used in the administrative department for patient registration,
billing or inventory management.
SRL Ranbaxy has implemented a customised ERP that includes lab operations, material
management, billing, financial accounting, customer care, sales & marketing,
logistics, clinical trial, instrument interface, and security. Says G Pillai,
IT Head of SRL Ranbaxy, We have implemented an end-to-end IT solution
for all our business processes. Today, SRL is totally dependent on IT.
Similarly, Wockhardt has implemented a Hospital Information System (HIS) with
36 modules that cater to different sectors such as administration, laboratory
functions, communication, financial accounting systems, and clinical data.
Fortis Healthcare has HIS that comprises Picture Archiving
and Communication Systems (PACS), Management Information Systems, and patient
monitors. PACS makes the quality of X-rays better, while the monitoring devices
and Web access enable tele-counselling.
- Updating of medical and para-medical people
- Health education for the masses.
- Healthcare call-centre.
- Health information in vernacular languages.
- Health kiosks with trained para-medics
and digital equipment.
IT Power Pill
HIS has been particularly useful in automating the functions
of all departments so that they become paperless. Since HIS is Web-enabled,
it facilitates two-way communication for patient queries.
IT has made rapid inroads in laboratories too. Laboratory results are stored
using customised software which can be easily maintained and upgraded. IT in
the form of health portals has been instrumental in disseminating health-related
A common challenge faced in implementing IT is related to
the cost of IT projects. Though using IT-enabled services saves time and manpower,
IT software can be expensive. Hence, a hospital needs to employ a solution that
is not only tailored to its needs, but is cost-effective as well. According
to Sunil Kapoor, Head, IT, Fortis, The biggest challenge Fortis faced
was ensuring that the software deployed expanded in proportion to its growing
functions. In addition, the absence of implementation guidelines for the Indian
healthcare industry made automation difficult.
Sugar-coating The Pill
Different methods are adopted by hospitals to overcome challenges
in IT implementation. Since cultural conditioning is a big challenge faced in
IT implementation, employees need to be given adequate training. Government
hospitals such as AIIMS outsource IT implementation and ensure that its employees
get the required training for working in an IT-enabled environment, comments
Dr R S Tyagi, Deputy Director and Head, Computer Facility, AIIMS. On its part,
Wockhardt has resorted to intensive training for proper implementation of the
The annual government expenditure in the healthcare sector is 5.2 percent of
the GDP. It is essential to make IT a strategic partner so that the scale of
operations can be increased. The adoption of IT can indeed be beneficial to
this sector. All that is needed is an open mind and a vision to serve patients