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Issue of May 2006 

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Enterprise-wide applications

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, a CRM solution

When you aim to build a world-class hospital, you need efficient 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 the database of patients and staff efficiently. It also needed to connect specialists to the hospital network so that doctors could monitor the patient remotely.

The WHHI IT team, which consists of eight people, found that the most suitable solution was to put in place two inter-linked systems. The team considered a CRM solution custom-made to the hospital’s needs and a network link that they termed eICU. This system connects patients’ monitors to a Remote Access Server (RAS) accessible over the Internet. The CRM system at WHHI not only helps locate doctors, it 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 catalogue all the required details. Moreover, with the bridging of the difference in service levels at hotels and hospitals internationally, Vishal Bali, Vice-president Operations, WHHI, believed that such implementations are required to incorporate efficiency and improve customer service. The implementation was also required to track feedback so that a patient satisfaction index could be generated.

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 WHHI’s demands. 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: “Hospitalisation should not be seen as an episode but as a continuing patient-hospital relationship, it is not a one time transaction.” And the CRM solution has helped do just that.

In A Nutshell
  • The company: Wockhardt Hospital and Heart Institute (WHHI) admits 85 patients per day on an average. It already caters to over 80,000 patients who have been treated earlier. 30 percent of Wockhardt’s patients belong to the less developed interiors of India.
  • The need: WHHI required a solution to manage details of its patients and staff, 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 a RAS.
  • The advantage: The CRM helps circulate newsletters, communicate with patients and doctors and generate accurate reports. The eICU gives patients 24X7 coverage from their personal doctor as well as other specialists.


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 surgical intensive care unit has also been added to the system. The RASs can be accessed over the Internet via a 2 Mbps line.

The eICU allows doctors to consult specialists in emergency situations. A resident doctor can consult a senior consultant from the operation theatre and the CRM solution helps retrieve the most suitable 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 or her doctor.


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 programme. 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 the chronically ill.

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 unauthorised 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

The implementation cost was 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 patient care improve the world over, Wockhardt will be in step with its customer-centric initiatives.

With updates from Vinita Gupta

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Indian Express - Business Publications Division

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