Bhoopendra Solanki

CIO – It’s not WHAT I am. It’s WHO I am

Human touch, human intuition, and human-centricity are some vitals that this CIO checks when he considers a new technology for this hospital.

‘The Right Hand for Humans, But Not Elbowing Them Out – That’s Technology’ – you get this line well, once you hear what, and how, this passionate CIO does with technology at a world-class hospital. Much before the pandemic struck, this CIO was already working on virtual consultations and touchless interfaces. And when the pandemic struck, he added elements that were distinct and human-savvy while other organizations were still catching up on the digital groundwork. As he aims for self-care, smart-care, and many future-forward ideas now, Bhoopendra Solanki, Chief Information Officer, Sakra World Hospital, also possesses impressive clarity about why AI, wearables, and Cloud are still not the magical protein shakes they look like. He truly incarnates the word ‘CIO’ with the depth, honesty, clarity, courage, and foresight he brings to his role. Let’s take a candid view of what technology can do, and what it should not

Virtual OPD in 2019! How did you have that long-sightedness and what made you embrace touch-less models early on? And is your process-mapping emphasis a key part of your style?

I joined in June 2019 and I decided to stabilize IT first – servers, processes and tasks. In February 2019, we started to work on Virtual Consultations for follow-up areas. Then we thought that we need to get in the rhythm of today’s thumb-press world of e-commerce and apps that most people have gotten used to. We planned for empowering user control in services without compromising clinical care. We enabled HIS and put UHID in user’s control – that paved the way for online payments, E-POS, QR-code etc. Much before Covid we had begun giving quick lab reports on emails, and worked on E-Portals and other digital enhancements for both care-providers and patients. In the Covid period, we enabled home-collection of RTPCR, launched the mobile app in March 22, and made a lot of services touch-less and fluid. Our vision of the journey is about ‘self-help’. We want to empower the patient as much as we can.

We enabled HIS and put UHID in user’s control – that paved the way for online payments, E-POS, QR-code etc. Much before Covid we had begun giving quick lab reports on emails, and worked on E-Portals and other digital enhancements for both care-providers and patients.

Was technology particularly helpful during those two challenging years?

One interesting thing we observed is that signing consent forms has a psychological aspect – it induces fear and delay. So we enabled it to an online mode during the Covid phase. And we made it sharp and safe with OTP and e-consent. Technology became quite useful here. Another instance is when the second wave hit India. There was an overwhelming spike in patients. It was not pragmatic to accommodate everyone – given our capacity constraints. So we developed a new application within ten days. It allowed patients to feed in their data and symptoms which, then, became visible on a single console to doctors. A doctor could easily decide the priority of patients and admit patients based on the criticality of their condition. We went live in ten days. This was a game-changer and a big filter for doctors who were struggling with too much pressure at that time.

What did you add next and where is the direction of technology moving?

We are trying to put patient and clinical areas on a single platform. The idea is to make the entire journey -from registration to post-treatment- a fluid and frictionless one. There should be no need to stand in queues. With touchless check-in, kiosks, billing, and other digitalized processes – we are trying to completely automate the entire journey. We are trying to minimize siloes and put them on a single data lake with API integration.

Do you think wearables and e-skin can become mainstream soon as they are evolving well?

Real-time data is good but not all Doctors would be very comfortable with anytime notifications. They may not want to be available 24/7 unless it’s a critical condition.

With the recent ransomware incident in India, what new insight have we become cognizant of? You have spoken something interesting about air-gapping.

Security in healthcare is definitely not strong. As most services get exposed, the probability of attack also increases. A separate department for security helps. The idea should be to close the door gap as much as we can. We know we cannot close the door completely but we can deter the bad guy with better security.

Is that why you have an on-premise strategy?

The data size and compliance factors are also a reason here. In industries like BFSI and healthcare, data sensitivity is on the higher side. No matter how much assurance a Cloud provider gives, core areas cannot be completely on Cloud. We have a hybrid approach here.

Have privacy concerns become more complex after the US Roe vs. Wade scenario?

There is a difference between clinical data and demographic data. This becomes critical when the country moves on a single interoperable platform where data can easily flow from one entity to another. Government should work on strong guidelines for data privacy – like more clarity on EMR data retention time.

Every CIO is working on a digital journey. Now IT is an imperative. Before the pandemic CIOs were pushing management towards technology. The scenario is opposite now. Now management is asking a CIO for solutions. This change is going to accelerate digital transformation.

How ready are we for standardized data exchanges?

A uniform platform for the healthcare industry is a good idea as every hospital and entity is working in a silo. Interoperability would be a good step.

How do you define SLAs? Are they different from other industries?

In our context, SLAs are directly related to costs and the criticality of business service. Being 24/7 on is quite critical for our processes.

Have you been able to cross the cost-center to revenue-center cliff of IT?

Yes. And our management is very supportive and cognizant about IT. We have recently presented a dashboard to management – showing how a lot of cancellations (that would happen earlier) have now been fixed with fluid, and digital, patient interfaces. We have also demonstrated results with home-care.

What’s exciting this year?

We are bringing gynecology services under a simple complete journey app where a person can feed even a small change like cough, dizziness, or a baby-kick in the app easily, in a real-time way. This helps the Doctor to give better care, and advice, with nothing missing from the radar. This also ties into next-visit reminders, medicine administration etc. – and we are about to make this app live. We are also working on a dialysis tracker in the same vein. Omni-channel platforms and chatbots are also in progress. We are also working on rolling out smart-care in 2023, the pilot of which is completed. The partner here has developed the solution as per our inputs. This is what will lead us to create an experience where there is a 24-hour display beside each bed – right from nurse visits, doctor’s visit, and service requests to vitals. It will also entail voice assistance. Doctors would be able to pull out data and give prescriptions based on facial recognition. Currently, there is more time spent by care-providers on pen and paper and less on patient care. We want to flip that.

Anything you can say to fellow CIOs?

Every CIO is working on a digital journey. Now IT is an imperative. Before the pandemic CIOs were pushing management towards technology. The scenario is opposite now. Now management is asking a CIO for solutions. This change is going to accelerate digital transformation.

How important is psychology for technology?

Very important. When we were bringing in touchless apps during Covid, we got this feedback sometimes that patients miss the doctor’s touch during diagnosis. Even with Covid patients, it was interesting to see that mentally-strong patients or patients with less stress (like at old age or in home care) were showing better survival rates. Robots are great for precision but the magic of human touch and emotions cannot go away. Not at least in the next ten years I see.Bhoopendra Solanki

Chief Information Officer, Sakra World Hospital

By Pratima H

pratimah@cybermedia.co.in

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