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Digital transformation enables healthcare providers to deliver better patient care: Atul Soneja, CitiusTech

Digital transformation enables healthcare providers to deliver better patient care: Atul Soneja, CitiusTech

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Pradeep Chakraborty
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CitiusTech is a leading provider of consulting and digital technology to healthcare and life sciences companies. It is strategic partners to the world’s leading payer, provider, MedTech and life sciences companies to drive innovation, business transformation and industry-wide convergence.

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Atul Soneja, Chief Operating Officer at CitiusTech, tells us more. Excerpts from an interview:

DQ: Why is healthcare digital transformation the next big thing in technology?

Atul Soneja: We are seeing the digital revolution in healthcare taking massive strides in the last couple of years, with the potential to transform the way healthcare is delivered and managed. Digital transformation in healthcare enables healthcare providers to deliver better patient care, by leveraging technology to track and manage patient data, monitor vital signs remotely, and provide telehealth services.

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With the exponential growth of mobile devices, fitness apps and wearables, healthcare consumers today are moving quickly to digital channels to find doctors, track vitals, seek healthcare information and share clinical details with hospitals. This also gives healthcare organizations the opportunity to build meaningful engagements with patients and consumers, e.g., patient portals, online appointment bookings, telemedicine, remote monitoring, data sharing apps and alert/notification tools.

In terms of revenue, the digital healthcare market in India was valued at INR 252.92 Bn in FY 2021. It is expected to reach INR 882.79 Bn by FY 2027, expanding at a CAGR of 21.36% during the FY 2022 - FY 2027 period . The pace at which digital enablers like fitness apps, wearables, digital payments, online pharmacies, etc. are being adopted, has created a sea of opportunities for Indian healthcare organisations to transform the way care is delivered and managed.

Overall, healthcare digital transformation has the potential to improve the quality, accessibility, and affordability of healthcare services, making it a critical area of focus for technology companies, healthcare providers, and policymakers.

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DQ: What are some of the cutting-edge technologies currently redefining the healthcare sector?

Atul Soneja

Atul Soneja.

Atul Soneja: Emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), Blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT), Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), and Big Data analytics have aided in transforming the digital healthcare market.

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ML has evolved enough to be used to predict an epidemic; it would be able to direct digital healthcare companies to planning their production rates accordingly. Blockchain technology can be used to secure patient data, improve data sharing and interoperability, and streamline administrative processes.

Big data analytics can help reduce the cost of data processing and fast-track clinical trials by examining and determining data points. Innovations in life sciences are accelerated as they break physical barriers to recruiting patients for clinical trials, and in turn ensure representation from diverse patient groups.

Digital is transforming patient as well as healthcare provider (HCP) experiences. Patients receive consumer grade services from healthcare organizations weather or not they receive care, or have purchased a health plan, or are availing of a pharmacy’s customer service. HCPs now possess decision-support that helps them make better clinical decisions and spend quality time with their patients with predictable outcomes.

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At the back of this, is a significant digital powerhouse of cloud, data and analytics, mobility, and AI/ML that organizations like CitiusTech are helping healthcare customers innovate new healthcare delivery models.

I believe, we are just getting started on a healthcare journey and going forward we will see significant contributions of new age technologies like AR/VR to deliver an immersive experience for virtual care, digital therapeutics to deliver preventive care, and hyper personalized therapies powered by In-Silico molecular models as the next generation of digital evolution.

DQ: How is CitiusTech making a meaningful impact through technology in the global healthcare ecosystem? What is its emphasis on employee upskilling and reskilling?

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Atul Soneja: The supply-side of the healthcare or medical ecosystem consists of various stakeholders that include, doctors and nurses, hospitals and other service providers, and payers. However, as digital technologies evolve and become more accessible, the various stakeholders have come to rely on technology service providers like CitiusTech to support their digital transformation journey.

From cutting-edge innovations to working with the customers to reimagine their process of delivering high-quality healthcare, digital technology specialists like us have a vital role to play.

Digital-first technology companies like CitiusTech are helping healthcare companies change their services and delivery models to adapt to new patient and consumer needs. We are helping healthcare and MedTech companies leverage digital technology to accelerate data convergence, enable faster and more accurate diagnosis, improve the patient’s digital experience, and transform complex business processes, e.g., clinical trials, claims management, revenue cycle management, medical imaging, etc.

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As part of ensuring we have the best teams possible to continue to deliver meaningful impact in healthcare, we have made significant enhancements to our overall employee experience - especially given that about 60% of our workforce (4,500 out of 7,500) has been recruited remotely during the pandemic years.

The entire employee engagement strategy has moved to a work-from-home model, including frequent pulse calls and pulse surveys, proactive HR interventions and a strong upskilling / reskilling program called IMPACT that focused on rapid upskilling across new and emerging technologies, extending even to new employees. Our teams continue to value the experience and learning that we provide.

We invest strongly in learning and development, that helps software engineers transition to becoming highly skilled healthcare technology professionals. Our overall focus on learning and development is well ahead of the curve, and we have made strong investments in digitization and AI to help CTzens build custom learning paths that will help them in their professional growth.

DQ: Please give some customer examples of how CitiusTech has helped them to make a big impact in patient's lives?

Atul Soneja: CitiusTech is a trusted partner to large healthcare organizations, and our core capability enables us to bring in end-to-end proficiencies in digital process design, and the convergence of technology and healthcare to drive the digital agenda of our clients. We have helped deliver cloud transformation and modernization solutions to several organizations who are on their digital transformation journey.

To exemplify, we have helped one of the largest physiotherapy organizations to develop a digital delivery model that can help patients through their rehabilitation journey at home or in hybrid model conditions. The solution is not limited to any model but drives deep insights that assists in personalizing patient journeys.

We have also helped another prominent medical device company transform their devices and augment clinical diagnostics in emergency rooms along with clinical decision support. Our solutions have also provided pharma giants with AI/ML model based early detection of neurology conditions.

DQ: What are the challenges that the healthcare sector should address to accelerate digital adoption and innovation?

Atul Soneja: I would qualify the change that needs to happen in three buckets – People, Processes, and Protection.

On the people front, it is critical to drive much-needed change management to transform and future-proof the abilities and skillsets of our workforce. This not only entails a refreshment of training curriculum at the workplace but also an overhaul of the education curriculum for students to reflect the realities of the sector and our nation.

Well-structured processes are critical to the seamless functioning and cross-pollination of innovation and ideas across teams and divisions. Effective data-driven organization-wide strategy and the mainstream adoption of AI/ML in clinical workflows will allow for better and more accurate outcomes, faster decision-making, and intelligent and actionable insights generation within and without the enterprise.

In a future poised to be patient-centric, cybersecurity is the most important part of ensuring the safety and security of information. Cybersecurity threats are one of the biggest challenges faced by healthcare systems at the back of rapid digital transformation efforts. In a survey by Deloitte, cybersecurity was among the top three investment priorities today, and also in the next three years – as it should be.

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