Lack of standardized practices across hospitals is the biggest mobility challenge

As no two hospitals have the same processes it becomes difficult to implement the same mobile solutions, which is a major challenge in implementing mobility solutions in the healthcare industry, says Rajesh Batra, VP-IT, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital. In a conversation with Dataquest, Batra talks about the state of adoption of mobile technology in healthcare and endless opportunities presented by mobility in the Indian healthcare industry. Excerpts

According to you, which business operations in the healthcare industry can benefit from using mobile technology solutions?
Healthcare is a sunshine industry and has come into focus in the recent times. More and more funding is being diverted to it. It is a complex environment yet more malleable than any other industry. Healthcare can actually benefit in a number of areas right from patient appointments to doctors consultation, sending/receiving diagnostic reports, and remote monitoring, etc, with mobile solutions. In fact, using mobility doctors can make reports and notes on patient bedside and get the medication order placed right from there. The possibilities are endless and we are just starting to explore them.
The concept of healthcare mobile solutions has evolved a lot in the recent years. Though many healthcare organizations have mobile strategies in place, those strategies are still in their infancy. How do you see this whole situation?
To understand, we need to go back 20 years and look at the manufacturing industry. At that time, it was disparate and evolving in processes and quality. ERP systems were also evolving for the industry. But today, manufacturing processes and quality have evolved and ERP is considered a standard for the manufacturing industry. Not only that, ERP systems have a localization pack for every country. We are experiencing the same shift in healthcare today. It will be interesting to see how the processes and quality standards evolve in the coming few years.

What do you think are the biggest challenges in implementing mobility solutions in the Indian healthcare industry?
Healthcare is a complex environment. There are a few things that all healthcare setups do such as consultation in OP, diagnostics in pathology, and radiology, to treat the patient with medical therapy or surgically. Yet, each hospital does the same thing in its own peculiar way to achieve the same result and each doctor uses his own experience to treat the patient. Add to that, each hospital has its own style of operation. Therein lies the challenge of having standard practices spread across the hospitals. As no two hospitals have the same processes it becomes difficult to implement the same mobile solutions, causing tweaks to happen.

How do you foresee the adaptability of mobility solutions within Indian healthcare organizations. What is the key area of focus for mobility solutions in the future and why?
Some healthcare organizations have inward focus and some outward. Some organizations allow doctors to view EMRs on their tablets and encrypt the data to protect privacy and dignity. On the other hand, some organizations have an outward focus and believe in giving more to the patient, for instance medicine reminders through apps. Some allow pathology and radiology reports to be downloaded. Then there are companies tying up with telecom providers to be the middleware to integrate devices with hospital systems.

These devices through smartphones monitor patients and send the data to the hospital and alert the doctor of any abnormal value. This is especially focused on elderly homecare and patients with certain cardiac issues. However, the simplest thing which is happening is PACS (Picture Archival and Communication System) aka digital radiology is going mobile in modern digital hospitals. This will allow doctors to view radiology images on their handhelds. In my view, the bigger beneficiaries will be neurologists in cases of emergencies like road accidents to view brain scans and make decisions in split seconds. In simple words, we are living in interesting times and looking at an evolving industry.

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