“IT is evolving faster in healthcare than in any other area”

Rajesh Batra, Vice President – IT, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, on how technology is changing the doctor-patient relationship.

With over 26 years in the IT space, Rajesh Batra has seen up close the transformation in technology and they way it has rapidly scaled in the last few years. He has been in the healthcare vertical since 2008 and has been strategic in harnessing the power of technology for patients as well as healthcare providers. For his initiatives he was recently awarded at the Hospitality and Healthcare Honours 2016 – Healthcare segment for achievements in Digital Innovation in Hospital. Here, he tells us more about how IT is transforming the healthcare industry.

Tell us a bit about your role.
“My role like is like any other CIO but with lot more complexity. The role gets complex as the hospital systems integrate pathology analysers, radiology devices and PACS too bedsides monitors. And it is a constant flow of patient data that is flowing from multiple sources. The systems need to support medical practitioners and caregivers 24×7. The data provides an insight on patient progress to medical practitioners, allowing them to take decisions on the medications and treatment. Having said that, we still need to run the traditional systems of ERP and SAP in my case. Hence, HCM, FICO and MM are an integral part of the IT functional layout. And the system becomes more complicated here, as SAP and HIS, aka Healthcare Information System, has to be tightly integrated on a real-time basis. That allows data for consumption in MM and AR/ AP to flow bidirectional.”

What responsibilities/challenges are unique to a healthcare CIO?
“When I started as CIO in Medanta in 2008, I was told by my friends that I was getting into a sunshine industry. I was sceptical as I was leaving a job at the world’s largest software company, just to do something different and make a change. When I stepped into the role, I saw a huge opportunity to make a difference. What I saw were billing systems rather than workflow-based integrated systems that captured complete patient lifecycle data. Hence, I started the journey to make more data available to the care provider and integrate all data collection points; thereby making comprehensive data view available along with data collection. In 2011, when I moved to my current role at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, healthcare IT was evolving faster as there were more people like me who wanted an integrated workflow-based system and thereby evolving systems. It has been a great journey in healthcare IT till now, whereby IT and the processes are seen as a strategy rather than a catalyst, making the role an important part of the wheel.”

How has IT changed the doctor-patient-hospital relationship in the last few years?
“IT in the healthcare verticals is evolving faster than any other area except maybe banking. It is one of the bright spots for innovation in IT currently, with thrust coming from established OEMs and more. In the startup space as well there is more focus on well being and fitness. I have had visits from global OEMs, including pharma companies, asking to be made part of the journey. And with IoT evolving, we are in for another change in the making. Today’s healthcare practitioners are making decisions based on data and IT has become the partner to provide that data. With more research happening in healthcare, IT is the partner of choice from selection of research candidates to capturing the parameters for research. Today’s patient is more aware of health and health issues, making healthcare providers more data driven; and IT is the best source for patient data and provides the practitioner a single window, comprehensive view of all the parameters. Today, having spent more than eight years in healthcare IT, I can put my hand to heart and measure success with more information going to the patient leading to more smiles.”

How has digital transformation affected the healthcare vertical?
“Healthcare is a vertical that is growing and has more data points with the exception of BFSI. This data has relevance for today and more for tomorrow. The digital transformation is looking at this data with a lens, which was missing till a few years ago. The data collected is now churning more research on diseases and the correlation with the environment. This data helps identify candidates for research and capture the effect of research and development of molecules. Healthcare is growing and IT is working to make the growth happen.”

Tell us about the digital innovation(s) you’ve kick-started at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital (KDAH).
“KDAH is a modern and technology focussed hospital. We have changed HIS about four years ago and integrated with SAP. This gives a complete integrated workflow to medical practitioners and staff. It provides a complete overview of the patient progress. Medical practitioners have more time with the patients on the bedside and are able to bring about more smiles. Health is an area that unsettles patients and their families, so when the medical practitioner spends more time with them it reassures them. Today we have reports, etc available through our portal with analytics of past history, giving a complete overview to patients in a single view. This allows patients to track their progress and ease anxiety.”

How big a role does analytics play in healthcare?
“Big data is an area that is starting to play a big role in healthcare. We have embraced this journey as well. We have put in place analytics for antibiotic and antimicrobial stewardship, besides that we are using data to improve hospital processes and the patient experience. It is an area that is getting more focus and will grow in the coming years. This is also the area of focus for me to grow and we have just deployed an analytic tool and it is getting adopted, slowly but steadily.”

Are there any new IT trends you see being embraced more fully in the healthcare vertical over the next year or so?
“The modern hospital of the future will be a place where IT will play a bigger role. Things like IoT and remote patient monitoring will be prime drivers along with health analytics telling medical practitioners more about their patients. This could include ambulatory visits in case of an emergency, to getting medicines delivered, and a whole lot more. The future is not for us to see and we might live to see a complete change in how data is used. 

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