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‘Hospitals need to change their approach towards IT’

Niranjan Kumar Ramakrishnan, CIO, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, on the unique challenges and issues healthcare CIOs face. By Pooja Paryani

For the last 15 years Niranjan Kumar Ramakrishnan has been in the trenches working on bringing technology adoption to the healthcare industry, an industry traditionally slow to adapt to change. While other industries have been quick to embrace IT, the Indian healthcare industry has it’s own unique challenges that are holding it back. Niranjan is currently the CIO at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, and has been pushing for innovation at his hospital. For his efforts he was recognised at the Hospitality and Healthcare Honours 2016 – Healthcare segment, where he won an award for EMR and Adaption.

“Whether its IT or the budget, hospitals are facing challenges at both levels,” says Niranjan. “CIOs have to find ways to solve the issues, help hospitals figure out what they want, have the right selection process as well as deployment process. We have to use the hospital’s resources in the best way possible. Guiding them on the value of investment, selecting the right technology to spend money on and bringing in ROI is the CIO’s duty. IT can help deploy the right technology in hospitals to make processes easier and quicker. Like digitising the process from the patient’s entry to exit, providing medical support systems like assistance in accurately interpreting a patient’s health data.”

“In India the healthcare sector is unstructured and biggest challenge is quality. The service quality of healthcare providers is affected due to the huge gap between demand and supply in the market, and it’s increasing day by day. Here are some of the others issues I’ve encountered in hospitals when it comes to IT adoption. ”

1. Inadequate capital
“Whenever there is a new hospital or greenfield hospital, the budget for technology adoption is not really fixed. So the hospitals tend to compromise in terms of quality, which is never a good idea. Technology should also be a priority when setting budgets.”

2. Lack of knowledge about where to invest
“Hospitals are not really aware of where to invest, when to invest and with whom to invest when it comes to technology. As a result, they do not get the desired results. In most of cases I have seen that Indian hospitals are not good buyers when it comes to technology. Ninety per cent of hospitals are still not sure of where to invest and how to recover the investment. But with the growing awareness, that can and should change.”

3. Inability to recover the investment
“If hospitals have the right CIO or a CIO team to guide them, they can get the best results. If CIOs are given a proper budget they can invest in the right technology for efficient results. A CIO is a trained technology professional and will be able to turn problems into solutions to get best results. The hospital won’t regret investing in technology.”

4. Inability to grasp how tech finds solutions
High dependency on technology and more expectations
“Another problem I’ve seen is that if hospitals have been introduced to technology, they expect their technology team to solve all their problems. Whether it is financial issues, report issues, process issues, people issues or any other, they expect the technology department to come up with a solution, which is not correct. Because technology can be an enabler, it cannot be the complete solution. It ultimately requires people, process, money, time and other material involvements to arrive at that final solution.”

5. Failure to differentiate between wants and needs
“Most of hospitals are not sure about they really need and want in terms of IT. Hospitals sometimes demand what they want and fail to understand what they actually need. Educating them about this difference is important and it has become a challenge. Getting the right resources for the right responsibilities is difficult and hospitals sometimes compromise due to the cost, but do not understand the importance of it. In hospitals, a domain expert is a must so as to get the right direction for various business areas.” 

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