#RPA in Healthcare: The Path Ahead for Health IT Leaders By Sreejith Madhavan

Historically, healthcare industry has shown a reluctance to invest in technologies that did not come under the purview of diagnostics and treatment, or demanded by insurance payors (such as electronic claims submission). Anything that required cognitive (human) intervention or intuition was kept aside from the technological takeover. The unprecedented growth of life expectancy, the discovery of new drugs and treatments, and the ability of modern medicine to combat chronic ailments and epidemics have spurred the need for technological inclusion in multiple areas of healthcare.

As patients become more digital savvy, caregivers are increasingly implementing technology solutions that enable both parties to perform several activities online such as accessing personal medical information to online scheduling of appointments. Today, healthcare industry is looking at those technologies or combinations of technologies that can optimize their front, middle and back-office operations so that care givers get adequate time to spend on priority tasks.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is one of the key technologies that has gone mainstream in many industries including healthcare. Why health IT leaders should continue to turn their pivot towards RPA? We’re exploring the reasons through this post.

RPA in Healthcare: Common Applications and Benefits

Robotic Process Automation or RPA automates processes that are repetitive and transactional, primarily by imitating human behavior for rule-based tasks.  RPA enables caregivers to focus on high-value activities by enhancing overall administration of healthcare processesIt executes routine tasks at a fraction of time than that’s taken by a human, eliminating the risk of human errors. The scope of RPA in the administrative and clinical functions of healthcare is very vast. 

Technologies such as cloud computing and data virtualization have enabled scalable deployment of RPA software across various units and geographic locations of a healthcare organization. So far, healthcare administrators have leveraged RPA in several areas of their back, middle and front-office operations; few of which are mentioned in the table below:  

Areas of RPA implementation
Benefits to healthcare providers
Back Office

  • Human resource management
  • Finance and supply chain management
  • Streamline onboarding process to improve efficiency
  • Clinicians can impart care without interruption caused by administrative functions
  • Human resource management
  • Ensure new clinical staff gains access to systems and facilities from day 1
Middle Office

  • Revenue cycle management
  • Claim submission and reconciliation
  • Patient scheduling
  • Accelerate revenue cycle by automating coverage eligibility verification process, claims posting, and claim resubmission
  • Insurance data management
Front Office

(relatively untapped by RPA)

  • Care delivery setting
  • Health data utilization and report generation
  • Integration of disparate care management systems to assimilate date efficiently
  • Ensure clinicians spend more time for patient care by minimizing their administrative work
  • Enhance case management

Most of the present day healthcare organizations are using RPA for automating rules-driven and repetitive back office work. The potential RPA can offer healthcare in unison with advanced technologies such as machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) is tremendous. It’s no surprise if we consider Robotic Process Automation a stepping stone to integrating these sophisticated cognitive technologies into healthcare.

What needs to be automated in healthcare?

Here’re a few potential use cases: 

1 Connecting and automating disparate health monitoring devices: The case of neonatal ICU:

A 2017 Business Insider post talks about the need to automate oxygen supply to patients hospitalized with pulmonary hypertension. Currently, the system only alerts the staff (nurse) through a monitor beep when the blood oxygen level of the patient drops and the staff has to attend the case. If the nurse is attending other patients and misses out the alert, the chance for a mishap is more. The article from Thomas Hooven, a Neonatologist in the U.S. suggests how automation of oxygen inflow at the moment of crisis could save patients with chronic pulmonary hypertension.

2 Compliance monitoring and analysis:

Imagine a hospital that processes thousands of claims daily and attends the need of a large number of insurance beneficiaries. RPA can be used to gather and consolidate data from multiple disparate sources or systems that improves the efficiency of regulatory, non-financial, and risk reporting. Automation of compliance monitoring analytics eliminates time-consuming activities involved in the collection, compilation, cleansing and summarization of large amounts of information. Security of medical data and records is a major concern for any healthcare organization. Robotic Process Automation helps protect patient privacy and achieve compliance with HIPAA and other mandatory health regulations by generating custom reports and detailed audit logs.

3 IoT analytics to empower process automation

The goal of any IoT deployment should not be limited to collecting data from multiple sources (devices). It must ensure that the data is actionable in real-time, to support relevant processes. Process automation is recognized as the common endeavor to improve operational efficiency by lowering costs, increasing profits and improving customer satisfaction. Integrating IoT into process automation could deliver greater value across product lines. For instance, consider the claims settlement process in healthcare that is deeply influenced by the data being collected from several devices. During the claims settlement process, if the system could take into account the details of the data aggregated by IoT devices such as lowering a premium based on usage behavior, or a difference in user-provided information, that could lead to process optimization and faster decision-making. IoT analytics in healthcare can avoid the cost of admissions by automating prescriptions, reduce medical error in treatment and improve quality of patient services.

Leveraging RPA with exponential technologies

RPA is just one of the growing technologies that can empower healthcare organizations. Once RPA is integrated successfully into their core business strategies, hospitals should consider incorporating the advanced spectrum of cognitive technologies such as AI and machine learning. Unlike RPA, artificial intelligence has the ability to identify patterns in data. Similarly, machine learning adds more meaning and power to process automation by enabling healthcare organizations to identify payment variance and remediate complex payment methodologies.

The future healthcare environment could look very different from what we see today. Technologies like Robotic Process Automation will have a greater say on employee productivity. Automating routine tasks such as collecting blood samples could help the job of a nurse, reduce task time and eliminate manual errors, while improving the patient experience. As organizations progress from depending on manual tasks to applying RPA and cognitive computing, the workforce also shifts from being “doers” to “reviewers.” Health IT leaders and providers, hence should focus on developing proactive, winning strategies to attain long-term financial sustainability and improved patient experience.

Sreejith Madhavan

Sreejith Madhavan is the Chief Operating Officer of Zerone Consulting Pvt. Ltd., a custom software development company with an exceptional track record of successfully completing over 500 challenging projects for 140 plus satisfied customers globally. Sreejith’s experience includes a demonstrated history of working in the outsourcing/offshoring industry, managing and mentoring multiple teams in the web and mobile development arena

NITI Aayog’s National Health Stack – a Healthy Stack?! by Divya Raj @divyaraj1

Extraordinary problems need extraordinary solutions. And creating a country level IT infrastructure addressing challenges in India’s Healthcare management for its 1.3 billion population definitely falls very well into that category. 

NITI Aayog’s “National Health Stack – Strategy and Approach” document published in July ’18 is a good starting point in the direction of digitizing India’s healthcare management for meeting the challenge of healthcare of India’s masses. It’s a clear reflection of the realization that India’s Healthcare needs a digital infrastructure. The National Health Stack (NHS) is outlined as a “visionary digital framework” with four key components — electronic health registries of health service providers and beneficiaries, a coverage and claims platform, a federated personal health records framework and a national health analytics platform. 

However at the same time there are some gaps and untouched aspects which must be taken care sooner than later to ensure initiatives across the nation start on robust and comprehensive foundations. Ironically, while the document as well clearly recognizes that Ayushman Bharat has a 2 pronged strategy — setting up of 1.5 lakh Wellness Centers in Primary Healthcare and increasing the financial protection for secondary and tertiary care – the Wellness Centers are not at all touched upon in the proposed Digital framework. There can be no two thoughts about the high criticality of the Primary Healthcare system in India’s healthcare. NHS implementations designed with primary focus on insurance claims and coverage will be a lopsided strategy for the scale of efforts involved. In fact, extending this further beyond the Wellness Centers, the NHS must plan to give adequate provisioning for Anganwadi and other grassroots level Health-workers who are working most closely with the masses and form the lowest layer of healthcare services hierarchy which is extremely critical for preventive and primary healthcare. Any digitization initiative leaving these grassroots workers out of purview would be stunted and ineffective. Options must also be explored to address all existing gaps in this is extremely critical layer. 

Coming to the technical aspects of the NHS stack it is important to understand that in our highly democratic and federal setup it may be justified for NITI Aayog to restrict their guidelines only till technical stack level. However leaving the next line of details totally to various public and private stakeholders will likely lead to anarchic and incompatible solution outcomes across the country. It is imperative that NITI Ayog comes up with next level of guidelines and pushes the states and all stakeholders to align to those guidelines. Without going into the modalities of the way it will be done, the rest of this article will focus on some of the key design considerations which must be included by various implementers for ensuring there is basic hygiene and consistency in this National registry of this scale. 

Envisioning National Health Electronic Registry as a national one, as “a single source of truth for and manage master health data of the nation” sounds very ambitious. Rather than letting this happen at the “democratic” pace, this needs to be executed with greater authority, careful planning and a best-in-breed technology platform. At the same time we must also look at the returns on investment for this grand registry or repository – do we really see a significant proportion of patients moving across states for health treatments? 

Instead of trying to build a mammoth data repository a more practical and effective approach may be to maintain the repositories at state-level for now, provisioning the central registry to have only meta-data for querying and pulling information from the state health repositories. 

For unique identification of patients across various systems and networks a standard and uniform mechanism will have to be ensured while giving due regard to all the various Government approved Identity mechanisms and not just Aadhar. This is to ensure that the treatment are not delayed or denied for lack of Aadhar or any other identity mechanism. This needs to be balanced carefully with the need to provide robust mechanism for avoiding any Data duplication or Data redundancy. 

Another extremely important aspect to be looked into is data privacy and data security. Vision of having a centralized registry of health data for 130 billion people entails a huge challenge in terms of ensuring the data is secure, only authorised and appropriate data is accessible to stakeholders and the data cannot be misused by technical or non-technical individuals, agencies, organizations or negative forces. This requires very strong and explicit guidelines to be provided to all the implementers at different levels because any gaps and nuisances with respect to data security and data privacy can have cascading effect and has tremendous detrimental potentials on this mega initiative. 

The envisioned health registry will be the central registry for all Health establishments, professionals, patients, health workers, medical personnel and other stakeholders. And it will be closely integrated with the Health data repository which should have all the data or meta-data for all patients, their visits to all different health-establishments, diagnosis, scans, test-reports and treatments. Considering the scales, volumes and complexities it is obvious that a digital platform connecting all these cannot afford to be based on any manual data updates without any data-duplication. All the different applications will have to be integrated in a seamless manner and in real-time basis using open APIs. Hence all participating applications need to be mandated to expose APIs in a standard way. API formats and protocols need to be laid out clearly rather than leaving it to participating organizations and stakeholders. 

NITI Aayog deserves a pat on the back for envisioning the National Health Stack which will push the digitization initiative in India’s Healthcare in a big way, paving the way for numerous healthcare benefits to the masses including the financial protection and also other benefits including policy making, governance, research and so on. In doing this NITI Aayog have set the bar high for themselves. However it will be extremely important to translate this framework into large scale adoption and follow it up with detailed IT architecture guidelines for National or State Health IT Platforms, or possibly even the solution architecture itself, incorporating the inputs highlighted here among all other considerations. They must also apply the crucial lessons learnt from the India stack adoption. Only then we can be assured that this Digitization initiative goes beyond a cliche and fetches results in the range of expectations!  

The article was first published on the Author’s LinkedIn pulse blog, its been republished here with the author’s permission. 
Team HCITExperts

The author, Mr. Divya Raj, is Head of Programs at E-Health Research Center (EHRC) of International Institute of Information Technology – Bangalore where he is also an adjunct faculty. EHRC has mental health, malnutrition and disabilities as the strong focus areas. Mr. Divya Raj comes with around 2 decades of IT industry experience with a specialization in Artificial Intelligence and Enterprise Integration technologies and is passionate about IT based public and social initiatives.

Containing Health Care Cost, What is our role as a Physician? by Dr. Chandrika Kambam @Ckambam

Indian health care is at an inflection point. Today governments’ spending on healthcare needs is one of the lowest amongst the Developing countries [1]. India spends about 5% of the total expenditure on Health which is around 1.7% of the GDP. Public healthcare growth has slowed down over years. In 1998 about 43% of population was served by Public Hospitals and today only 30% use the Public health care system. [2] That means almost 70% of the health care needs are serviced by Private players, trust hospitals and non-profit institutions. This has led to the rapid growth of Private players who are growing at the rate of CAGR 16.5% year on year [3]. The costs of procedures or hospitalization has increased anywhere from 83% to 263% in 10 yrs. i.e. 2004 to 2014. There is also a wide variation of the cost for the same procedure in different hospitals [4]. It is also noted that 86% of rural Indian patients and 82% of urban Indian patients do not have access to any form of employer-provided or state-funded insurance.

Government of India is cognizant of this gap and is taking a 360-approach to help people of India get affordable, accessible, quality healthcare. They have capped prices for certain lifesaving drugs, stents and implants. They have created a common entrance examination throughout India. The Medical council of India is being replaced by National Medical Commission which has more representation across different states. Ayushman Bharath is world’s biggest and ambitious project to cover 10 lakh family appropriately 50 crore people based on socio economic status defined by the Socio- Economic caste census 2010. 

Some of the states are also proactively implementing systems to monitor delivery of the healthcare services through State medical establishment acts.
Being an integral part of the healthcare delivery system, we are not only responsible for treating patients but also understand our role and responsibility in the way care is delivered. We are the primary drivers, who can steer the system in the most cost-effective way, with good clinical outcomes or remain oblivious of costs! In order to help the patient and the hospital, it is important we understand what goes in to the revenue and costs of running a hospital and how each factor plays a role in escalating and deescalating the costs. In a study done by IMS (Intercontinental marketing company- Parent IQVIA) institute on avoidable costs in healthcare[5] they attributed avoidable costs into six major buckets: They are:

– Medication Non compliance
– Non/Delayed adherence to Evidence based medicine
– Antibiotic misuse
– Medication errors
– Suboptimal use of generics
– Mismanaged polypharmacy in elderly

If the above mentioned are the six major causes in the delivery of care, the following are the major factors in inappropriate utilization of services i.e. inappropriate admissions, overuse of outpatient services, misuse and abuse of prescriptions and unindicated ER visits. 

Medication non adherence:
Medication non adherence alone contributes to $68billion to $148billion dollars in costs. Patients usually are non-adherent to prescriptions due to costs, lack of information on the long term effects of noncompliance, cultural beliefs, side effects and lack of social support. It is noted that only 75% of patient fill their prescription when written first time. And 32% -40% do not fill up their prescriptions on subsequent follow up. Government initiatives in capping the prices and fixing the selling price do help in improving compliance. But as Doctors we can play our role by educating patients, prescribing low cost, quality product so that we do not burden our patients.  

Nonadherence or delayed adherence to Evidence Based Medicine protocols:
Avoidable costs due to delayed or non-adherence to evidence based medicine costs anywhere from $19 billion to $64billion. Not able to timely diagnose, start treatment and lack of follow up are the major contributing factions. Guideline adherence is seen only on 61.9% in Diabetes and 20% in Hepatitis C patients. The importance of keeping ourselves updated with recent changes in the standards and protocol and use them appropriately in order to avoid such wastage cannot be stressed enough. Educating patients on long term complications and help patients understand that prevention always costs less than the actual treatment, goes a long way. 

Antibiotic misuse:
Antibiotic misuse, the cost opportunity for the antibiotic misuse ranges from $27 billion to $42 billion. Prescriptions for viral infections and usage of broad spectrum antibiotics tops the list of Antibiotic misuse. The common reasons are pressure from patients, defensive medicine. Being more responsible, while prescribing antibiotics, understanding the communities’ microbial nature and their sensitivity pattern helps to decide on the antibiotic needs. 

Similarly medication errors, suboptimal use of generics and mismanaged polypharmacy in elderly also contribute to approximately $50billion in costs. 

Apart from patient and clinical factors, administrative factors adds on to $126 to $315 billion in cost for delivering health care[6]. The cost are majorly coming from ineffective claims process, staff turnover, ineffective IT systems and paper prescriptions.

There are tools available to calculate the healthcare wasteful spending in USA[7]. These tools assess spending at the micro level, helps to develop specific targets and to assess the results of specific Interventions.

Another trend that is catching up is on payments based on value of care given rather than quantity. Value based payment models are slowly, but surely catching up across many developed countries and in India it is in its nascent stage enforced by few Insurance companies.

While we are grappling with inadequate funding, inefficient systems, lack of standardization, there is whole new wave that is going to make its presence felt sooner than later which is on “Information technology” in health care. There is already quite a bit of information technology solutions used in public sectors such as national health portal, online registration system, Central drug standard control organization so on and so forth. In private sectors the use of technology is far advanced in the form of electronic medical records, apps, call center, point of care devices, internet of things etc… The growth of this sector in health care will continue to see upswing as they try to help us find out solutions for each of the problem case in Health care. 

The hospitals of the future will move from hospitals to home, utilize mobile technologies to stay connected with patients, care pathways to help standardize delivery of the care[8]. The hospital beds probably will get restricted to use for post-operative care, intensive care and such other high end work. Public insurance will gradually increase the spectrum of population they cover[9]  and public private partnership has to happen in order to deliver care for such huge population base.  Becoming cost effective is the need of the hour.

[10] Rising income level, ageing population, growing health awareness and changing attitude towards preventive healthcare is expected to boost healthcare services demand in future, but in a different areas, than what it is today. We need to understand these trends and prepare ourselves better so that we are not caught unaware.

The article was first published in American college of Physician-India chapter in their 3rd annual conference, Lucknow and has been republished here with the author’s permission.


1.  World health organization and world health statistics 2017
2.  National sample survey office(NSSO)
3.  Frost and Sullivan LSI financial services, Deloitte
4.  BMJ Open. 2013; 3(6): e002844.Published online 2013 Jun 11. doi:  10.1136/bmjopen-2013-002844 PMCID: PMC3686227 PMID: 23794591 Costs of surgical procedures in Indian hospitals Susmita Chatterjee and Ramanan Laxminaraya
5.  IMS Institute for healthcare informative: Avoidable costs in Healthcare.
6.  Analysis by PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Health Research Institute: the price of excess.
7.  American health policy institute: using data driven disruption to reduce wasteful spending in health care.
8.  NAT health PWC funding Indian healthcare, catalyzing the next wave of growth.
9.  An HFMA value Project report: Strategies for restructuring costs structure.
10.  India brand equity foundation

 Dr. Chandrika Kambam







I am founder and chairman for Yeshshomaheswari trust through which I help economically weaker section for education and health care needs.

Free time, I enjoy gardening and I work out to keep fit. I write blogs on topics close to my heart. drchandrikakambam.com

Simplifying Health Economics by Dr. Karan Sharma

After hearing about India’s New Health Insurance Program, I thought it is good idea to share about Health Economics, so here I am

Health economics is a branch of economics concerned with issues related to efficiency, effectiveness, value and behavior in the production and consumption of health and healthcare. 

Alan William Plumbing Diagram about Health Economics
I am using Alan Williams “Plumbing Diagram” to comprehensively understand Healthcare Economics. He has divided scope of healthcare economics into eight distinct topics (explained in the documents) which are:
·        What is health and what is its value?
·        What influences health? (other than healthcare)
·        The demand for healthcare
·        The supply of healthcare
·        Micro-economic evaluation at treatment level
·        Market equilibrium
·        Evaluation at whole system level
·        Planning, budgeting and monitoring mechanisms.
There are interlinkages between each topic, which make it possible to see Health Economics as an integrated whole – more than an Ad-hoc assemblage of topics. According to understanding – The first five boxes
(A) Health and its values,
(B) Influencers to health,
(C) Demand for healthcare,
(D) Supply of healthcare and
(E) Market equilibrium factors are the analytical “Engine” of health economics.

The remaining three (F) Microeconomic evaluations, (G) Planning, budgeting and monitoring and (H) Evaluation of system are main area of Applied Economics. 

Let us understand each topic and its relationships:
A.    Health 
Health can be defined as physical, mental, and social wellbeing, and as a resource for living a full life. It refers not only to the absence of disease, but the ability to recover and bounce back from illness and other problems.
Health generally evaluated through its value and perceived attributes, which are like:
1.     Productivity of individual healthy days
2.     Value of life
3.     Expenses caused by diseases and etc.
Health can be treated both as consumption and an investment good, Consumption: health makes people feel better, Investment: it increases the number of healthy days to work and to earn income.
Health does have characteristics that more conventional goods have; it can be manufactured; it is wanted and people are willing to pay for improvements in it; and it is scarce relative to people’s wants for it. It is less tangible than most other goods, cannot be traded and cannot be passed from one person to another, although obviously some diseases can.
B.     Influencers
According to WHO, many factors combine together to affect the health of individuals and communities. The few factors which affect health include:
1.     Income and social status – higher income and social status are linked to better health. The greater the gap between the richest and poorest people, the greater the differences in health.
2.     Education – low education levels are linked with poor health, more stress and lower self-confidence.
3.     Physical environment – safe water and clean air, healthy workplaces, safe houses, communities and roads all contribute to good health. Employment and working conditions – people in employment are healthier, particularly those who have more control over their working conditions
4.   Social support networks – greater support from families, friends and communities is linked to better health. Culture – customs and traditions, and the beliefs of the family and community all affect health.
5.     Genetics – inheritance plays a part in determining lifespan, healthiness and the likelihood of developing certain illnesses. Personal behavior and coping skills – balanced eating, keeping active, smoking, drinking, and how we deal with life’s stresses and challenges all affect health.
6.     Health services – access and use of services that prevent and treat disease influences health
7.     Gender – men and women suffer from different types of diseases at different ages.
There are evidences available of other examples which has been documented which are like: Transport, Food and Agriculture, Housing, Waste, Energy, Industry, Urbanization, Water, Radiation, Nutrition etc.
C.     Demand
Health demand is to achieve larger stock of Health Capital (healthy days). It is not passively purchased from market; it is produce in combining time with purchased medical inputs. Both value of Health and its influencers affect the demand. 
The demand for health is unlike most other goods because individuals allocate resources in order to both consume and produce health. There are four roles of person in health economics:
1.    Contributors
2.    Citizens
3.    Provider
4.    Consumers
 In the context of ordinary goods and services, economics distinguishes between a want, which is the desire to consume something, and effective demand, which is a want backed up by the willingness and ability to pay for it. It is effective demand that is the determinant of resource allocation in a market, rather than wants. But in the context of health care, the issue is more complicated than this, because many people believe that what matters in health care is neither wants nor demands, but needs. Health economists generally interpret a health care need as the capacity to benefit from it, thereby relating needs for health care to a need for health improvements. 
Not all wants are needs and vice versa. For example, a person may want nutrition supplements, even though these will not produce any health improvements for them; or they may not want a visit to the dentist even if it would improve their oral health.
Healthcare has its peculiarity that may mean, it is not considered as any good or service where demand can be analyzed, however that the usual assumptions about the resource allocation effects of markets do not hold meaning for healthcare. Moreover, it may well be that people wish resource allocation to be based on the demand for health or the need for health care, neither of which can be provided in a conventional market. 
D.    Supply
Supply is to achieve and fulfill the demand of health. The supply side of the market is analyzed in economics in two separate but related ways. One is related to the Resource input and Goods output model, looking at how resource use, costs and outputs are related to each other within a system.
Important influencing factors to supply are as follows:
1.     Cost of production of service
2.     Alternatives of services
3.     Substitutes of inputs
4.     Remuneration and incentives
5.     Medical equipment and pharmaceutical markets
Other way in which supply is analyzed is Market structure – how many firms are there supplying to a market and how do they behave with respect to setting prices and output and making profits. These generally managed through market equilibrium
E.     Market equilibrium 
State where economic forces like demand and supply balanced. For healthcare many believes, it is imperfectly competitive market (Nash Equilibrium) where there is strategic interdependence between two firms. The Nash equilibrium occurs when both firms are producing the outputs which maximize their own profit given the output of the other firm. The other side believes it is competitive market. Market equilibrium factors are as follows:
1.     Money (payer), investment etc.
2.     Price mechanism
3.     Time price factors
4.     Waiting list
F.      Micro-economics evaluation
In simple words it is decision making related to allocation of resources. Major goal of microeconomics is to analyze the market mechanisms that establish relative prices among goods and services and allocate limited resources among alternative uses. It also analyzes market failure, where markets fail to produce efficient results. Few topics which would play important role in micro economics evaluation are:
1.     Cost effectiveness and cost benefit analysis of alternative treatment
2.     Cost utility analysis
3.     Opportunity costing
4.     Allocation based on phases of disease (Detection, diagnosing, treatment and after care)
5.     Market structure
Healthcare market typically which are analyzed are:
1.     Healthcare financing market
2.     Physician and Nurse services market
3.     Institutional service market
4.     Input factors market
5.     Professional education market
G.    Planning, Budgeting and Monitoring
Optimizing the system through effective instruments and tools, few are as follow:
1.     Budgeting
2.     Manpower allocation
3.     Regulation and norms
4.     Incentives structure
H.    Evaluation of system
It is to bring efficiency and equity to the system to bear on (E) Market equilibrium and (F) Micro economic factors through inter regional comparison, international comparison and benchmarking.
Efficiency – the allocation of scarce resources that maximizes the achievement of aims by Knapp.
Equity is always an important criterion for allocation of resources. However, it is observable that people attach more importance to equity in health and health care than they do to many other goods and services. It is important to distinguish equity from equality. Equity means fairness; in the health care context this means a fair distribution of health and health care between people and fairness in the burden of financing health care. Equality means an equal distribution, but it may not always be fair to be equal. 
Health economics has number of methodological limitations but it can offer us useful concepts and principles which help us think more clearly about the implications of resource decisions. An understanding of some basic economic principles is essential for all practitioners not only to understand the useful concepts the discipline can offer but to appreciate its limitations and shortcomings.
Wish to hear more from my connections on this…

The article was first published on Dr. Karan Sharma’s LinkedIn pulse page here, its been re-published here with the Author’s permission. 

Karan Sharma

Healthcare Strategy and Customer Experience Manager, Technology Enthusiast, Innovator and Healthcare Business Leader.

Highly experienced and focused senior Executive with strong background in Healthcare strategies and business problem solving. Have managed multiple projects in different disciplines and geographies with strong track record of building great teams with exceptional results. Provide and Execute vision, strategies or idea.

He is a clinician and healthcare management professional, worked in India, Middle East and Maldives.

Some perceived shortfalls in the proposed Indian National Health Stack by Dr. Pramod Jacob

There is ongoing work in India for a Nationwide Information Technology platform, that will support and facilitate the deployment of the Ayushman Bharat program, which is called the “National Health Stack”, the objective of which is to help achieve Continuum of Care across Primary, Secondary and Tertiary care for each of its citizens and facilitate payment for the care.

A draft of the National Health Stack (NHS) strategy and approach was put out in July 2018 for feedback and comments till July 31, following which no final draft has been published in the public domain. Hence the shortfalls brought out in this write up are based on the July 2018 draft and so these are perceived shortfalls, because the final version may have addressed these concerns. If so, request that the final document be published in the public domain. http://niti.gov.in/writereaddata/files/document_publication/NHS-Strategy-and-Approach-Document-for-consultation.pdf  

There is  recognition for the need of holistic longitudinal individual electronic health records for citizens, rather than just collated population-based data, for which one of the key components in the NHS Stack is going to be the Federated Personal Health Record. But is this requirement of an individual’s record to ensure continuity of care or mainly to avoid fraud and bring greater trust into the claim handling process? If it is for the stated objective of fulfilling the National Health Policy 2017 that states 

“The attainment of the highest possible level of health and wellbeing for all at all ages, through a preventive and promotive health care orientation in all developmental policies, and universal access to good quality health care services without anyone having to face financial hardship as a consequence… “

Then, in this write up I focus on two issues of immediate concern.

1.  No requirement explicitly stated for compliance to Healthcare Information Technology (HIT)/EHR standards as recommended by MOHFW and published on December 2016 

2. Different applications being developed at various levels of care, both in the public and private healthcare domain, which are not proven to “talk” to each other i.e. exchange healthcare data (interoperability)

Going into greater details about each of these issues:

1. No requirement explicitly stated for compliance to Healthcare Information Technology (HIT)/EHR standards as recommended by MOHFW and published in December 2016, except for patient/beneficiary identification. 

It is understandable that when the program starts – the focus is going to be on assembling the registries of beneficiaries, providers, empanelled hospitals etc and the claims or payment for healthcare services rendered by providers. For validating the claims there is going to be proof of services rendered to be provided by filling forms and uploading supporting documents, such as test results, into the claims component of the stack by the hospitals/providers. However, instead of just having a checklist format of proof of service, if the data input is coded compliant to recommended standards (such as SNOMED CT for Diagnosis or LOINC for lab results) instead of just free text or proprietary codes –– then the healthcare data being collated is of much more immense value for clinical study and analytics. More importantly, this would bring about the perception that the information being asked for and checked on, has value in providing in-sights to providing better healthcare, instead of being perceived as an overseeing billing validation into the services provided by the clinicians, and so will facilitate onboarding clinicians to digitization.  

For continuity of care and to facilitate quality clinical care, the assumption that having an open API based paradigm for fetching the records of a citizen from across different points of care, without the need for being standard compliant, maybe misplaced. Ok, so touch points will bring across data from corresponding associated fields when different healthcare systems exchange data, for example diagnosis from the exporting system into the importing system. However here lies the problem if not standard compliant, when attempting to consolidate the diagnosis section of a patient in a repository or into a consolidated longitudinal record: – say a patient has Pulmonary Tuberculosis and over time, goes to 3 different doctors in a few years. It is very possible that the first doctor may record the diagnosis as “Pulmonary Tuberculosis”, the next doctor may have logged in this diagnosis as “Tuberculosis of the Lung” and yet a third doctor may have put in the diagnosis as “Pulmonary TB”. So, when the data is being collated – the computer will not understand that all these three different terminologies represent the same concept and site of the disease, and may record them as separate problems. However, if the diagnosis was standard compliant and coded with the recommended SNOMED CT code (Concept ID 154283005), then the compilation and consolidation of this individual’s diagnosis list will be correct, since this standard code consolidates all three terminologies as the same disease and site. Similarly, lab tests results may have various terminologies, for example Fasting Blood Sugar aka Fasting Blood Glucose aka FBS, but if the recommended LOINC code (1558-6) is tagged, then during consolidation of a patient’s test results, the correct interpretation that these are results of the same test will occur and so will be trended accurately. This will come into play even at the claims phase. Healthcare is knowledge intensive, with whole lot of concepts, terminologies, semantics and nuances involved, which needs a framework of standards to convey the correct meaning and interpretation, when exchanging information between different HIT systems.

Another trend is that in those states that already have such universal health coverage programs deployed, there is a tendency to come up with proprietary codes for procedures in each of these different schemes, to suit the billing/claims end users. For example, Andhra Pradesh’s NTRVS program has got procedure codes like S5 for orthopaedics procedures, drilling down to S5.1 for fracture correction in orthopaedics procedures, further drilling down to S5.1.4 for reduction of compound fracture and external fixation. The same procedures have a different proprietary coding system in the program run by Tamil Nadu. So, what happens when you try to compare outcomes from the same procedures between these two states?  If the recommended SNOMED coding system for procedures was applied in both the states – then carrying out such comparative studies become much more feasible and meaningful. Instead of reinventing the wheel with proprietary or local codes, if the recommended international standards that have been developed over the years by domain experts are put into place, then not only can we carry out such studies between our states but also between India and other countries, leading to adoption of the most efficient, cost effective, least invasive interventions with best outcomes. 

It is of utmost importance that these recommended standards, including clinical standards, be introduced at the foundational phase of the framework for the National Health Stack. With about 20% more effort upfront, it is possible to plug in the look up databases for these standards into their respective fields- such as Diagnosis, Labs, Procedures, Medications etc. Even better, that these standards be deployed and utilized (where relevant) even for claims (as explained above), while place holders be put into place for those  standards (mainly clinical) that may come into play only when the Federated PHR phase is activated. Importantly, to enable exchange of data between HIT systems, it is highly advisable to be compliant to HIT messaging standards such as HL7/FHIR. That will be the only way that the National Health Stack will have the robustness and flexibility to handle billing, claims and clinical healthcare functionalities optimally. If this is not done at the foundational phase and if the NHS framework is mainly set up for billing and claims, this will straitjacket the framework to effectively introduce these standards later and lead to fitting a square peg into a round hole situation. Also, an even bigger problem that proprietary codes could lead to, is if down the line wisdom prevails, and a decision is made to mandate recommended HIT standards, then the big headache issue of retrospective mapping of these proprietary codes to standard codes comes up for existing patients with past visits/admissions. It should not be billing and claims requirements that be the primary driving force for the National Health Stack, but ideally should be patient care and provider requirements in conjunction with billing/claims requirements that should be the driving force. 

 2. Different applications being developed at various levels of care, both in the public and private healthcare domain, which are not proven to “talk” to each other i.e. exchange healthcare data (interoperability)
The NHS document states that the National Health Stack a. Is designed to bring a holistic view across multiple health verticals and enable rapid creation of diverse solutions in health b. To enable patients to effectively become a Healthcare Information Exchange (HIE) of one: as meaningful data accumulates in a patient controlled repository, a complete picture of the patient emerges, resulting in improved quality of care across a range of providers.

For the above stated objectives to be attained, it requires at least these two conditions to be fulfilled: –

a. The diverse HIT systems that are involved in healthcare of the beneficiaries should ” talk to each other ” with ability to exchange data appropriately and without loss of meaning and interpretation in the exchange i.e. Interoperability. That is how accurate meaningful data of a patient should be accumulated.  Considering that 70% of healthcare in India is provided by the private sector, this accumulation of a patient’s data will require visits/admissions to private hospitals to be brought in. For this, there is the most important requirement and need to publish the open APIs specifically being used in the NHS, so that these private healthcare organizations’ systems can integrate and exchange healthcare data with the NHS. 

For example, if I am an authorized doctor for a patient – what is the API to be used to fetch this patient’s healthcare longitudinal record  from the National Health Stack?  Again, if the recommended standard like HL7’s FHIR (which is API based) was adhered to for data exchange, it would have made this deployment, hooking up and integration with NHS much easier and effectively feasible.

b. For the data to be meaningful, classified and categorised correctly with terms implying the same concept put into the same category and not into different ones, need the variations in terminology (especially clinical terminologies) to map back to the correct concept as that intended by the provider – which requires the recommended HIT standards to be mandated. Only then can the healthcare data be meaningfully analysed, trends and patterns including outcomes be detected (by deploying statistical methodologies including machine learning and AI) and standard protocols with best outcomes for the various respective Indian ethnicities be formulated, thus achieving the stated goals and objectives of the NHS

If the National Health Stack does provide the latest and greatest in this  platform- with the recommended standards, then with our large numbers, English speaking brilliant human resources, internationally renowned prowess in Information Technology and Healthcare ; this assimilation  of a treasure trove of Healthcare Information, along with the  well-known Indian ingenuity, presents a huge opportunity for the country to leap frog healthcare to the next level and bring about betterment for humanity. 


Dr Pramod D. Jacob (MBBS, MS- Medical Informatics)

After completing his medical degree from CMC Vellore and doing his Master of Science in Medical Informatics from Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) in the US, Dr Pramod worked in the EMR division of Epic Systems, USA and was the Clinical Systems Project Manager in Multnomah
County, Portland, Oregon. He went to do Healthcare IT consultancy work for states and counties in the US and India.

At present he is a Director and Chief Medical Officer of dWise Healthcare IT solutions. He was also a consultant for WHO India in the IDSP project and for PHFI for a Non Communicable Diseases Decision Support Application.

Universal Healthcare: How do we get there? by Ritesh Dogra @ritesh_medium

There is undoubtedly a clear argument for Universal healthcare. The question still looming large is “How do we get there”

Angus Deaton, a well renowned economist, explains that while there is a correlation between higher income and better life expectancy, this is not the only factor. There are means to ensure great health at less cost and equally spending large sum with no purpose, America being one case in point. While earlier any spending on healthcare was dubbed as social overhead, it is no longer so – there is enough evidence to prove that spending on healthcare speeds growth of the nation.

Today, the National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS) has been credited as the world’s largest health insurance plan. The plan aims to provide a health insurance cover of up to Rs 5 Lakh annually to 10 crore families, which would in turn cover 40 percent of country’s population. RSBY, the earlier predecessor of Ayushman Bharat was able to reach 3.6 Crore families over a 10-year timeframe against a targeted coverage of 6 Cr families, let’s say 60% success rate in 10 years. Undoubtedly, the scheme is very well intentioned and fundamentally ambitious which is the need of the hour. The scheme, however, currently seems to address only one of the three pillars – Affordability for healthcare services; two other pillars access and quality remain unanswered!

Do we have the infrastructure access? 

India has around 1.6 million hospital beds and around 55,000 hospitals (excluding community health centres and primary health centres). The infrastructure is woefully inadequate to cater to the healthcare needs of the country. In addition, there is a large variation across states. While states like Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have ~1000 people served by one government hospital, states like Bihar and Assam have more than 5000 people being served by a government hospital. Given this, how do we deliver care to the population remains a question. The gaps are even more pronounced across Tier-1/2/3/4 towns. However, the opportunity also presents solutions;

The government needs to smartly build capacity as utilization increases and also increase capacity utilization of existing Primary Health Centres (PHCs) and Community Health Centres (CHCs). However, there is a lot of ground to be covered; the current efforts are still geared towards building a registry of hospitals in Rohini (Registry of Hospitals in Network of Insurance) which finally claims to have ~33,000 unique hospitals.

Good primary care is an essential precondition for a healthy nation. And rightly so, Ayushman Bharat also proposes setting up of 1.5 lakh health and wellness centres across the country. These centres would provide comprehensive healthcare, maternal and child care, disease screening, free drugs and diagnostics to the poor. A meticulous implementation and robust healthcare delivery in these centres could reduce the need for secondary and tertiary care. Addressing problems associated with supply logistics and spurious medication is another challenge. There could be an opportunity to tie up with players involved in last mile logistics to tackle some of these challenges.

Finally, a large question that looms over is the participation from private sector. Can the government assure enough incentives to the private sector which already faces problems of receivable and collection from other government insurance schemes? Given that government hospitals have 0.5 beds per 1000 people, non-participation or even limited participation from private sector could adversely impact implementation.

Do we have skilled personnel? 

Our country has around 1 million doctors. While states like Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have 1.5 doctors per 1000 population, states like Bihar and Assam have less than 0.5 doctors per 1000 population. Apart from Physicians, contractual staff accounts for more than half of skilled workforce in the country.

Manpower optimization practices; creation of skilled manpower including nurses, technicians and other support staff through short term training courses could increase resource efficiency for doctors. Healthcare Sector Skill Council (HSSC) had already taken this initiative. However, it requires participation from some private players to jointly build the ecosystem. Certain practices such as midwifery which have been quite successful as isolated examples, need planning and mass implementation.

There are also sporadic examples and learnings from other countries. For instance, Costa Rica established integrated primary healthcare teams each looking after 5000 people. The team included paramedics to visit patients, an executive who maintains records, a nurse, pharmacist and finally a doctor. Ethiopia has a concept of health extension workers who are rural high school graduates undergoing one-year training before they are sent back to their native areas. These health extension workers have played a key role in reducing the child and maternal mortality by 32% and 38% respectively. In a review of studies conducted across some countries in Africa, it was found that clinical officers with three years of training performed Caesarean Sections as safely as doctors. In Thailand, there are incentives in place for doctors who work in rural areas. Inculcating some of these best practices should bring in much more efficiencies in the current system.

Do we care about quality? 

In India, the average length of doctor consultation is little more than 2 minutes and features a single question – “What’s wrong with you?”. Not surprisingly, research done by World Bank has shown that only 30% of the consultations have resulted in correct diagnosis. Citing another example, in India, around half a million children die of diarrhoeal diseases every year. In this context, a research done by the World bank around Diarrhoea in Delhi showed that only 25% of the providers ask parents whether there was blood or mucous in the child’s stool, which is the definitive symptom of the disease. Some of these are fundamental corrections needed in the healthcare quality today.

We have seldom talked about quality standards in existing public or private hospitals. A glance in the corridor of some of the best public hospitals across the country could send shivers down the spine. Is quality the least concern? While we have quality standards drafted by bodies such as NABH (National Accreditation Board for

Hospitals), compliance is altogether a different subject. In addition, less than one percent of hospitals have NABH accreditation.

Sometime back, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare launched an initiative Mera Aspataal (My Hospital) an app-based platform to enable patients share real time feedback on hospitals. The app has seen a meagre 5000 downloads and numerous complaints of inability to share feedback or non-actioned feedback. In addition, the website has numerous challenges right from accepting a mobile number for registration.

A large-scale quality and patient experience audit followed by implementation of drastic interventions is required to drive overall quality. There must be a commitment to deliver quality healthcare and not just on paper. Quality needs to be defined on multiple parameters and incentives need to be created around these quality standards. India would need standardized survey instrument and data collection methodologies to measure patients’ perspectives of hospital care. Hospitals providing quality as reflected in standardized patient scores need to be both recognized and incentivized appropriately. Practices such as HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) in the United States need to be studied and some best practises need to be suitably adapted to the Indian Context.

Is there a need to educate the consumer?

In order to drive healthcare consumption and changes in health seeking behaviour of the population, there is a need to educate the consumer. More importantly, the government needs to take a lead in facilitating patient education around insurance. This would also include educating them on seeking healthcare from the right set of institutions. The move would be much easier than educating informal physicians on right diagnosis and treatment. The government should take the lead in facilitating public health; focusing on awareness and education. Pulse polio campaign which witnessed a resounding success in India, needs to be created for Non-Communicable diseases in the country.

Increased penetration of both feature phones and smart phones could be another opportunity. In Kenya, for example, M-Tiba is a dedicated health account on cell phone that allows anyone to send, save and spend funds for medical treatment. In addition, it uses internationally recognized ‘safe care’ standards to monitor quality of care at approved facilities.

The way forward

The concept of Universal healthcare is not something new and has been embraced by quite a few countries across the globe while being a work in progress for others. In addition, it has helped them achieve desired results. Look at Rwanda, a small African country as an example, its GDP per person is only $750 but its healthcare scheme covers 90% of the population and infant mortality has halved in a decade.

The fulcrum of change is Niti Aayog and almost everyone in healthcare industry is keen to associate themselves with the program execution along with Niti Aayog; right from medical device and pharma firms, health tech platforms and consulting firms,

however what the program needs is a clear thinking and internally designed implementation roadmap.

Ayushman Bharat, undoubtedly, could be a game changer in the Indian context if planned meticulously and implemented well. Amitabh Kant, Niti Aayog CEO, expects around 50% of the families to receive coverage in the first year. As per him. “the challenge is not resources for the scheme, but challenge is its implementation”. The goal of Universal Healthcare is certainly achievable and affordable by the government; it needs a thinking on how to optimally use scarce resources!

The healthcare SIG  is planning a panel discussion and networking event at Equinox on this theme. Please reach ritesh_dogra2009@pgp.isb.edu if you wish to collaborate for the same.


1. On Death and Money – History, Facts and Explanations – Angus Deaton

2. Census of India – Annual Health Survey Bulletins

3. Government of India Ministry of Finance – Ayushman Bharat for a New India -2022

4. Medium Healthcare Consulting Analytics

This article has been written by Ritesh Dogra, alumnus from PGP Co ’09, Moderator of the Alumni Healthcare Special Interest Group(SIG) & Managing Partner, Medium Healthcare Consulting. The article was first published here, and has been re-published on the blog with the author’s permission. The images in the article body have been sourced from the original article.

Healthcare Conference
Register for the 6th Annual Conference by Medium Consulting, Sep 28th 2018,  at Hyderabad: 
Ritesh Dogra

Ritesh has been a member of the Founding Team at Medium Healthcare Consulting. He has led a number of engagements in areas as diverse as market expansion strategy for a Fortune 500 medical equipment manufacturer to planning and commissioning of novel healthcare concepts to performance transformation of a leading hospital chains in South and East India. He has received numerous accolades from clients for his rare insights and extraordinary commitment.

Application of Design Thinking in the Healthcare- Survey results by Vishnu Saxena, @vishnu_saxena

Design thinking is gaining it’s rightful prominence in the Healthcare as a valuable approach to solve range of healthcare issues and redesign care delivery. However, application of Design thinking principles are still not mainstream. NEJM surveyed 625 of their council experts from executives, clinical leaders to clinicians and come-up with their finding on the state of Design thinking in the healthcare.

Here is the catching observation from the report:

  • Majority of the respondent (39% ) said they only “Occasionally” employ principles/techniques of design thinking while only 20% said they do it “mostly”. With 21% said “seldom”. Clearly Design thinking still has not won hearts and minds of decision makers. Point 6 informs why.
  • Top five issues that would benefit to the “larger healthcare industry” from Design thinking are: 1- Care Co-ordination; 2- Integration and funding of SDoH; 3- Technology use, integration & improvement ; 4- Payment reform; 5- Patient Engagement .
  • Top five issues that would benefit most to their “respected organization” from the design thinking approaches: 1- Staff and provider flow & Collaboration; 2- Scheduling patient appointment and reducing no-shows; 3- Patient adherence/ compliance with Therapy 4- Patient Satisfaction score ; 5- Patient flow during office visits & procedures
  • There is a greater consensus among NEJM council members that Design Thinking is useful in “Healthcare Industry“ with 44% saying it is extremely useful while 36% saying it is extremely useful for “their organization”. 
  • Clinical Leaders ( 45%), Executives (37%), and Clinicians(33%) are the most appropriate champions of Design Thinking.
  • This is important- Top four barriers to Applying Design thinking in the Healthcare identified as: 1- Limited buy-in from Stakeholders; 2- Limited understating of Design; 3- Insufficient training in Design and 4- Uncertainty about ROI. In my opinion, more awareness on ‘2’ and ‘4’ can quickly change ‘1’. 
As Healthcare moves towards consumerization and patient centricity, Design thinking can considerably improve health care experience and outcomes. Digital Health assets/solutions built using Design thinking approach ( Design 1st, Technology 2nd) provide better experience and have far greater rate of adoption, adherence that result in effective engagement.  Is Design thinking part of your strategy..?

The article was first published on the Author’s Linkedin Pulse Blogs, its republished here with the Author’s permission.

Vishnu Saxena

Vishnu is an Industry connected transformational healthcare Leader with an impressive reputation for building high growth, high value healthcare business practices, turning around digital health startups and advising accelerators, innovators. Proven track record in partnering with healthcare stakeholders (Providers, payers, pharmaceuticals), ISV’s, med devices companies and helping them succeed across digital medicine innovation, patient/member engagement strategy, redefining patient experience thru design thinking, value based care transformation, technology consulting, Digital integration and Data-Analytics goals

Human Factors in Healthcare by Dr. Ruchi Dass, @drruchibhatt

Stare in the middle of the image below..as you move your eyes around you will see black dots flashing. now you know that there is no flashing possible here but it tricks your brain.

Human eyes could be easier to trick than you might think.A Japanese professor, Kokichi Sugihara, created sculptures that trick the mind to see the impossible.
He was the winner of the Best Illusion of the Year Contest in 2010 and 2nd place in 2016.
Check out some of Sugihara’s best brain-bending illusions:
Like when that thing goes there, isn’t it supposed to go over there and not over there? Shouldn’t the little balls be rolling to the right instead of the left? How did that thing do the thing? Huh?!

Let us talk about Healthcare now. Illusions occur when brain tries to make sense out of conflicting information based on his/her experience. Many of you would have heard about Conformational bias.

Conformational Bias 
Human sight is falliable and images can easily be misread leading to errors in processing information. For practising Physicians as well, we have seen such conformational bias. When a new piece of information is presented which is not in tandem and consistent with someone’s current mental model, there are chances that it will be disregarded. Let us think of a mental model including the three units in Patient management-
Experience– Expectation—Briefing
My cousin got admitted in the Emergency department Saturday night and the duty doctor made a presumptive diagnosis. The next day this diagnosis was handed over to the head of the department as a part of patient’s history. The Physician here adopted the briefing, experience and expectation of the Emergency department Physician to his mental model and prescribed medication- possibly got blinded to realise a differing picture.
That is why in Psychology of Healthcare, a shared mental model design is necessary. There are a lot of factors that can influence situation awareness. Mental model sharing includes:
1. members of the team holding the least possible/least consistent mental model as their approach to avoid underestimation, conditioned thinking and oversight.
2. Effective communication between all team members
3. active monitoring of team member’s actions, understanding, data processed/evidence available through the senses -also for patient, equipment, summary, documentation and instruments.
The important principle to understand is that our perceptions are not the same thing as stimuli that are picked up by our sensory receptors. Think of hallucinations in individuals experiencing mental illness like schizophrenia.
Hallucinations are involuntary and can occur in the absence of an external stimuli. That means a person sees or hear something that is not there. In the neuroimaging studies, scientists have gathered information around normal and abnormal conciousness and unconcious brains states.
Brain can pretty much create its own realities and illusions. That means brain can respond differently to external and internal stimulus.
In the 19th century, Dr. E. Babbit, M.D. proved that colored light was capable of healing through the effect on the autonomic nerve fibers in the skin and via the nerves from the eye to the brain. Dr. Spitler proved in the 1930’s that psychiatric illnesses could be cured or improved by using a visual colored light source. It is now known that there are at least four effects from light. These are: 
1. The optic nerve to the pituitary gland, temporal lobe, and occipital lobe of the brain. This information affects the conscious part of the brain without interpretation. 
2. A second nerve bundle from the retina to the hypothalamus, which is a major control area for both the sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves. Dr. Fritz Hollwich, M.D. has shown that color affects neurotransmitter and hormone levels in the brain and spinal cord, which in turn affect the rest of metabolism and biochemistry. 
3. This path goes from the retina to the midbrain, and then to the superior cervical ganglion to the brainstem and then to the pineal gland. This area controls, among other things, our circadian (sleep/wake) cycle. 
4. The last is a direct effect of the light upon particles that travel in the lymph, blood, and nerves. Researchers at the University of Vienna found that albumin is one of the particles able to be charged by light. It is then able to deliver this charge to tissues at distant locations (tissues) in the body. 
Sources and recommended reads

Using Magic to Throw Light on Tricky Healthcare ;Systems: Patient Safety Problem Solving ;Linda C. Williams 

User-Driven Healthcare: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications:


Communication Skills for the Health Care Professional: Concepts, Practice, and Evidence: 


The Article was first published on Dr. Ruchi’s LinkedIn Pulse Blog, here. The article is republished here with the Author’s permission.


Article By: Dr. Ruchi Dass

Digital Health Influencer & Health Innovator (HIT, Big Data, IoT, Analytics and Cloud)| TED speaker | Investor and Mentor

New Data Protection Law Proposed in India! Flavors of GDPR by TMT Practice Team at Nishith Desai Associates

The much-awaited Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018 (“Draft Bill”) was released by the Committee of Experts entrusted with creating a Data Protection Framework for India (“Committee”) on Friday evening.

The Committee, chaired by retired Supreme Court judge, Justice Srikrishna, was constituted in August 2017 by the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology, Government of India (“MeitY”) to come up with a draft of a data protection law. After over a year of deliberations and a series of a public consultations followed by release of a white paper with preliminary views, the Committee has released a Draft Bill. The Draft Bill is accompanied by its report titled “A Free and Fair Digital Economy Protecting Privacy, Empowering Indians” (“Report”) which provides context to the deliberations of the Committee.

MeitY as the nodal ministry may accept, reject or alter such Draft Bill. Thereafter, the Draft Bill would need to be approved by the Union Cabinet before it is introduced in the Parliament for deliberations.

Some of the key highlights of the Draft Bill are:

  • Extra-territorial application i.e. the Draft Bill is to apply to foreign data processors in so far as they have a business connection to India or carry on activities involving profiling of individuals in India.
  • Differential obligations imposed based on criticality of data, i.e. differing obligations for Personal Data and Sensitive Personal Data;
  • Obligations of the Data Processor : Notice (that is clear, concise and comprehensible), Purpose Limitation and Collection Limitation, maintaining data quality, storage limitation;
  • Grounds for processing in addition to consent include use for employment purposes as well as emergencies.
  • Intended to be made applicable to the State as well as private parties.
  • Child Rights: Child is defined as someone who is less than 18 years of age. Profiling, tracking or behavioral monitoring of or targeted advertising towards children is not permitted.
  • Rights of the Data Subject: Include Data Portability, Right to be forgotten as well as the right to correction of the data etc.
  • Concept of Privacy by design and a data breach notification have also been introduced;
  • High Risk Data Processors – A mandatory registration requirement has been imposed on data processors who conduct high risk processing. Such processors are required to implement: Trust Scores, Data Audits as well as a Data Protection Impact Assessment
  • Data Localisation: A copy of all Personal Data must be stored in India; additionally the Government may notify certain types of personal data that should be mandatorily be processed only in India. The Government has retained with itself the power to exempt storage of copies of Sensitive Personal Data, in some cases.
  • Cross Border Data Flows: In addition to consent cross border transfers would also require the use of (a) model clauses; and (b) possible adequacy requirements, i.e. transfer to jurisdictions approved by the Government;
  • The Data Protection Authority of India (“Authority”) appointed under the Act will provide or endorse Codes of Practices.
  • GDPR Style Penalties: Upto 4% of global turnover in some cases;
  • Criminal penalties also introduced for limited cases;
  • Phased manner of implementation once the law is implemented.

To summarize, whilst we believe that the Draft Bill does have its share of positives, in several places the Draft Bill is either ambiguous / not clear or imposes excessive obligations on Data Fiduciaries and prescribes disproportionate punishments. Several factors are left to be determined through Codes of Practices or to be determined by the Government at a later stage. Therefore, at this stage the full impact of the proposed law cannot be comprehended in entirety.

In several respects, we note the Draft Bill appears to have borrowed heavily from the recently notified E.U. General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”). Given the infancy at which the GDPR is at this stage, it would be imperative that law makers provide for enough flexibility for the law to be altered on the basis of global experiences. Further, we find that even the current basic law under the Information Technology (Reasonable Security Practices and Procedures and Sensitive Personal Data or Information) Rules, 2011 (“2011 Rules”) has yet not been implemented fully even after 7 years. Therefore, implementation will be key to this fairly detailed and somewhat cumbersome law.

We hope that the law is made more balanced by diluting some of the draconian provisions as well as by issuing clarifications on the points that are not clear, after public consultation. Therefore, ideally, once the MeitY finalizes the draft, it should place such law in the public domain and provide stakeholders an opportunity to provide further inputs, before the law is placed before parliament.

We have set out in our detailed analysis below the possible implications that it may have on businesses, including offshore companies doing business in India. As we continue to read, debate and delve deeper into the wording of the law, our views on several of these issues may evolve.

To summarize, while the Draft Bill does have its share of positives, in several places the Draft Bill is either ambiguous / not clear or imposes excessive obligations on Data Fiduciaries and prescribes disproportionate punishments. It also seems to have certain unintended consequences for start ups/non digital businesses in terms of imposing exposing them to excessive compliances. 

Our detailed analysis of the Draft Bill is available here.

Please do join us this Tuesday (31Jul 2018) and / or Wednesday (01 Aug 2018) at our Webinar where we discuss the impact that the Draft Bill may have. The registration link for the same is available here.

Email the Technology & Privacy Law Team and You can direct your queries or comments to the authors

The article was first published here,  its been republished on the HCITExperts Blog with the authors permission. 

Additional Reading:
1. Regulatory Essentials for eHealth in India by Dr. Milind Antani, Nishith Desai Associates: 

TMT Practice Team at Nishith Desai Associates

Nishith Desai Associates is a research-based Indian law firm with offices in Mumbai, Silicon Valley, Bangalore, Singapore, Mumbai BKC, Delhi, Munich and New York that aims at providing strategic, legal and tax services across various sectors; some of which are IP, pharma and life-sciences, corporate, technology and media

The Integrated Disease Surveillance Program (IDSP ) of India story by Dr. Pramod Jacob

Considering the Nipah virus containment story recently, I thought it would be appropriate to write about the IDSP program in India, as it had a major role in this containment.

The Integrated Disease Surveillance Project (IDSP) was launched in November 2004 with the assistance of the World Bank, to identify and respond to disease outbreaks and epidemics at an early stage, preferably before an event becomes an epidemic.

There were 4 Components:
a. Decentralisation and integration of surveillance activities through establishment of surveillance units at district, state and central levels
b. Human Resource Development with training of State Surveillance Officers, District Surveillance Officers, Rapid Response Teams and other relevant staff
c. Use of information technology for collection, compilation, analysis and dissemination of data and
d. Enhancement of Public Health Laboratories.

The following Objectives were to be met
1. Cover limited number of diseases of public health importance which needed public health response
2. Implement multiple methods of surveillance
3. Be a proactive program with timely response at all levels i.e. Be an Early Warning and Response (EWAR) program
4. Use Information Technology to facilitate information gathering, collation, analysis and dissemination
5. Decentralise and have states take ownership and
6. Centre be responsible for coordination, quality control, policy formulation, finance management and technical assistance.

It was realised that though the healthcare infrastructure in India had grown over the years, disease surveillance had not got the required attention in the past, resulting in late detection of disease outbreaks with related morbidity and mortality. One of the main reasons for this shortcoming was the time-consuming and labour-intensive manual methods of data collection, transmission, analysis and feedback for response with paper. 

Hence a countrywide Information and Communication Technology (ICT) network was established under IDSP with the help of National Informatics Centre (NIC) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). This IDSP network connects the District Surveillance Offices to the State Surveillance Offices which then connects to the Central Surveillance Office at the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). 

The network is also presently being deployed to CHC and even PHC levels in some states. The network is used for data entry, compilation, analysis and feedback from data coming in from the sub centre level and above. It has video conferencing ability to help in meetings and training sessions. Furthermore, there is an IDSP portal ( www.idsp.nic.in ), which is a one-stop portal for data entry, reports, outbreak reporting, data analysis and training modules related to disease surveillance.

The IDSP program has three methods of surveillance 
1.  Indicator Based Surveillance 
2.  Event Based Surveillance and 
3.  Media Surveillance. 

Briefly describing each of these: –

Indicator Based Surveillance

There are three levels where these indicators are collected: – 

S form – this form is filled by the sub-center health worker and collects collated details on conditions such as Fever, Cough, Loose watery stools, Jaundice and Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP). These forms are submitted to the supervising primary care centre once a week and fed into the IDSP system via the District Surveillance Unit (DSU).

P form – this form is filled by the primary care providers and collects collated data on about 20 different conditions including the above plus additional conditions such as Pertussis, Diphtheria, Leptospirosis etc. This is also submitted on a weekly basis and uploaded into the IDSP system weekly via the DSU.

L form – this is the form collected from public health (and private) Labs for positive test results for specific diseases such as Dengue, Japanese encephalitis , Cholera etc. The difference in these forms are that for each positive result, further details such as the patient name, age, address, test done and lab confirmation diagnosis is also recorded. These forms also go into the IDSP network via the DSU on a weekly basis.

For more details about information on each of these forms please visit the following link 

From the DSU the information gets instantaneously transmitted to the State Surveillance Unit (SSU) and then the Central Surveillance Unit (CSU) via the IDSP network. This network has been effectively working since 2010. The result is that the CSU based in the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), has been publishing nationwide outbreaks of these specific diseases on a week by week basis about a month later (On June 20th could see the outbreaks that occurred in the week of May 14th to May 20th) – here is the link 

Event Based Surveillance

Since public health only covers about 30 percent of the population – it was realized that there had to be a mechanism in place to identify and respond to events such as suspected outbreaks like epidemics or events that could endanger the public.
An incident maybe reported through the rumour registry or through review of indicator-based surveillance data or through the media.  Whenever there is such an incident reported and verified, there is an Early Warning Signal (EWS) protocol carried out, to which a Rapid Response Team (RRT) of a district investigates and takes the appropriate action.
The Rapid Response Team in a district is a multi-faceted team looking into various aspects of a potential outbreak. The suggested members would be an epidemiologist, a clinician and a microbiologist/virologist. The RRT is not a permanent team but is formed when the need arises from existing resources in the concerned district under the aegis of the DSU. After an initial investigation by the concerned Medical Officer with filing of an Early Warning Signal/Outbreak report, the RRT verifies the outbreak through Medical and Lab investigations, with the epidemiologist studying the epidemiological and environmental aspects of the outbreak including source of the problem and routes of transmission.
Once the answers for the causal agent, source of infection, transmission pattern and people at risk are found, the RRT comes up with the specific recommendations and action plan to curtail the outbreak to be implemented by the concerned public health staff which can include state and central (NCDC) levels if needed. This may include steps such as identifying infection isolation points, enforcing infection control protocols, organizing logistics such as special protective gear, burial protocol and sites, tracking and quarantine of contacts, ensuring disease awareness and precautions to be taken by the public. It was this mechanism that played a major role in control and containment of the recent Nipah virus outbreak in the country.

Media Surveillance

NCDC and some states have a Media Scanning and Verification Cell that monitors Global, National and Regional electronic and print media for reports on suspected outbreaks or unusual health events. It disseminates such reports to the concerned districts digitally for verification and follow up. The major part of the screening is manual with a process in place for filtering genuine from fake news. There are plans afoot to bring in automation into the screening process.

In summary it is a combination of all the above three methods that bring about the Early Warning mechanism for outbreaks and potential epidemics in India. While there is much room for improvement- the IDSP program has proven the effectiveness of a nationwide IT network and in-fact can potentially be upgraded to be the Healthcare IT highway for the country.  

“Dedicated to the IDSP program and public health staff of India – who do so much with so little. Often criticized, seldom appreciated, a big heartfelt thank you” – Dr. Pramod Jacob

Dr Pramod D. Jacob (MBBS, MS- Medical Informatics)

After completing his medical degree from CMC Vellore and doing his Master of Science in Medical Informatics from Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) in the US, Dr Pramod worked in the EMR division of Epic Systems, USA and was the Clinical Systems Project Manager in Multnomah
County, Portland, Oregon. He went to do Healthcare IT consultancy work for states and counties in the US and India.

At present he is a Director and Chief Medical Officer of dWise Healthcare IT solutions. He was also a consultant for WHO India in the IDSP project and for PHFI for a Non Communicable Diseases Decision Support Application.

Why should standalone Hospitals in India focus on IT enabled productivity by Tirupathi Karthik, @TirupathiKarthi CEO at @NapierHealthit

Fresh out of HIMSS India’s inaugural Digital Healthcare Summit, (2015) in Gurgaon, I lamented over the state of healthcare IT in the country. At the time, we were showcasing our hospital information system and launching our telehealth and patient referral management solutions. I should have been proud to be a part of the innovation on display at the event, and understandably so. But what struck me harder than pride at the event and left me with a lingering sense of disappointment was something else. And that was just how far some parts of India lagged behind the rest of the developed world in terms of healthcare delivery and quality.

Napier Healthcare is a global company headquartered in Singapore, where it manages the development of technologies to world-class standards. My other point of reference is the US. So whenever I consider the industry in India, I am invariably piqued by its difference from the industry in Singapore and the US. Especially the US, since it is a democracy like India and has similar health problems on a large scale.

In the time that has passed since HIMSS India, I have thought through some options that the Indian healthcare should seriously consider moving forward. 
EMR Enforced By Law

The most obvious difference I see between India and the US is in their standards and certification environments. We do business in the US and have to be certain that our solutions meet that market’s most stringent regulatory and certification requirements. They include HIPAA and a few others, but more significantly in the case of hospital information systems, the Meaningful Use Stage 2 (MU2) compliance certification. These certifications create significant entry barriers for non-serious players, and make certain that healthcare IT (HIT) quality is maintained in the market.

The policy framework in the US sees to it that EHRs (Electronic Health Records) are sold with certain features that ensure nearly zero medical errors, well-supported transitions of care and ultimately higher quality care delivery.
India has been working on a national EHR standard since 2013, when the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoH&FW) announced its first set of requirements. The MoH&FW has subsequently made continual enhancements of this set of standards. Translating policy intent into effective outcomes still remains a distant goal in most states as software vendors have an option, not a mandate, to comply with this EHR standard.
I must admit, though, that for a large country such as India, executing that would take quite a few years. Even then it would most likely reach only those under some form of formal insurance, and that too only in the metros and some larger cities. As a result, the majority of the population in the semi-urban and rural sector would be excluded from this. 

Automation to Level the Playing Field

The World Bank tells us that private hospitals account for 67 percent of total healthcare expenditure in India. World Bank numbers also tell us that in 2014, citizens paid for 89.2 percent of their healthcare expenses out of their own pockets[1]. These figures have been rising constantly since 1995, and they clearly show two major trends.
One is that private healthcare is enjoying explosive growth in India, with larger private healthcare providers, such as Fortis and Apollo, gaining the lion’s share of the market, and smaller private hospitals being edged out of reckoning slowly but surely. The other is that healthcare is becoming an increasingly heavier burden on Indian citizens. And on poorer households in India, that only drives them deeper into poverty.
My recommendation is for < 100 bedded hospitals to focus on quality rather than volume, and to leverage HIT and automation in their efforts. Automation helps  improve patient-care coordination and ensure the consistency of patient care across facilities, and foster patients’ (and their families’) engagement in their own care. This all adds up to better care and lower costs of delivery for hospitals, and better health outcomes for patients. Today most healthcare providers think of Billing and Inventory as the key areas for automation to the exclusion of everything else. This myopic vision leaves a lot of value gaps that goes un-leveraged and un-monetised.
From the industry standpoint, smaller private healthcare providers who leverage HIT effectively ensure their survival and success, help bring about a more competitive provider market, and ultimately offer better quality care at lower costs.

Get Over Short Termism

Short-term thinking is holding back progress in the healthcare industry and preventing innovation among HIT vendors. Our studies have shown that hospitals  seldom spend more than 0.5 percent of their revenue on IT. Mostly they tend to source customized software solutions from small time players and the mindset seems to be—“cheap is good but free is better.”
Clearly, they do not see IT as a competitive differentiator that can help reduce cost and improve productivity. Small time IT players seldom invest in R&D and rarely provide yearly updates and upgrades. This means that hospitals need to re-implement every time they need to do a technology upgrade. But instead of seeing the potential loss of patient relationships and revenue opportunities that comes with every implementation, many hospitals stay fixated on just how cheap it is to get a new solution every time.

Compared to a global average of 2-2.5 percent of investments by hospitals, or 6-15 percent by other sectors in India itself,  hospitals are far behind their global peers in recognizing the value of good software. The impulse is always to invest for the quick ROI. For example, instead of investment in IT, many CEOs traditionally have wanted to invest in CT Scan or other equipment, which can generate revenue from the following morning itself.

By extension, this approach of managing the affairs of the hospital stifles innovation among IT vendors and limits their ability to invest in R&D for creating innovative IT solutions.
I strongly urge the healthcare leaders to change their mindset and start looking at generating productivity gains by setting up lean and mean operations. The skilled work force is increasingly hard to come by. Hospitals need such critical resources like Doctors and Nurses in abundance to support the opening of newer facilities and not having them will limit growth, like one of our customers in India is realizing very quickly. With abundant money supply Hospitals can easily raise capital today but not having good physicians and nurses will limit their growth for sure.
The only way to achieve sustainable growth is to focus on enhancing productivity rather than just adding to the labor force alone. And quite simply the most effective approach to enhancing productivity at any organization incorporates the innovative use of good technology.
So my key message here goes directly to senior executives of healthcare facilities:   is to view IT as a competitive differentiator rather than as a cost management tool. And recognize that the right software and other tools are essential to making those gains and sustaining your business growth. Continually benchmark your practices to hospitals globally and not just with peers locally.

Finally, Insurance is coming

Increasingly top hospitals are becoming aware that the Insurance reimbursements are a significant portion of their revenue and rising every year. DRG classifications and reporting are going to become commonplace as Insurer’s seek to reduce their cost by paying for “packages” rather than individual services. This means that Hospitals that won’t or can’t respond to the Insurer’s will be left to address private-pay market that will shrink slowly but surely. If one studies the evolution of the US system you will find a strong parallel to the trends in the Indian healthcare system. This will be an existential question for providers.

Like they say “the best way to predict the future is to invent it”. 


  • Healthcare providers need to implement software and other tools with a view to generate productivity gains – not just to generate bills
  • View IT as a competitive differentiator rather than as a cost management tool

The author is the CEO of Napier Healthcare, a Singapore based software provider of technologies such as HIS, EMR, Portals and revenue generating solutions such a Referral management and CRM. He has personally witnessed smaller Singapore healthcare providers with ~100 beds overcome manpower crunch by using technology.

The Article was first published on Mr. Tirupathi Karthik’s LinkedIn Pulse blog, here, and has been republished with the author’s permission.

Tirupathi Karthik

A leader in the Healthcare IT space, Tirupathi Karthik has extensive business leadership experience across Asia, the Middle East and USA, particularly in the enterprise software space. He is a passionate advocate for the innovative use of technology that turns IT investments into competitive differentiators for their stakeholders rather than using IT as a pure cost containment initiative.

In various hospital implementations, he has been championing the use of Mobility as a pervasive information delivery channel. His vision led to the use of themFirst approach with the infusion of HTML5 and Apple’s mobility products across the Napier platform. Napier’s leadership in the global marketplace continues to gather momentum on the back of one of the most modern implementations of such a technology stack.

As an Eldercare thought leader, he has been driving productivity agendas for aged care models globally and seen to the expansion of Napier’s product vision to include elderly care services delivery. Applying technology-enabled solutions for senior care providers offering nursing home, home care and activity-centre services, Napier today enables productivity and improved quality of care.

My thoughts on DISHA – The Digital Information Security in Healthcare Act, India by Mr. Inder Davalur @inderdavalur

Here’s my tuppence on DISHA (Draft Digital Information Security in Health Care Act)

I have listed the areas that the CIO would do well to examine the capabilities in the HIS/EMR used at her/his hospital. The dependency for the CIO on the vendor goes up multiple fold because, the ability of the hospital to respond to the Government/Courts with reports and evidence and also provide flexibility to the patient to request and effect changes to their consent are key. I have attempted here to respond with my thoughts on some salient points in the draft legislation.
These sections would require that hospitals are capable of obtaining reports from the HIS/EMR to comply with the authorities who may want to conduct audits.
(a) Ensure that the clinical establishments and other entities in the state collect, store, transmit and use digital health data as per the provisions of this Act and the standards, protocols and operational guidelines issued by the National Electronic Health Authority, from time to time;
(b) Conduct investigations to ensure compliance with the provisions of this Act;
(2) Without prejudice to sub-section (1) above, for the purpose of enabling the State Electronic Health Authority to generally discharge its functions under this Act, it shall direct a clinical establishment or a class of clinical establishments, or all clinical establishments as the case may be, or entities, to submit such records or file such returns within such time and in such manner as specified from time to time.
These points relate to the ability to record and produce evidence that the patient consent was taken and also that the same patient was given the choice to retract prior consent in HIMS. The patient will also have the right to punitive damages for mishandling or otherwise misusing or abusing his/her private data
(2) An owner shall have the right to give or refuse consent for the generation and collection of digital health data by clinical establishments and entities, subject to the exceptions provided in Section 29 of this Act.
(3) An owner shall have the right to give, refuse or withdraw consent for the storage and transmission of digital health data.
(4) An owner shall have the right to refuse consent to the access or disclosure of his or her digital health data, and if refused it shall not be disclosed, subject to the exceptions provided in Section 33 of the Act.
(a) The right to rectify without delay, from the respective clinical establishment or health information exchange or entity, any inaccurate or incomplete digital health data, in the prescribed form as may be notified by the National Electronic Health Authority;
(b) The right to require their explicit prior permission for each instance of transmission or use of their digital health data in an identifiable form, through such means as may be prescribed by the Central Government;
(c) The right to be notified every time their digital health data is accessed by any clinical establishment within the meaning of Section 34 of the Act;
(d) The right to ensure that in case of health emergency, the digital health data of the owner may be shared with their family members;
(e) The right to prevent any transmission or disclosure of any sensitive health related data that is likely to cause damage or distress to the owner;
(f) The right not to be refused health service, if they refuse to consent to generation, collection, storage, transmission and disclosure of their health data;
(g) The right to seek compensation for damages caused by a breach of digital health data.
This section deals with encrypted form of transmission of data. Which means that any investigation results obtained via mobile or website must be encrypted Transmission of data
All these conditions can be met only when and if hospitals have full access to patient data and are capable of producing reports as mandated (5) The owner of the digital health data shall have a right to access his or her data in such form and manner, as may be specified by the National Electronic Health Authority of India.
(6) In case of an emergency, certain digital health data shall be immediately made accessible to a clinical establishment, upon a request, including information related to allergies, drug interactions and such other information as may be specified;
This clause requires hospitals to be able to make corrections within specified times or face penalties
(2) On receipt of such application under sub section (1), the clinical establishment or health information exchange shall rectify such digital health data immediately or within three working days from the date of receipt of such application and the same shall be intimated to the owner in writing.
(2) Any person who commits a serious breach of health care data shall be punished with imprisonment, which shall extend from three years and up to five years; or fine, which shall not be less than five lakh of rupees.

The article was first published on Inder Davalur’s LinkedIn Pulse page here, its been republished here with the Authors’ permission. 

Inder Davalur

Inderjith Davalur is a healthcare technology specialist, speaker, writer and utopian dreamer.
Inder works with hospitals committed to transforming the healthcare paradigm with the aid of new innovative technologies. His primary area of interest lies in using data analytics and technologies such as Deep Learning to shift the current physician-driven healthcare model to a patient-driven market dynamic.
Inder focuses on the manifold ways in which data crunching and machine learning can lead to better diagnoses that can not only be made at the time of illness, but predicted way before any symptoms surface. The path ahead in the sector, he believes, lies in the deployment of evolving technologies that immensely influence both diagnostic and therapeutic aspects of healthcare, delivering real patient-driven, data-enabled, informed healthcare.
Inder currently works as the Group CIO at KIMS Hospitals Private Limited, Hyderabad and has previously assumed leadership roles at leading hospitals and companies, in India and the United States of America.

Why India needs Healthcare Information Technology (HIT) by Dr Pramod D. Jacob

India with its vast population of over 1.3 billion firstly has a challenge in keeping a track of this vast population’s health, much less keep them healthy.  One of the major reasons for this is lack of timely, accurate and reliable healthcare information in today’s paper world

State of Health in India

In healthcare India ranks very poorly, even compared to our neighbouring countries. For example in the following health indicators: –

Maternal Mortality Rate (year 2015): defined as number of women who die during pregnancy and childbirth, per 100,000 live births. India has a rate of 174 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, which is worse than Bhutan (148 /  100,000) or Sri Lanka (30 / 100,000 ). China which also has a large population is much better (27 / 100,000) 

Infant Mortality Rate (year 2017): defined as number of children who die less than one year of age per 1000 live births. In India the figure is 39 per 1000 live births, behind Bangladesh ( 32 / 1000 ) and Nepal ( 28 / 1000 ). China is 12 / 1000.

State of healthcare information collection for events like epidemics in India

Before 2010, it would take about six months for the health information to be collected, collated and analysed to prove that a given region in India had an epidemic as the entire process was paper based. By that time the disease (with most being self-limiting) would have struck, had its toll of morbidity and mortality and run its course. With most data collection being paper based this delay costs India loss of lives and productivity with high morbidity, especially in rural areas ( in urban areas- private hospitals and clinics have a process of notifying the public health authorities for notifiable diseases, hence epidemics are identified earlier in urban areas) .

To top it all there is general disbelief in the official published health statistics in India. For example, official data claimed that Malarial deaths in India was only 1,023 in 2010, however a Lancet published study showed the figure to be actually 46,800. Following the Lancet article, the official data agreed that they had their figures off by twenty to thirty times.  Even for a common disease like Cholera, which strikes every monsoon in endemic areas along the Ganges and Brahmaputra, the official estimate for India is 3,631 cases per year, while research has shown this to be about 22,200 per year.   

While the immediate reaction is to blame the public health authorities and Government in India, one must understand the limitations in a paper world to collect health information of 1.3 billion people across 3,200,000 square kilometres. Compare that to collection of information electronically – an electron can travel around the world in about 19 seconds. 

The solution – Healthcare Information Technology (HIT)

The solution is to produce healthcare information in a timely manner with accuracy and reliability. To achieve speed, it is best to do so with Information Technology – hence HIT. To achieve accuracy and reliability, it is best if the patient’s data is put into the HIT system by the providers of healthcare such as doctors, nurses, pharmacist etc at the point of care. This patient level data can then be collated and processed to get timely, accurate and reliable population-based healthcare information.

 In addition, HIT systems provides the power of IT to healthcare such as giving alerts for drug-drug interactions, duplication in lab tests and bringing about efficiency in processes and workflows in a healthcare setting, producing reports quickly which will help in planning and deployment of healthcare. It is estimated that healthcare doubles in knowledge every few months and it is difficult for doctors to keep up. With HIT it will be possible to keep up with the latest and deploy best practice evidence-based medicine applicable for India.

The proof of HIT bringing exponential improvement in speed and access to important healthcare information like epidemics even in Indian public health, is best exemplified by the IDSP program. The IDSP program has gone digital from district level upwards to state and then to the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Delhi. As a result, the NCDC now publishes data on epidemics and events on a month to month basis and will soon be publishing it on a weekly basis. Will cover the details of this program in a future write up. 

This article has been republished here with the author’s permission. The article was first published here.

Dr Pramod D. Jacob (MBBS, MS- Medical Informatics)

After completing his medical degree from CMC Vellore and doing his Master of Science in Medical Informatics from Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) in the US, Dr Pramod worked in the EMR division of Epic Systems, USA and was the Clinical Systems Project Manager in Multnomah County, Portland, Oregon. He has been a Healthcare Information Technology consultant to Benton County, Oregon and Santa Cruz County, California. In 2007 he relocated to India and did consultancy work for the state governments of Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh. He was a member of the HIMSS Global EHR Task Force and the lead for India in the task force.

At present he is the Chief Medical Officer of dWise Healthcare IT solutions, involved in the designing and implementation of Clinical Information Systems and the EHR for the company. He is also a consultant for WHO India in the IDSP project and for PHFI for a Non Communicable Diseases Decision Support Application.

Clinical Decision Support Systems: Resolving the “Build or Buy” Dilemma – Part 1 by Dr. Ujjwal Rao, @drujjwalrao

Healthcare providers today face the challenge of delivering up-to-date, evidence-based care given the ever burgeoning pool of medical evidence, which is not only prone to inconsistencies but also take an average of 17 years to make their way into routine clinical practice. 

The 2 part paper: Discusses the key role of evidence-adaptive clinical decision support systems (CDSS) in the healthcare system of the future. Weighs the pros and cons that hospitals should considered when deciding to buy or build such decision support tools

Coupled with the hassle of meeting advance electronic health record (EHR) platform integration requirements, Dr. Rao proposes that buying knowledge-based CDSS is increasingly more favorable and the way forward. 

A number of major initial and ongoing hurdles with home-grown solutions – including the significant time and effort needed to constantly update evidence – could overwhelm and overburden healthcare organizations, taking time away from delivering standardized and evidence-based care. 

Dr. Rao offers five ways on how these challenges can be avoided with the purchase of third-party CDSS platforms.

Care that is important is often not delivered. Care that is delivered is often not important1.

The importance of clinical care grounded in a reliable evidence base cannot be over-emphasised. Evidence-based care processes, supported by automated clinical information and decision support systems, offer the greatest promise of achieving the best outcomes2. Proprietary Clinical Decision Support Systems (CDSS) built on evidence-adaptive platforms incorporating clinical knowledge that continually reflects current EBM gleaned from both the research literature and sources of practice expertise will soon outgrow self-synthesised (home-grown) solutions. This paper explores this process.

Clinical practice is full of contradictions, not only where individual professional experiences conflict, but even where “evidence” partially or completely disagrees. The primary reason for these inconsistencies is that evidence is dynamic and emergent, never constant.

The Fallibility of Evidence

Evidence can often be incomplete, with varying levels of quality and strength of recommendations3. Keeping up with latest evidence and eliminating its inconsistencies is quite an arduous task and carries the inherent risk of practicing outdated medicine (with occasional catastrophic consequences). 

Consider the following scenario:

A 2 month-old infant comes to your office suffering from heart failure. She has a prescription for two drugs that reduce excess fluids from the body (diuretics), prescribed by a cardiologist based on evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of the two medications when administered together. One of the drugs reduces the body’s level of potassium (an important electrolyte) while the other conserves potassium. You are doubtful that two drugs are required for the treatment of such a young patient. Given the amount of time it will take to find evidence to address your skepticism, you call the cardiologist. Unfortunately, the prescribing cardiologist is unavailable, so you then call another renowned cardiologist. He tells you to stop the second drug based on professional experience that it causes growth problems in infants as well as his belief that potassium loss is of little concern in infants. You are now left wondering what is best for your tiny patient, having moved from a stage of having no information to a stage of conflicting “information noise.”

Given such realities of evidence-based medicine, one must consider: is the business of extrapolating evidence something providers and healthcare organisations are willing to do on their own?


It has been estimated that greater than two million articles are published in the biomedical literature each year4. If a physician were to attempt to keep up with this literary explosion by reading two articles each day, at the end of one year, that physician would be more than sixty centuries behind! If physicians were to read everything of possible clinical relevance, they would need to read around 6,000 articles a day! 

Compounding this problem is the conundrum of diffusion. “Diffusion” is the spread of best (research) evidence on managing diseases and symptoms to the patient bedside5. According to conventional wisdom, it takes an average of 17 years for validated clinical research findings to make their way into routine clinical practice6. In an age where global public health emergencies (like the recent Zika virus outbreak) require “knowledge hyper-loops” for rapid diffusion of knowledge into general practice, the 17-year latency needs to be radically shortened to 17 hours or even less.


Clinical Decision Support Systems (CDSS) have been described as the Computerised Patient Record (CPR) System’s Crown Jewel7. According to Gartner’s CPR generations (Fig 1), CPRs or Electronic Health Records (EHRs) have had an increasingly positive impact over the last few decades in reducing medical errors. With the inclusion of CDSS, the EHR evolves from being a provider “colleague” to a “mentor,” with the power to cover the entire care continuum in guiding clinicians at all points of care.

We are now seeing the evolution of the Sixth Generation EHR – “The Seer,” that has computable, standardised clinical data able to invoke clinical decision support from evidence-adaptive CDSS platforms. Although at present evidence-adaptive platforms require human intervention, we are now beginning to see the inclusion of artificial neural networks (deep learning), Bayesian networks, reinforcement learning, and other artificial intelligence techniques for synthesising evidence relevant to patient data in real-time, with potentially unprecedented insights for clinicians. Intelligence Augmentation (IA), where technology amplifies the decision-making capabilities of humans, has linked healthcare providers to vast amounts of patient data with relevant clinical knowledge, in real-time, at the point-of-care. We are likely to soon witness wide-scale proliferation of IA in Sixth Generation EHRs that incorporate evidence-adaptive CDSS. 

This kind of evidence-adaptive CDSS is at the heart of a Learning Health System (LHS)1, wherein evidence influences practice and the practice, in turn, generates evidence, creating self-propagating, virtuous cycles that bring about better, safer clinical care at optimal costs.

There are six critical success factors (Table 1) for a CDSS, based on the ACUDIR model (Latin for “Come to the Rescue”), that can form the foundation of such a rapid LHS.

CDSS solutions like Order Sets, Care Plans, and Clinical Pathways are a combination of evidence-based content and advanced technology platforms. The dilemma which healthcare organisations face today is whether they can “build” such advanced CDSS on their own or if they should “buy” proprietary CDSS products.

Read the Part 2 of this blog post by Dr. Ujjwal Rao, here


Dr. Ujjwal Rao

Dr. Ujjwal Rao is Senior Clinical Specialist in Integrated Decision Support Solutions, and is based in New Delhi, India. He provides strategic counsel to health providers on designing world-class clinical decision support systems with Elsevier’s comprehensive suite of current and evidence-based information solutions that can improve the quality and efficient delivery of healthcare.

An experienced emergency physician, executive, clinical informaticist and technology evangelist, Dr. Rao has a decade of experience serving in trust and corporate hospitals in various roles ranging from clinical administration, hospital operations to quality & accreditation. In his former positions, Dr. Rao led EHR implementations for large hospital groups and designed bespoke healthcare analytic solutions to raise profitability.

His passion to see transformation through technology led him to volunteer as a quality consultant with the United Nations. He also currently serves as an Assessor on the Panel of the Quality Council of India for the National Healthcare Accreditation Standards body, NABH.

Dr. Rao obtained his degree in Medicine and then specialized in Hospital and Health Systems Management, Medical Law and Ethics before completing his PhD in Quality and Medical Informatics.

Vision 2025: What Health Care Could Look Like a Decade from Now by Dr. Vicky Parikh, @ParikhVicky

Value-based care, coordinated care, information technology integration . . . healthcare is undergoing transformation.

Sweeping changes are putting pressure on the entire system, particularly from an administrative standpoint. With all the paperwork and logistics to worry about, it’s easy to grow frustrated and lose sight of what we are working to achieve: economically viable solutions for providing the highest level of care to all our patients.
Sometimes it helps to take a step back, to forget the red tape and day-to-day grunt work of overhauling a 2.8 trillion dollar industry. For a moment, let’s allow ourselves to focus only on the possibilities. Looking ahead, we’ll explore one patient’s journey through health care in the not-so-distant future. This is a story about health care in the year 2025.
Introducing Mr. Average Patient
Our patient – we’ll name him Philip – is a 35-year-old man in average health. Like many Americans, Phil tries to eat right and exercise, but enjoys rich foods, fails to sleep adequately, and relies on calorie-laden designer coffees, energy drinks to keep him energized. For months, he’s been ignoring symptoms of frequent urination, fatigue, and dry mouth. But when Phil’s smartwatch repeatedly alerts him of high blood pressure readings, he decides to speak with a doctor.
This is 2025, so Phil won’t be taking any time off work for an office visit. Instead, he logs into his personal health management system – a cloud-based program accessible via web browser or specialized app – for a video chat with a member of his care team (let’s call her Dr. McCoy).
While Phil describes his symptoms, the user interface provides Dr. McCoy an overview of his medical history. Phil’s vitals have been uploaded from his smartwatch and 20 pounds of weight gain have been registered by his smartscale over the past year. Dr. McCoy notes a family history with genetic predisposition of heart disease and diabetes, and that Phil’s most recent blood work, drawn over a year ago, showed an elevated blood glucose level.
Suspecting diabetes as the source of Phil’s woes, Dr. McCoy uploads an order for a CBC and A1C while sending Phil instructions for scheduling his outpatient appointment.
Exploring the untapped potential of mobile health
In this scenario, two trends diverge with promising results. First, we are taking advantage of the increased popularity and decreased cost of the Internet as a way to passively monitor patient health. Familiar devices already track heart rate, sleep quality, activity levels, weight and BMI for non-clinical purposes. Before long, these technologies will advance, allowing us to discreetly record temperature, blood pressure, pulse oximetry, and maybe even blood chemistry. Like crash avoidance systems on a car, these devices can act as early warning systems, alerting patients of brewing health problems and encouraging them to contact a health professional.
Secondly, we are combining this with the growing availability of “doctor on demand” services. Telemedicine companies such as Teladoc have seen exponential growth in recent years, largely fueled by changing reimbursement schedules. Currently, this low-cost alternative to traditional office and urgent care visits is limited to addressing the most common of health concerns (runny noses, etc). But, we envision telemedicine as an integral part of coordinated patient care. An on-call doctor with access to telemetry from wearables and a complete medical record could remotely diagnose and manage a wide variety of medical issues. In this futuristic system, patients benefit from convenience, doctors from increased efficiency and reduced overhead, and payers from lower costs.
Mr. Average Patient skips the waiting room
After Dr. McCoy signs off, Phil follows the link she sent him to make his outpatient appointment. Scrolling through the list of available providers, he sorts by location, price, patient ratings, and earliest availability. He chooses a location near his home and schedules a same-day appointment. Before logging off, he pays his copay and downloads directions to his phone’s GPS.
At the outpatient clinic, Phil checks in by tapping his smartphone to the reception kiosk. It provides him on-screen directions to the lab. There, he is greeted by his nurse who performs a quick physical examination before drawing Phil’s blood. All told, the appointment takes no more than 30 minutes out of our patient’s day.
How patient self-service benefits everyone
Consumers today are accustomed to booking airline flights, hotels, rental cars, even haircuts online. There is no reason health care providers shouldn’t benefit from this same technology. Early adopters have discovered that online appointment scheduling simultaneously reduces administrative burdens (and associated costs) while increasing patient satisfaction. The Oregon-based Zoom+ health system, for example, has established a positive reputation for itself by providing on-demand health care services with transparent pricing and online appointment scheduling. As more patients and providers join in, we foresee sites like ZocDoc evolving into Expedia-like clearinghouses complete with payment and review functions.
Further automation will take place on-site at medical centers. Already, some hospitals have discovered that both patients and staff enjoy the shorter lines and reduced wait times that check in kiosks accommodate. In our scenario, these kiosks have evolved to incorporate technology borrowed from modern mobile payment systems. With a tap, encrypted information is exchanged between the patient’s smartphone and the provider’s practice management system: uploading doctor’s orders, insurance authorizations, patient records, and payment information. The result is a near instantaneous check-in, freeing up staff, virtually eliminating paperwork, and dramatically speeding up appointment turnover. Once again, patients benefit from convenience while providers increase the number of patients they can see in a day, which lowers per-patient costs for payers.
Mr. Average Patient learns about self-care
The day after his appointment, Phil receives an email notification that his test results have come back. The email contains a link for another video chat with Dr. McCoy. She informs Phil that his labs indicate diabetes; she’d like to have a nurse practitioner come visit with him, or, if he’d prefer, she can schedule an appointment with his PCP. Phil opts for the nurse practitioner.
When Beverly, our local nurse practitioner, receives Dr. McCoy’s order, she calls Phil to schedule their face-to-face meeting. She brings with her his new medications and supplies (including a bluetooth-enabled glucose meter which will automatically record readings in Phil’s health management system). Together, she and Phil develop a care plan that includes follow up labs and visits with his GP. They set up reminder texts that help Phil remember to take and refill his medications on time. Phil also agrees to use his smartwatch to better manage his activity level and a nutrition diary to help him (and his care team) watch his caloric intake. Before leaving, Beverly leaves behind her contact information and informs Phil she’ll be checking in with him by phone once a week for the next several weeks.
Furthermore, Phil’s diagnosis automatically adds him to an email list for patients with diabetes. Unless he opts out, Phil will receive daily educational emails with informational articles, videos, healthy recipes, as well as lifestyle tips and challenges. He’s invited to attend local diabetes classes and to join an online forum for diabetics and their families.
Personal attention keeps patients out of hospitals
Patient non-compliance is currently costing the American health care system an estimated $290 billion every year. That number will only grow unless we improve patient engagement in self-care. Many factors have been identified as contributing to patient non-compliance. In this scenario, we tackle several of these issues.
Poor communication between patient and provider has been identified as one component in patient non-compliance. This is why we have given our patient a choice between visiting his GP or meeting a nurse practitioner in an environment where he feels more comfortable. The nurse practitioner serves the dual role of educating the patient and providing one-to-one support for someone who has just received a life-changing diagnosis. By staying in touch over time, she fosters a positive patient/provider relationship that can lead to greater trust and hence greater compliance.
Next, we are making sure to involve our patient in his own care planning. He is provided tools such as electronic reminders and an app-based nutrition diary to help him stay on track. By monitoring medication usage, diet, and exercise via the health management system, Phil’s care team is able to intervene if he is not following his care plan.
Finally, we are taking full advantage of modern multi-media resources for educational purposes. Being well-educated about one’s condition, medications, and long-term prognosis can help patients stick to their care plan. Since not all patients absorb information in the same way, our scenario uses a mix of articles, videos, game-like challenges, live classes, and online interactions with peers to keep him motivated.
The future of health care
Health care is looking to technology to boost efficiency and thereby lower administrative costs. Some in our industry worry this will detract from doctor/patient relationships, forcing doctors to spend more time staring at computer screens and less time interacting with patients. However, our scenario demonstrates how technology can actually increase personalization, contributing to higher patient satisfaction and better clinical outcomes. Nothing presented in our story is far-fetched; in fact, most of these technologies are already in use or under development in pockets across the nation. Our challenge is to identify and proliferate those innovations that most benefit the health care system as a whole: patients, providers, and payers alike.

The article is republished here with the authors’ permission. The article was first published here

Dr. Vicky Parikh

Healthcare Executive who combines clinical, public heath, and data management knowledge and success, transforming healthcare systems and improving delivery and quality. Leads continuous improvement processes, creating fundamental change in healthcare industry with new value-based care delivery systems, innovative collaborations, and partnerships for a sustainable healthcare model. Strives to improve quality of healthcare while lowering costs. Specializes in advancing efforts in population health and care delivery models, addressing increased healthcare costs and improving quality of patient care.

How to Bridge the Healthcare Digital Divide by @Ishaq_Quadri

With the proliferation of smart phones, usage of internet coupled with the challenges of a busy modern day lifestyle, the way we transact has completely changed to an extent that availing services online is becoming first choice for a growing number of consumers. But still, adoption of IT in Hospitals is lagging by about 15 years when compared to its counterparts in Retail and BFSI.

What are the inherent challenges in adoption and why in the first place it is so difficult to target a totally digital Hospital? This article attempts to unravel mysteries of the digital divide and suggest solutions with a special focus on Electronic Medical Records (EMR) and Hospital Information Systems (HIS).

The Digital Divide

End User Concerns

The main concerns quoted by Doctors on being averse to complete adoption of Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE) is the paucity of time, patient safety, solutions are not user friendly, are grossly inadequate and do not suit the workflow of medical practice. The following are the reasons why we are in this mess on functionality front:
a) Lack of Standardization: There are no Industry specific standards or expectations defined on what should constitute a bare minimum functionality.
b) Solution Fitment: Vendors of all size and shape with only technology background have plunged into software development and have contributed to the divide between technologist and clinicians.
c) Usability and End User Comfort: User experience and ease of usage may sound very basic but is significant from one) poor familiarity of usage and second) Poorly designed and Complex interfaces which are cumbersome and consume more time

Technology Issues and Limitations

Technology barriers play their own damaging role in dampening and impairing implementations, the following are some commonly noticed ones:
a) Architecture: The architecture of the system plays a crucial role especially when you want to customize and expand. Check if the solution is Cloud enabled, Mobile Ready, Web Based, and follows Open architecture.
b) Interoperability: On the close lines of the Architecture mentioned above is the interoperability which is a function of integration capabilities and standards compliance without compromising security.
c) Performance: Systems tend to start weighing in as more functionality is added or data gets loaded. From an end user perspective this is a major dampener as Doctors want speed and agility in navigating the patient record
d) Security and Privacy Concerns: Information security need to be looked at in a holistic manner in the entire eco system with a clear strategy, constant vigil and proper corrective measures.

Cost and Implementation Challenges

A large cross section of medium and small Hospitals are getting interested to implement systems but are challenged on the budgets as some of the Tier1 solutions are just beyond their reach.
The inordinate delays in software delivery by vendors is a common challenge across industry. A poorly designed or incomplete system needs heavy maintenance and at the same time the Hospital which employs nonstandard practices or workflows will ask for too many changes.

Bridging the Divide

Having looked at the problems that contribute to the digital divide let us now ponder on what are the plausible solutions.

Management Interventions

In terms of Management Interventions the following needs to be done:
• Management Commitment: All Digitization initiatives need a sound and solid management blessings and backing. To put it simple, it has to be driven by the CEO or CMD office period.
• Organizational Drive/ Change Management: Ensure effective communication and onboarding of all relevant and impacted parties right from the beginning and have their say for example by way of End User Task Force.
• Enablement of the IT Function: IT is usually not given due respect and recognition and in many places reports to Finance or Admin and even HR. This practice has to stop and one need to have an empowered resource at a CxO executive level to lead the team.
• Relationship with the Solution Provider: Given the fact that there are no real ‘off the shelf’ products on the HIS/EMR space the need for changes and enhancements is quite high and so is the need to maintain a close, cordial and mutually beneficial relationship with the solution provider.
• Project Management Approach: All endeavors need to have stated goals, clear start/ end time and should create a unique product/ outcome.
• Emphasis on Training: End user Education and Training cannot be emphasized more as it decides in many cases the success of the initiative. It is a big challenge to get the Doctors and Clinical staff time but one has to be persistent in ensuring they do attend.

Technology Interventions

Following are the technology related remedies to bridge the digital divide in Hospitals
• Suitability of the Software: A careful study need to be carried out while selecting the HIS/EMR software suitable to the Hospital. There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution out there.
• Focus on Usability: To understand end user perspective, one needs to step into the shoes of the primary users i.e. Doctors and do Role Plays and User Stories, reduce the number of clicks and clutter on screen.
• Performance and Speedy Data Entry: The systems need to be optimized to enable quick review and instant storage. Also features such as templates, patient order sets need to be created and actively promoted as they drastically improve the speed to data entry and turnaround time
• Integrations: With consistent adoption of HL7 standard more and more machines used in Lab and Radiology today are integrate-able.
Look forward to your feedback and knowledge sharing.

The Article has been republished here with the authors permission.
Ishaq Quadri

Senior IT Executive with 20+ years of experience on Software Development and Implementation.

Regulatory Essentials for e-Health in India by Dr. Milind Antani @milindantani

A doctor should not give any advice over electronic media that would ordinarily require the physical examination of the patient.
» The Supreme Court has noted that prescriptions should generally not be given out without actual examination.
» It has also stated that prescriptions should not be given over the telephone, except in case of emergency.

Ensure that your doctors/healthcare service providers are duly registered with the relevant state medical councils.
» Keep in mind that certain states require the doctor to be registered in the relevant state where the advice is being provided/patient is situated.

Obtain informed consent from the patient before providing advice over telemedicine. Consent should have declarations that patient:
» has attained the legal age of majority;
» is voluntarily providing personal and medical information;
» has read the privacy policy, terms of use and other documentation;
» consents to the provider intimating public authorities about results and findings during the course of services, if required by law;
» understands the inherent risks related to the provision of telemedicine and other related services;
» is aware that s/he may withdraw consent at any time; and
» can inspect and modify personal information provided at any time.

Make sure that the patient has read about the inherent limitations of telemedicine that arise due to absence of physical contact between the doctor and the patient.
» Ensure that the patient is aware that the issuance of a prescription is not guaranteed.

Make it clear to the patient that telemedicine services are not for emergencies.
» Build in disclaimers that state that telemedicine services should not be used in case of an emergency.
» However, in case of one, please do not shy away from providing whatever assistance that you can.

Ensure that no one other than the doctor is privy to the consultation, as it may result in breach of the patient’s privacy. Have a privacy policy in place. It should lay down:
» whose personal information is being collected;
» for what purpose;
» until when; and
» whether it will be disclosed/transferred to a third party or not.

Have a terms of use of service in place and clearly identify:
» limitation of liability;
» indemnity; and
» the jurisdiction of courts.

Bear in mind that e-prescriptions require digital signature of the doctor.
» A prescription carrying a picture of the doctor’s signature may not be a valid prescription.
» A scanned copy of a physical prescription may also not be considered valid.
 Maintain records of the consultation to the extent possible.
» The period of limitation for civil cases is 3 years. Maintaining records for this period at the minimum would help mitigate risk.
» The government is contemplating making it mandatory to maintain records of OPD patients.

Always request patients to share contact information of a person who may be reached in case of an emergency during consultation. There are inherent limitations of operating a platform model versus a service model.
» In the platform model, the service provider cannot monitor quality beyond a point, else it will lose the status of a platform provider.
» In the service model, the quality can be monitored to a great extent. 

However, there is a risk of litigation against the service provider for any deficiency in service rendered by the doctor.

Documentation is key! Make sure you have all the required documents in place to mitigate risk.
» Proper documentation will help in clearly demarcating roles and responsibilities, which becomes essential in ascertaining liability.

What are the changes you invisage in the legal framework governing Telemedicine services in india? 

Dr. Milind Antani: I would consider e-Health more relevant than Telemedicine as e-Health has broader scope of activities. India has been witnessing significant upward surge in e-Health recently. However, regulations have not evolved completely or not matching the pace.

However I am envisaging the following changes/new laws in near future

·       Electronic Healthcare Data Privacy legislation
·       E-Prescription guideline/ amendment to allow e-prescription
·       Amendment to allow e-Pharmacy
·       Telemedicine Act ( may not happen in near future but required)
·       Amendment in MCI Code to allow Audio Video consultation for doctors
·       Central license by MCI to practice in every state of India

The article has been authored by Dr. Milind Antani. 

Dr. Milind Antani

Represents clients in matters including corporate mergers and acquisitions, investments, regulatory and transactional matters, intellectual property prosecution and litigation, joint ventures and formation of new companies. Focuses on Pharmaceutical, Life Sciences, Healthcare, Social Sector, Intellectual Property and Medical Devices

#DigitalHealth as a tool to Protect the National Health Protection Scheme by Dr. Oommen John @oommen_john

Author: Dr. Oommen John, Date: 12/02/2018

Digital Health would have a pivotal role towards efficient implementation of the National Health Protection Scheme announced in the #budget2018.

Healthcare related costs is one of the leading cause of impoverishment in India. In recent times, there has been a growing “trust deficit” between the consumers of healthcare services and the care providers.

The Budget 2018 announcement of ” #Ayushman Bharat ” aimed at financial risk protection from catastrophic healthcare expenses is a clearly articulated strategy towards providing Universal Health Coverage and India’s march towards achieving the UN sustainable development goals #SDGs.
Government sponsored health insurance schemes in India have run into the risk of becoming scams in the past, where the availability of insurance cover have been an incentive to perform investigations and procedures that were perhaps clinically unnecessary and in some cases physiologically impossible, such as males having their uterus removed ( procedure called hysterectomy, when one thinks of a male undergoing the same would roll hysterically !) and worse still these procedures being reimbursed by the insurance providers under the government sponsored schemes. 
There is an urgent need to empower the citizens to make informed choices and participate in shared decision making process. The National Health Portal has a wealth of information around health conditions and tools that aim to empower the citizens towards informed choices around health, there has also been concerted effort to make these available in regional languages.
Also, since a significant provision of secondary and tertiary care is in availed in the private sector, seamless referral mechanisms between the primary healthcare systems (which are mostly in the public sector and closer to where majority of the rural communities live) and the specialized private healthcare establishments would be fundamental to the successful implementation of the National Health Protection Scheme #NHPS.
The frontline healthcare workers empowered with #electronic health records of the populations they serve and using #clinical decision support tools could serve as the gatekeepers to triage and refer those needing higher level services into the healthcare delivery institutions. #electronic tracking of the referral would not only ensure that the healthcare delivery systems are not overwhelmed with sudden influx of a large number of patients wanting specialized services that the current healthsystems are ill-equipped to deliver but also serve as a regulatory mechanism for these well intended schemes from being misused and protect the vulnerable citizens from being exploited and their organs being sacrificed at the alters of greed (akin to the killing of the golden goose). Any well intended scheme is a potential scam unless robust mechanisms prevent them from being misused.
Health Systems generated Electronic health records or better still patient held electronic health records such as MyHealthRecord as envisaged by the ministry of health and family welfare along with functional regional and central health information exchanges would be the backbone for the national health protection scheme to be efficiently operationalized.
Currently, most insurance linked health care provision is administrated through third party agencies, while few of the government insurance schemes are cashless, Ayushman Bharat is an immediate opportunity to scale up #digitalhealth based real-time health insurance handshakes that enable citizens to avail the benefits of this scheme without being pulverized in bureaucratic pain in addition to their physical pain from undue delays for “preauthorization” before they can avail essential healthcare services.
The implementation plan of the #NationalHealthProtectionScheme is an opportunity to leverage #designthinking concepts and establish thought leadership towards integrated people centered healthcare systems
While we have several islands of excellence in #mhealth, many of them still at national level pilot stag , a national Digital Health Platform would also help connect these islands and help navigate through the muddy waters towards a well-functioning digital health ecosystem with an aim to ensure a level playing field for all the stakeholders in the healthcare delivery space, thereby paving the path for more efficient and transparent healthcare delivery.
More over a national digital health platform / grid backed by a robust health information exchange would also create an enabling environment for “start up entrepreneurs” to plug in and contribute to the transformative vision articulated by the government towards achieving universal health coverage for all Indians.

The article was first published in Dr. Oommen John’s LinkedIn Pulse page, its been re-published here with the authors’ permission

Dr. Oommen John

is a Consultant Physician, Public Health Research and Policy Expert. He is the current President of the Indian Association for Medical Informatics and a Senior Research Fellow at the George Institute for Global Health

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Health Information Technology: A Longer ROI for Higher ROI? by Dr.Ujjwal Rao @DrUjjwalRao

Recently I gave a talk at the Revolutionizing Healthcare with IT Conference in Mumbai around ROI of Health IT. Here’s the gist!

Before I delve any deeper, let’s understand what ROI is.

ROI can mean different things to different people. To nurses and infection control teams, ROI means ‘Risk of Infection’. To most of us burdened by home loans, car loans and education loans, ROI means ‘Rate of Interest’. To the CEO who makes gut-wrenching investments and wants to make money back, ROI means ‘Return on Investment’. As for me, the emergency physician in me wants to take ROI at its face value, but the clinical informaticist in me thinks of ROI as the ‘Radius of Information’.

Let me illustrate what this means. Think about the “radius of information” as a measure of the circle of knowledge, i.e. the super-set of all that we know in medicine (Fig 1). From all this knowledge, there are things that you know and things that you don’t know i.e., you know what you know and you know what you don’t know. However, with an explosion in the rate of medical information growth coupled with the slow adoption of research findings into clinical practice, more often than not, physicians don’t know what they don’t know. This is what is known as knowledge variability. No two doctors, no two nurses have the same amount of knowledge, and that is at the core of knowledge-based medical errors.

Figure 1
The other fundamental cause of medical errors is operational variability. Operational variability arises, for example, when a physician’s handwriting results in a prescription error. Similarly, there are many categories of operational lapses that result in medical errors.

Reducing operational variability is usually the mainstay of most quality programs and health IT is often deployed to yield returns from operational optimization. But, the question remains, what about knowledge-based errors, where care providers at best fail to provide high-value care and, at worst, cause preventable medical errors and deaths due their knowledge gaps? Knowledge variability is hardly ever addressed by health IT.

Knowledge variability stems from the “Knowledge Dilemma” (Fig 2) posed by two determinants of medical knowledge – Diffusion Time and Doubling Time. On one hand, it takes, on an average, 17 years for research to move into day-to-day clinical practice and on the other hand, medical knowledge will soon double every 73 days!

Figure 2

Now, with this disastrous collision of realities, is the practice of medicine no longer “humanly” possible? How can we avoid variability in patient care while keeping current? And how can we optimize ROI of health IT?

In order to truly address new challenges appearing as our entire healthcare delivery model evolves, technology needs to be evidence-adaptive i.e., to have a knowledge-base that continually reflects current evidence so that it can bring the right information to physicians at the right time, at the point-of-care. Clinical Decision Support Systems (CDSS) are the most pertinent answer to the vast and destructive problem of variability in care delivery. Evidence-adaptive CDSS from authoritative sources have proven to reduce spending on unnecessary tests and procedures as well as avoid costly adverse events (and in many systems, malpractice litigation claims). Although at present evidence-adaptive platforms require human intervention, we are now beginning to see the inclusion of artificial neural networks (deep learning), Bayesian networks, reinforcement learning, and other artificial intelligence techniques for synthesizing evidence relevant to patient data in real-time, with potentially unprecedented insights for clinicians.

Intelligence Augmentation (IA) with evidence-adaptive CDSS, where technology amplifies the decision-making capabilities of humans, links healthcare providers to vast amounts of patient data in the Electronic Health Record (EHR) with relevant clinical knowledge, in real-time, at the point-of-care. This can dramatically increase clinicians’ ROI – radius of information, thereby improving clinical outcomes and consequently increasing the healthcare organization’s ROI – return on investment. Indeed, a longer ROI for a higher ROI!

End note: Wondering if you should build evidence-adaptive CDSS in-house or opt for a third-party solution? In my latest whitepaper, I weigh the pros and cons of each option. You can read more about it: http://bit.ly/2AXR6h9

Dr. Ujjwal Rao

Dr. Ujjwal Rao is Senior Clinical Specialist in Integrated Decision Support Solutions, and is based in New Delhi, India. He provides strategic counsel to health providers on designing world-class clinical decision support systems with Elsevier’s comprehensive suite of current and evidence-based information solutions that can improve the quality and efficient delivery of healthcare.

An experienced emergency physician, executive, clinical informaticist and technology evangelist, Dr. Rao has a decade of experience serving in trust and corporate hospitals in various roles ranging from clinical administration, hospital operations to quality & accreditation. In his former positions, Dr. Rao led EHR implementations for large hospital groups and designed bespoke healthcare analytic solutions to raise profitability.

His passion to see transformation through technology led him to volunteer as a quality consultant with the United Nations. He also currently serves as an Assessor on the Panel of the Quality Council of India for the National Healthcare Accreditation Standards body, NABH.

Dr. Rao obtained his degree in Medicine and then specialized in Hospital and Health Systems Management, Medical Law and Ethics before completing his PhD in Quality and Medical Informatics.

India aims to be a Global Leader in #DigitalHealth by Rajendra Pratap Gupta @rajendragupta

The Article was first published in Mr. Rajendra Pratap Gupta’s LinkedIn Pulse, the Article is republished here with the authors permission

In May this year, India had tabled a resolution at WHO for mHealth, which was supported by over 30 nations. This clearly signals India intent to be a global leader in Digital Health.

Digital Health has the potential to revolutionize how populations interact with national health services and also strengthen health systems and will play an important role in preventive , promotive and curative health. India is now embarking on a futuristic journey to bridge the healthcare divide between have’s and have-nots using digital health tools. We have a number of projects that will extensively deploy technology .

The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has been taking several impactful initiatives in the field of Digital Health. Our Hon’ble Prime Minister has envisioned for Digital Platform & Electronic Health to be optimally leveraged, so as to meet the key challenges posed to us in health sector e.g. shortage of health human resource, accessibility of healthcare infrastructure, affordability of healthcare services etc. Electronic Health Records (EHRs) of citizens are envisaged to be created for ensuring continuity of care and other associated benefits. Delivery of services to citizens through “online mode” is at core of the overall electronic health ecosystem being talked about.

Major I.T. initiatives by Ministry include various mHealth initiatives for improving efficiency and efficacy of public healthcare across the country under the Digital  India Programme. Some of the initiatives are:

Mobile applications

Various mobile apps have been launched

Vaccine Tracker mobile application support parents in tracking immunization status of their children and helps them in ensuring complete and timely vaccination.

The India Fights Dengue mobile application provides interactive information on identification of symptoms of Dengue and links users to nearest hospitals and blood banks

The swasth Bharat ( Health India ) mobile application provides detailed information on healthy lifestyle, disease conditions and their symptoms, treatment options, first aid and public health alerts.

Ministry recently launched the Stress management app – ‘NO MORE TENSION’ on google / IOS.

Mobile Academy

Mobile Academy is a free audio training course designed to expand and refresh the knowledge base of ASHAs and improve their communication skills. Approximately 170,000 ASHAs of Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand are expected to benefit from Mobile Academy. As of 31 Aug 2016 more than 45,000 ASHAs have started the course and out of which more than 40,000 have completed it successfully.


Kilkari delivers free, weekly, time-appropriate 72 audio messages about pregnancy, child birth and child care delivery to families’ mobile phones. Approximately 1.9 Million pregnant women and children in Jharkhand, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and High Priority Districts (HPDs) of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have been reached by the service in Phase 1 as of 31 Aug, 2016.

Tobacco Cessation Programme

Programme launched on 15th January 2016. Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, in partnership with World Health Organisation and the International Telecommunications Union, started an initiative for utilising mobile technology for tobacco cessation. Currently, more than 1900,000 users registered for mCessation on Tobacco.

mDiabetes Program

An initiative for prevention and care of diabetes, launched on 22nd , June 2016 on ‘World Diabetes Day’. It is based on proven algorithms for diabetes prevention and care, and builds on previous international experiences in using mobile technologies to deliver these interventions. Using constant text messaging on mobile phones. Currently more than 100,000 users registered for mDiabetes

Nikshay for Tuberculosis Control Programme

To monitor and track services and status relating to screening, diagnosis, treatment and follow-up of Tuberculosis cases. NIKSHAY was launched in 2012 and has been implemented across all States, and has 6 million registered users

Online registration System (ORS)

Launched in July 2015, ORS is a system to link various hospitals across the country for online registration, appointment and for providing patient centric services like viewing Lab reports, blood availability status etc. As on date, 48 hospitals covering over around 500 departments across 18 States/UTs are offering services through ORS and over 4,00,000 appointments have been transacted online till date.

These initiatives are ensuing remarkable improvement in healthcare delivery and management.


A discussion group viz. ‘Healthy India’ has been created by MoHFW under the “MyGov” portal and seven discussion areas covering various issues have already been hosted so far. https://www.mygov.in/

National Health Portal (NHP)

Launched on 14.11.2014, serves as a single point access for authenticated health information for citizens. (http://www.nhp.gov.in).

NHP Voice Portal

Toll free national number 1800-180-1104 for providing information related to health, diseases, lifestyle, first aid, directory services, health programs etc.

National Healthcare Innovations Portal

(www.nhinp.org)- An online portal for documenting innovations taken up by states, NGOs and other private sector organizations.

National Identification Number (NIN) Portal

put in place for allocation of NIN to all health Facilities in India. As of 10th October 2016, 2,14,340 facilities were allocated NIN. Out of these 1,88,841 public health facilities (88%) facilities were verified by the states.

HMIS-MCTS Facility master mapping has been completed for all states and states are currently verifying the mapping to match health facilities in both systems. Incorporation of other hospitals of MoHFW and other ministries in NIN Portal is in progress

National Health Resource Repository (NHRR)

NHRR envisages creating a single gateway of authentic, standardized, updated public and private healthcare resource intelligence and develop user friendly system with utility to serve as a decision making tool for varied categories of health system stakeholders. The pilot of the survey was completed and the soon the pan-India survey will be initiated to collect health resources data. This data will be placed online for easy access to all stakeholders.


6 modules available on eHospital Cloud version; other modules to be made available by Dec’16 by NIC. Over 30 large hospitals are using eHospital and 7 hospitals are using cloud version of eHospital

EHR Standards

were first notified in 2013. The EHR standards are meant to facilitate semantic interoperability between different EMR /EHR systems. EHR Standards include SNOMED CT standards for providing consistent terminology across all health care domains. India became member of International Health Terminology Standards Development Organization (IHTSDO), effective from 1st April, 2014.

Notification of revised EHR Standards (2016) is under process and will be released shortly. CDAC, Pune has been nominated as interim National Release Center (NRC) for SNOMED CT. As of now 140 SNOMED CT affiliate licenses are issued by iNRC.

Mother and Child Tracking System/ RCH System

Implemented across all the States & UTs, approximately 3.00 crore pregnant women and 2.72 crore children are expected to be covered annually under MCTS and RCH application combined. 1,16 million pregnant women and 994,000 children were registered in MCTS and RCH portal combined as on 20th September, 2016.

Missed Call Centre for reaching unreached TB patients

A dedicated toll free number with a call centre that is currently available in the States of Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and Delhi. Around 30,899 calls have been made till date.

National AIDS Control Organization (NACO)- Strategic Information Management Information System (SIMS)

has over 20,000 reporting units across the country. Centralized Project Financial Management System (CPFMS)- details of allocation, expenditure of budget disbursed at Central and state level are monitored.

Inventory Management System (IMS)

for tracking inventory at every point of supply chain to establish a robust supply chain Management,

India HIV/AIDS Resource Centre (IHRC)

A Digital Resource Centre (www.indiahivinfo.naco.gov.in ) which is one stop shop for resources available on HIV and related issues, and get an average of 2000 calls per month and covers 60 districts in 10 States (Bihar, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand)

Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana

RSBY uses IT platform for enrolment of beneficiaries, smart card for beneficiary authentication, cashless transactions, grievance management, has over 41 million (41,331,073 ) smart Cards : and has handled over 11 million (11,841,283 ) hospitalisation Cases : as on date: 31/03/16 .This scheme is likely to be the template for the National Health Protection Scheme

‘Mera Aspataal’ (Patient Feedback System)

To empower the patient to give his / her views on quality of services rendered by a healthcare facility, MoHFW has designed an ICT-based Patient Satisfaction System (PSS) for implementation in public and empanelled private hospitals. During the pilot phase 117 State / Central government hospitals are being considered where feedback will be collected from more than 1,00,000 patients per day. 37 hospitals were sharing data with My Hospital as on 19th September, 2016.

eRakt Kosh

Launched on 7th April 2016, eRakt Kosh application is a centralized blood bank management system. eRakt Kosh is being rolled out for all the licensed blood banks in public and private health facilities in States / UTs. Presently eRakt Kosh is running in 4 blood banks of Madhya Pradesh, 5 blood banks of West Bengal and blood bank of national HQ of Indian Red Cross Society in Delhi. The application is going to be initiated in some blood banks of Gujarat, Jharkhand, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh shortly.

National Organ & Tissue Transplant Orgnaization (NOTTO)

(http://notto.nic.in)- (Launched in 2015). There are two registries in place under this program-

1. Online Registration for Organ/Tissue Transplantation or Retrieval– Total registration- 1721

2. Online pledge registry by citizen for organ donation: Total registration-23695

National Cancer Registry Program

(http://www.ncrpindia.org/)- National Cancer Registry Program being run by ICMR collects data on cancer patients across country. The registry data is used to compile cancer atlas which provide details about cancer incidences, types underlying causative agents and risk factor details

Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO)

“SUGAM” for processing of applications for import and registration of drugs and permits for import of small quantities of drugs for personal use. System Launched in November 2015.  Total Firms registered for import of drug (2089), medical devices (1076) and cosmetics (116). 


The system facilitates online License to the Food Business Operators falling under central license-; online clearance mechanism for imported food items; online system for product approval of food items which are not standardised under the Food Safety and Standards Act & Regulations made there under.

Total Bill Of Entries filed: 26997 for 34235 food items.

32597 food Items granted No Objection (NOC) whereas 292 items were rejected

NOC generation for 1346 items is under process

Food Licensing and Registration system:

Total application received online till date for central license : 28461

License issued till date : 28027

Total renewal application received : 13705

Total renewal done : 13649

ERMED (Electronic Resource in Medicine) Consortium

National Medical Library’s ERMED Consortium is an initiative taken by the MOHFW to develop nationwide electronic information resources in the field of medicine . The consortium is coordinated through its headquarter set up at the NML since 2008.

At present, 70 state and centrally funded Government Institutions (including all AIIMS) from 24 states are selected as its members

One of the advantages of ERMED consortium is that it not only provides current issue of Journals from leading publishers , but also facilitates its users with the archival issues (print as well as electronic) for example, British Medical Journal, an International peer reviewed Medical journal is fully searchable, with an archival backup since 1840. National Medical Library have a distinction of having BMJ since 1840 in print format. Print archive available since Oct 1840 to Dec 1993, and online archive available Jan 1994 to till date, and The BJU International is available since 1929 with full-text archive. One of the biggest strength of NML is its vast collection of 7.5 lakh volumes of books, reports, bound volume of journals and other literature, and adds latest books and journals every year. It also subscribes to 1500 current periodicals. The library has good collection of 19th century medical literature.

National Medical College network

Under National Medical College Network (NMCN), scheme , 50 Govt. Medical Colleges  are being inter-linked with the purpose of Tele-education, e-Learning and Online Medical Consultation by utilising the connectivity provided by National Knowledge Network (NKN). Under this imitative, a virtual layer of Specialty/ Super Specialty doctors from these Medical colleges would also be created  for providing “Online Medical Consultation” facility to citizens which will be similar to OPD facility but in a virtual way through a web-portal. This will help patients from rural, remote and urban areas to access doctors and specialists easily even from their home location through their Smart Phones, through Government healthcare institutions (PHC/CHC) and through Common Service Centers (CSCs). 

National Telemedicine Network (NTN)

In the first phase of National Telemedicine Network project, it is proposed to connect 500 PHC/CHC/SDH at remote/rural locations with 50 District Hospitals. These District hospitals will be networked with 50 Medical Colleges.

Telemedicine by using Space Technology

Establishment of SATCOM based telemedicine centres at Chardhams and other important places of pilgrimage in collaboration with DoS (ISRO).

Integrated Health Information Platform (IHIP)

In order to augment the overall Electronic Health ecosystem further, the Ministry has envisaged setting up IHIP. This is a major step in the direction of addressing the existing situation of ‘electronic silos’ in health system. Interoperability and data exchange amongst Health IT Systems is almost lacking.

IHIP is expected to address various key issues and challenges such as fragmented information systems, accessibility & quality of data, duplicate information systems and most important lack of common EHR System. Today, most of the patient records get trapped in multiple silos. IHIP would work in the direction to enable the EHRs of citizens to be made available nationwide with the help of Health Information Exchange.

IHIP would in due course facilitate better health services to citizens and improve efficiency of healthcare services and programmes through optimal utilization of resources, availability of information for better decision and reduction in medical errors etc. With help of EHRs, cost reduction in medical cost is expected as requirement of redundant medical tests would be checked.

Citizens would be empowered through online access to IHIP to view their health records and also to upload other medical records in order to create and maintain personal health record.

In line with Startup India initiative, IHIP would also provide an opportunity to Health IT start-ups to host their innovative solutions for use by different stakeholders. 

States and Union Territories (UTs) are being supported for implementation of hospital information system at hospitals and health centres for facilitating creation of EHRs.

Ministry has already started the process for setting up IHIP and it is expected to be ready for pilot in select States/UTs early next financial year. The platform will by then be ready for progressive roll-out all over the country. 

National Digital Health Authority

Setting up of the National Digital Health Authority (NDHA) is another milestone for Indian Healthcare IT. The various regulatory aspects of digital health deployent like privacy, security, access, disclosure, exchange. would be taken care of by National Digital Health Authority (NDHA) proposed to be set up by MoHFW. The work on the same is already on , and this will institutionalize the support for digital health.

National Health Helpline

The Ministry is working on setting up of the health helplines . We want to ensure that people have the information they need, and on time 24 x7 in the remotest and inaccessible areas . This project should roll out by early next year . National Health Helpline  is envisioned to be offering its services in 16 regional language including reliable medical information with a doctor/an expert by harnessing the high number of mobile connections in India (in almost every household). This health helpline facility will help rural population save money and time on visits to doctor in a large number of cases

India Health Information Network (IHIN)

The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare , Government of India has initiated IHIN – A think tank of private and public sector to advice the Government on Digital Health.

Ministry is committed to financially support all the digital initiatives, and looks forward to multi-stakeholder engagement, and private public partnerships to scale up these initiatives


Rajendra Pratap Gupta is the Advisor to the Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare , Government of India . Views are personal. 

Rajendra Pratap Gupta

Rajendra Pratap Gupta (Rajendra) is an original thinker and an innovator and one of the most influential and sought after public policy expert in the country. He has worked with some of the largest organizations across the world and was nominated to the Global Agenda Council of the World Economic Forum for 2012-2014 in recognition of his work.

He was conferred; ‘Global Healthcare Leader of the Year’ award in 2012 by the sheriff of Los Angeles; named the ‘Thought Leader of the Year’ three years in a row by ICT Post; Featured amongst the ’25 living Legends of Healthcare in India’ and is listed amongst the “100 Most Impactful Healthcare Leaders”.

Enactment of Healthcare Reforms, Including PPCA, Drives the HCIT Solutions Market by Deepa Tatkare

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the U.S., about 1.2 million vacancies would be available for registered nurses from 2014 to 2022. 

The demand of home healthcare is expected to increase and drive the healthcare IT solutions & services such as telehealth, telemedicine, and mHealth during the forecast period to meet the demand-supply gap

Enactment of Healthcare Reforms Including Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) Drives the Healthcare Information Technology (HCIT) Solutions Market 

Healthcare information technology (HCIT) deals in creation, design, development, and maintenance of information systems for healthcare organizations. It is expected to improve medical care, curb costs, minimize manual errors, and enable the optimization of reimbursement for ambulatory and inpatient healthcare providers.

Many government healthcare policies promote the use of both non-clinical and clinical solutions, especially electronic medical/health records (EMR/EHR), mHealth, and telehealth. While, EHRs benefit healthcare organizations by curbing treatment costs; mHealth utilizes mobile phones and communication devices to provide immediate care to patients. Increasing number of patients have adopted mHealth, as it is economical, and provides insights on preventive health care services, chronic disease management, disease surveillance, epidemic treatment support, outbreak tracking, and reducing overall healthcare cost. 

Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), commonly termed as Obama’s Health Care, is one of the most important healthcare policies that has affected the adoption of HCIT solutions. 

This law is effective in promoting enrollment of uninsured population, boosting use of HCIT solutions & services, and stimulating the adoption of electronic medical/health records. There are nine major separate legislative titles under PPACA, which include:

  • Affordable health care for all Americans
  • The role of public programs for the implementation of this act
  • Improving the quality and efficiency of health care facilities
  • Prevention of chronic diseases
  • Organized management of healthcare workforce
  • Transparency and program integrity
  • Improving access to innovative medical therapies
  • Community living assistance services and support
  • Revenue provision

For complimentary access to more information on this research: https://www.alliedmarketresearch.com/healthcare-information-technology-market

Some key sections of PPACA that are expected to impact healthcare information technology market are:

Section 2401: 

offers home- and community-based medical services for qualified individuals. These services assist patients to accomplish regular life activities and ensure continuous care for them. This section will have a direct impact on the HCIT industry, as it guides patients on their health status via telehealth or mHealth, enabling them to be in real–time communication with their doctors. 

Consequently, the demand for such services has significantly increased, which stimulates the adoption of telehealth and mhealth market. In fact, Telehealth segment is expected to grow at a CAGR of 33.27% during the analysis period.

Section 2703: 

provides home-based medical services for patients with chronic diseases such as cardiac condition, cancer, diabetes, and others. This section promotes the use of IT–based care management systems and stimulates the integration of IT in healthcare industry. 

The subdomains of healthcare include laboratory management, practice management, financial management, patient, and billing management, payment management, and others. Increasing incidence of chronic disorders among individuals has posed a key challenge to healthcare organizations. 

Hence, different management solutions are available for different levels in the market. This act stimulates the demand for healthcare management solutions & services, thereby driving the market growth.

Section 10410: 

establishes national center’s for treating depression. It is anticipated that EHRs would be used. It also promotes the use of telemedicine.

Section 4103: 

mandates medicare patients to have an annual wellness visit. It is expected that these visits would encourage patients to self-manage their medical problems. Moreover, they would be trained in self-management through the use of healthcare IT.

Section 2717: 

aims to establish quality reporting for both group and individual health insurers. This section focuses on regular reporting of healthcare insurance companies about their performance, and promotes the implementation of different healthcare payer solutions such as claim management, fraud management, and others. Stringent government rules for proper and timely reporting of healthcare-related financial documents have fuelled the demand for IT-based payer solutions.

These sections would propel the growth of EHR market in North America; affecting the world HCIT market. Moreover, dearth of skilled medical staff in healthcare facilities has hampered the market growth in the region. 

For instance, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the U.S., about 1.2 million vacancies would be available for registered nurses from 2014 to 2022. 

The demand of home healthcare is expected to increase and drive the healthcare IT solutions & services such as telehealth, telemedicine, and mHealth during the forecast period to meet the demand-supply gap.

The article has been published with the Author’s permission
Deepa Tatkare

Deepa Tatkare, has an experience of more than 3.5 years in market assessments and forecasts in healthcare & medical device industry. She is actively involved in providing critical insights on business research to clients with her subject matter expertize. Her profile includes planning, commissioning, and executing syndicate as well as customized research projects. She has successfully analyzed and presented data for studies related to medical devices, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical domains

What 2017 has in Store for Physicians? by Aiden Spencer, @aidenspencer15

The coming year is going to be tough if you’re a physician. There are several things that are going to change. It is important to be prepared about the coming changes in regulations, and what is required from a practice. This article will provide a brief summary about the coming changes, and what you can expect from 2017.

Before 2017

The year hasn’t completed ended yet but the healthcare industry has been bombarded with changes. The recent ending of the ICD-10 grace period has been the first major change leading into 2017. It has effected many practices in a number of different ways. It should be remembered that in the long run going electronic will benefit the entire industry. 

The possibilities are endless in the future, collaborative studies using patient data, the entire industry coming together to create something that could very well change the way the industry has worked for many years. 

Of course in the short run there will be certain problems especially as practices get used to the changes. Many physicians have even expressed concerned over productivity dropping because of all the regulations that have been imposed. These are minor setbacks in the grand scheme of things, and productivity is bound to rise in the long run.

Conclusion of Grace Period

The ICD-10 changes are something that every practice needs to know about. There have been almost around 3000 code changes starting October 1st. The biggest problem for practices is how to deal with the advent of these new codes. It is important to have a medical billing software to get through the paperwork. Whether your service provider has complied with the recent updates is a good question to ask. However if there hasn’t been an automatic update than you need to think about changing your service provider.

There are practices which still do not use a medical billing software, and it is important for them to know which family of codes has been changed and whether the changes affect your practice. The practices that aren’t totally electronic yet are going against the tide, and it is recommended that they shift if they wish to keep afloat in the long run especially with Medicare Incentive Payment System, and the changes that will entail. 

Claim Denials

The new ICD-10 codes, and the end of the grace period means that a practice can no longer use unspecified codes. This many have said will increase claim denials in the short run, and this could upset the budgeting of many practices. However practices that have medical billing software from reliable companies and vendors will not have to worry about claim denials going drastically up. Practices that aren’t using a software, should make sure they know the code changes especially the ones that effect their practice.


There are other changes that a practice needs to be aware about. The upcoming elections will truly decide the fate of the healthcare industry. Both the candidates are going in different directions. While Hillary Clinton wants to ‘tweak’ the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and keep going in the same direction, the Republican nominee Donald Trump wants to repeal the ACA. 

It is imperative that a practice be prepared for both outcomes. Whether that means more regulations, or less. In a Trump presidency, not only will the ACA be repealed, but insurance would be sold across state lines. This could potentially open up companies to more competition. Whereas a Hillary Clinton presidency would support state-based public option, and even limit covered consumers out of pocket liability.

Both the parties have disagreed on a problem of fundamentals. The future of healthcare industry hinges on the basic problem of how much spending should be done on federal level? The republicans have the view that there is too much spending currently on healthcare and not enough revenue. They plan to fix this by relying on the private market, which through competition would reduce costs.

The Democratic Party suggests that the amount of spending is not too much, it is however a problem of extracting revenue. This could be done according to the democrats by improving current government programs.     

What does this mean for a Physician?

For a practicing physician there isn’t much of a change as far as the elections are concerned. This is because it is important to first see the results of the elections. However one rule of thumb that we can go with is that there will always be regulations. This would mean that a practice should have meaningful use and HIPPA compliance. There are many Electronic Health Records (EHR) software that have integrated all updates, including the changes in the ICD-10 codes.

With the addition of Medicare Incentive Payment System, or MIPS, there will be a significant increase in transparency since reporting on performance measures will begin in 2017. Although the composite performance score (CPS) will be calculated and posted in 2019 it is important that all practices pace themselves along with these changes. The future of the healthcare industry is electronic, and regulated. Thus physicians should prepare accordingly. However after November 8th we will have a clearer picture as to which direction the healthcare industry is going towards. 

The article has been published here with the Authors permission. 

Aiden Spencer

Aiden Spencer is a health IT researcher and writer at CureMD who focuses on various engaging and informative topics related to the health IT industry. He loves to research and write about topics such as Affordable Care Act, electronic health records, Medical Practice management and patient health data.

Reducing Leakage in Admissions, Pharmacy and Diagnostics at Hospitals by Baljit Singh, @mtatva

Typical advised diagnostics in OPD in hospitals ranges from 20% to up to 50% depending on specialty and month of the year. You really need to see how many of these are being lost to competition nearby

Hospitals have two big challenges to stay profitable. First, they have to continuously work to get new patients to discover their hospital. Second, most important aspect, is to get as much revenue from each patient visit. The second one drives both top-line and bottom-line significantly, but is also the least understood process due to inherent limitations.

Many hospitals achieve great OPD inflow but very little sales in IP, diagnostics and pharmacy. If you are facing this problem, then this article is for you!

Typical advised diagnostics in OPD in hospitals ranges from 20% to up to 50% depending on specialty and month of the year. You really need to see how many of these are being lost to competition nearby.

Understanding patient flow at hospital

For multi-specialty hospitals, OPD is like a landing place where patients first land. Based on the treatment advised on OPD records (mostly prescriptions), patients can either use pharmacy, diagnostics or IP services inside the hospital or from other providers outside. For example, a patient coming to OPD with chronic pain would need to get scanning, medicines, surgical belts and physiotherapy. Patient could do these either inside the hospital or outside hospital.

Typical Patient Flow at a Hospital and Revenue Loss

Hospital would like patients to avail facilities inside the hospitals rather than outside. Hospital management is always worried about the losses due to patient going out of the hospital for follow-on diagnostics, pharmacy or procedures.

Need to measure leakage

Unfortunately with current set of tools available with hospitals, they cannot measure this leakage effectively and continuously. Although hospitals know very well on who is landing on their pharmacy, lab and admissions, they do not know who were advised one of these but chose to go out for fulfillment. If somehow their OPD records became digital they could measure this easily. But this does not happen and hence the fallout. 

What they actually need is digitization of their OPD records. The only option available to hospitals is using EMR which is very costly in terms of allocating resources or equivalent cost of doctor’s time for electronic-entry. Nor are the specialists and super-specialists inclined to do it.

The benefits of digitizing OPD records are obvious but how can this be achieved efficiently? How can this be done with no changes to current work-flows for the hospital and the doctors?

Proposed solution to reduce leakage

Do hospitals need to live with this till EMR becomes a reality? No! There is a solution.

Stop Admissions, Diagnostics and Pharmacy Leakage

Health-PIE service available as of now can digitize OPD records cost effectively. This solution uses artificial intelligence based technology to reduce cost. Also gives direct benefits of digitization to patients as well. Realizing hospitals are already overburdened, the solution comes with zero need of training to hospital staff or any major change in workflows.

Health-PIE helps hospital understand their OPD patients and flow, helping hospital with measurement of leakages and analysis. Health-PIE will also uses artificial intelligence to continuously communicate with patients through their treatment creating stickiness. This stickiness helps increase OP to IP conversion. This double-pronged approach of Health-PIE is a killer solution which can increase top line as well as bottom line of any hospital!

Baljit Singh, CEO, mTatva

Baljit Singh having more than a decade experience in variety of roles in Technology, business, strategy and management. He worked with multiple companies including one of top semiconductor companies as well as startups. Baljit is passionate to work in healthcare IT industry to solve some of key issues in primary healthcare. He also started SPOG

Steps to Performance Transformation by Ritesh Dogra @Ritesh_Medium

Take a step back and think on the fundamental question – ‘Have I created enough value in my current business model?’

Since the last year, we undertook quite a few ‘Performance Transformation’ projects. This was a pleasant change – existing healthcare providers trying to transform themselves and this had nothing to do with increasing bed occupancy either! So what is performance transformation?

Simply stating, Performance Transformation is Creating Value in Existing Infrastructure which will differentiate an existing set up in the market. To understand this, lets step back and reflect on a familiar concept, the S-Curve.

Redefining the S-Curve
Quite often, a business model in its maturity reaches a stable state. The revenue and margins become stagnant and at this time the promoter is faced with a fundamental question – What Next? This is followed by expression of interest from investors to scale up or providers evaluate new business models. It is at this point of time healthcare providers should take a step back and think – Is this real or perceived S-Curve? And on going deeper, the answers can actually redefine the ‘maturity state’. It is our inherent biases and preexisting knowledge that prohibits us from doing this. In the following section, I will try to elaborate the key steps which can actually help an existing organization transform itself.

1.Start with Immersion and Eliminate the Structure
We are all familiar with the term micromanagers, how about creating new creed of people who we call ‘micro-observers’ and ‘micro-listeners’? Even the best of managers fail to observe and listen to real patient problems and quite a bit of this is attributed to our ability to structure every element of our life– right from structured feedback to structured questionnaire to structured problem solving. Structure is great but never works when you need to understand your customer! Let’s start with unlearning all structures and just immerse ourself, spending our valuable time sitting in lobbies and corridors to understand our customers and break preexisting notions. This will throw up a lot of questions and answers!

2. Stop Gossiping and Start Talking
Our employees right from frontline staff to executives are in midst of action everyday. In fact, few other industries would offer the type of action that healthcare does. Let’s start listening to them and avoid side gossips, else soon we could be competing with Facebook! Spending time with employees to understand problems – their and customers, rather than skimming the surface, in my experience has been really helpful.

3. Identify Problems, Brainstorm and Lastly Don’t be a Super Hero!
While the first two steps will throw out problems and some indicative solutions, go ahead and dig deeper. Only super heroes in movies can save the world! In real life, understand the implications of problems followed by quantification of loss and the impact which solving them could mean for you. Prioritize problems, it always helps. And this is the stage where you can get into your familiar territory – structured problem solving!

4. Make Change Personal
Go ahead and implement solutions; align everyone in organization to your ultimate goals, make them a part of the larger cause, in fact create a mission. For any change to be effective to the core, it has to be personal. Create sub parts of larger solutions and assign everyone an implementation agenda and plan. You will gradually notice a change in your organizational culture, a change for good. And for this to be effective, never create incentives for culture change- it can be suicidal; only offer incentives for results which come unexpected.

5. Create Value and Monitor the ROI
After all, we started with the S-Curve. Start monitoring the impact and you will notice a shift in the S-Curve. And this is the time when you should make a shift to communicating the change – to your employees, target segment, investors and everyone in the ecosystem. More people should benefit from the change- shouldn’t they? And ultimately all of this will reflect in your financial metrics; Revenue, ROI and EBITDA.

So the next time you start thinking of larger than life problems such as trends shaping healthcare or attracting investors for scale, it would be worthwhile to take a step back and think on the fundamental question – ‘Have I created enough value in my current business model?’

Originally published in Healthcare Radius, March 2016: http://edition.pagesuite-professional.co.uk//launch.aspx?eid=fe8b4971-300f-4a9b-b0a7-58ebb835c206

Ritesh Dogra

Ritesh has been a member of the Founding Team at Medium Healthcare Consulting. He has led a number of engagements in areas as diverse as market expansion strategy for a Fortune 500 medical equipment manufacturer to planning and commissioning of novel healthcare concepts to performance transformation of a leading hospital chains in South and East India. He has received numerous accolades from clients for his rare insights and extraordinary commitment.
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