Rapid IT development to transform healthcare in APAC

by CXOtoday News Desk    Apr 08, 2013


The healthcare industry in the Asia Pacific region is undergoing a massive transformation and is increasingly looking to improve service delivery under the impact of an evolving consumer profile, disease patterns and increasing healthcare costs. According to research firm Frost & Sullivan, a large number of healthcare facilities in this region are leveraging Information and communication technology (ICT), to boost service delivery and improve ROI.

According to Natasha Gulati, Connected Health Industry Analyst, Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific, and author of the report states that efficient, affordable and timely delivery of quality healthcare services is becoming a priority for healthcare companies. According to her, emerging technologies such as cloud computing, big data analytics, advanced visualization tools, mobile and social technologies can revolutionize healthcare delivery in Asia-Pacific.

Cloud Computing and Cloud Services: According to Gulati, Cloud computing not only addresses the challenge of rising healthcare costs by significantly reducing capital expenditure for healthcare providers, it also provides them with the flexibility and agility they require in the dynamic Asia-Pacific market. As per the report, almost 30 per cent of healthcare providers across the region are currently using cloud computing and cloud services while a number admit that this is a key technology focus for their budget in the near future. CIOs in the healthcare sector believes that mobile phones including smartphones and even tablet PCs are becoming the most popular communication channel for physicians.

“Cloud computing is helping healthcare companies connect far more efficiently thereby improving service delivery. At the same time, cloud services are also helping these organizations in automating their internal processes. However, he believes that there are concerns around data security and business continuity which is dissuading healthcare companies from deploying cloud technologies,” says Vishal Anand Gupta, Jt. Project Director HIMS & Manager - Systems, CMRI.

Technologies such as cloud computing, big data analytics, advanced visualization tools, mobile and social technologies can revolutionize healthcare delivery in Asia-Pacific.
-Natasha Gulati, Connected Health Industry Analyst, Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific

Big Data Analytics: Frost & Sullivan estimated the business analytics market in the healthcare segment at $315.9 million in 2012, growing at a CAGR of 10.9 per cent in the next 5 years. “With more players across APAC rapidly moving towards electronic health information exchange and remote and mobile patient monitoring devices, the volume of medical and health data will expand to the tune of terabytes. These large, complex data sets will comprise healthcare Big Data,” explains Gulati. She believes that in order to derive actionable insights from these large data sets, healthcare firms will leverage sophisticated analytics and intelligence tools that will help them manage, comprehend and exploit this data.

Visualization tools: Frost & Sullivan sees the demand for advanced visualization tools such as three-dimensional imaging and imaging analytics will rise rapidly in the coming months. These tools and software help physicians make better informed decisions and thus, assist in improved diagnosis as well as treatment, says the report. According to S Raman, Head – IT at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, this technology is still at an early stage in India and companies have to invest in a lot of training physicians to better manage sophisticated imaging techniques.

Machine-2-Machine Communication: The concept is in use in several other industries. Gulati says medical device manufacturers and mobility solutions providers are bringing in innovation for healthcare firms that are investing in integrating advanced communication technologies, such as, blue-tooth, RFID, motion sensing and wireless as well as patient monitoring devices.

Social Media: Until recently healthcare organizations looked at social media as an advertising platform. But going forward APAC CIOs in healthcare organizations will start to realize the benefits of social media community. “Many healthcare providers are investing in online portals, live chats, panels, forums and communities as a means of sharing and disseminating information between physicians, consumers and government bodies. Moreover, with the volume of health information being exchanged online, physicians and researchers are now seeking ways to structure data from social media sources and analyze this to improve healthcare delivery,” says Gulati.

According to Gulati with all the technologies playing very distinct roles in serving the healthcare community, the CIO has to focus on delivering secure, reliable and timely exchange of medical and health information. She believes that while healthcare companies have to work towards improving the quality of data as well as data management processes and strategically investing in the right technology, the success in this industry will also depend on the regulations, standards and protocols to support from the governments of different countries on the various investment efforts.