Private players to spend big on IT in healthcare
The healthcare services market in India is estimated to be about INR 300,000 crores. While the reach of the Government–managed public healthcare network is higher, private institutions have a larger share (approximately 60 percent) 15 in terms of the total number of institutions. The public healthcare system mainly consists of district hospitals, Primary Health Centers (PHCs) and Community Health Centers (CHCs). The private sector is a mix of specialty hospitals, national chains, independent hospitals and small clinics / nursing homes. Corporate chains today account for only about 10 percent15 of total private–sector beds. Going forward, it is expected that almost all the capacity addition will come from the private sector, with corporate chains increasing their market share.
According to the CII–BCG IT End User Survey 2013, IT can be used by healthcare providers to both manage their processes better, and improve customer experience. IT systems can be used across the healthcare value chain to augment the quality of service and its efficiency. Some of the major areas of use are as follows:
Patient management: This includes self–service kiosks at hospitals, registration scheduling, CRM, patient portals, billing, pharmacy management and call centers to provide further support.
Clinical layer: Various systems and applications that support the clinical layer of a hospital, including disease management, PACS (Picture Archiving and Communication System), electronic medical records, and claims management.
Performance management layer: To enhance business performance, knowledge system, business intelligence tools, as well as executive dashboard linked to BI tools.
Infrastructure layer: In addition to the various applications mentioned above, the other important aspect of IT is the infrastructure—networking, WAN, storage systems, security systems and mobility–based systems.
The penetration of IT in the healthcare has historically been low in India, given the domination of the Government and small private hospitals / clinics—both of whom have not used IT in a substantial and sophisticated manner. However, with an increase in the number of private players, hospitals, hospital chains, as well as specialty clinics, have become more amenable to using IT systems.
The level of IT adoption and buying behavior is also a function of the type of healthcare provider:
Small city hospitals: The use of IT here is confined to computerization of basic processes such as patient registration and billing, with limited use of value–add applications. Most of their purchasing is done from local vendors.
Large city hospitals: Most of the larger hospitals have implemented HMIS (Hospital Management Information System) and basic applications to support their functioning. Many of them have made significant investments in hardware, and typically use annual maintenance contracts for the same.
Large chains / specialty hospitals: The use of IT is the most extensive in this group, given the higher level of sophistication and dependence on technology. In addition to HMIS , they also have CRM and patient management systems in place. The use of custom applications for specific purposes is becoming increasingly common. Hardware support is mostly outsourced, and some large chains are also moving toward FMS and IMS for infrastructure, help–desks and data centers.
Business trends driving IT adoption
Increase in private sector participation: Spending on IT will come from both, existing private hospitals, as well as new private hospitals and clinics. The private sector, which is more open to adopting IT systems, will account for most of the capacity addition. The need for more IT –enabled hospitals will grow with rising competition, as the focus on efficiency and better service increases. This, in turn, will drive investments in IT infrastructure and business platforms like HMIS , patient management and CRM.
Key areas of opportunity
In addition, there are some emerging opportunities in this sector that will require extensive use of IT.
Telemedicine: The idea of providing basic healthcare to distant patients though the use of the mobile and Internet is gaining traction in India. It is a big opportunity, given that a large section of the country is underserved and has no access to specialty healthcare in particular.
Electronic medical records: Digitization of medical records and availability of patients’ health records on an electronic media will help preserve patient history, and make the information easily available to different sets of doctors, if needed.
E–prescription: Computer–based generation, transmission and filling of medical prescriptions will make sharing of the same easier, and eliminate the problem of illegibility.
The next level of IT adoption will come in areas like the Health Information Exchange that will help in the electronic mobilization of healthcare information across different organizations.
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