November 2007

INDIA

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Apollo Hospitals finally comes to Mumbai

Apollo Hospitals Group, in a bid to further expand its healthcare business has firmed up its plans for establishing a presence in Mumbai.

One Equity Partners, the private equity arm of the J P Morgan, will reportedly be the financial partners for Apollo's foray into the city. One Equity Partners has invested in Apollo Health Street, Apollo's healthcare and IT BPO.

The Apollo Group plans to build 4-5 medical facilities in the city, which would offer upto 2,000 beds within around two years, and has reportedly acquired land in Navi Mumbai and Thane for its projects.

A new entity, named Western Hospitals Corporation Pvt Ltd, will reportedly look after the Mumbai projects. The group is using the JV route to enter Mumbai, which was the only metro city in which Apollo did not have a presence, since most hospitals in Mumbai are run by Trusts.

21st Century Health gets Narayana Hrudayalaya Project

Narayana Hrudayalaya, Bangalore and Rabindranath Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences, Kolkata, two of the largest cardiac super-speciality hospitals in India have partnered with Mumbai-based 21st Century Health Management Solutions (21st CHMS) to implement state-of-the-art Advanced Imaging System (AIS).

While the conventional PACS system revolves around improving radiological viewing and reporting efficiency, the 21st Century Health's AIS delivers cath-lab, 2D-echo, radiology images and Electronic Medical Record to a unified interface for the clinicians.

Cardiac consultants, interventional cardiologists and surgeons will get access to images from a wide variety of modalities at various stages during the assessment and treatment of the patient, improving their clinical decisions as well as the speed.

A conventional RIS/CIS/PACS implementation of this scale would have cost at least INR 3-4 cr (approx. USD 1m) at each hospital.    

Government promises health insurance for poor workers

The Govt. of India is bringing in a Health Insurance Scheme (HIS) for the unorganized sector workers who constitute 93% of the country's 400 million workforce; and who, because of low affordability take recourse to inadequate and incompetent medical treatment. The HIS would be implemented in phases. Initially workers living Below the Poverty Line (BPL) are to be covered in next five years.

The centre will allocate over INR 750 crore in 2008-09. Each year 120 districts across the country would be selected by the State Governments.

The beneficiary can avail healthcare facility at any of the notified hospitals without any cash transaction up to INR 30,000 p. a. for a family of 5, on floater basis. This comes at no cost to him as the estimated annual premium of INR 750 to be paid to the health insurance provider would be shared by the Central and State Governments in 75:25 ratio. Beneficiary would be issued a smart card costing INR 60, borne by the Central Govt. The card would be valid even if the worker migrates to another state.

The beneficiary would, have to pay INR 30 p. a. as registration/ renewal fee, in order to demand the service as a matter of right. All pre-existing diseases would be covered.

The NCT of Delhi is the first State to operate the Scheme to be followed by Maharashtra.

India's left demands separate ministry for pharma sector

Stating that the growth of the estimated 12-billion dollars Indian pharmaceutical industry has been hampered by multiple authorities, Communist Party of India (Marxist) has asked the government to create a separate ministry for the sector.

In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, CPI (M) leader Sitaram Yechury called for his intervention “to encourage this sunrise industry”.  Stressing that the large but fragmented Indian pharmaceutical sector has to deal with complex issues, he said it could be tackled by a specialised and dedicated administration.

GE Healthcare gets approval for India's first radiopharmacy centre

A unit of General Electric Co., GE Healthcare Technologies Ltd, has received approval from India's Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, for setting up the country's first radiopharmacy centre.

The centre, located at Noida near New Delhi, is expected to start operations this December. It will manufacture and sell so-called nuclear medicines used in patients for advanced diagnostics. Nuclear medicines, or radiopharmaceuticals, are isotopes that are injected in patients for taking images of the functioning of organs such as the heart, kidney and liver using advanced scanners and other imaging machines. This advanced diagnostic system helps to detect symptoms of diseases ranging from coronary artery to Alzheimer's.

Since making these isotopes involves radioactive components, a prior approval from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) was required. Indian hospitals and nuclear medicine centres import isotopes for scanning. Since these isotopes have a decay period of 6-72.5 hours, they lose at least half of their life by the time they can be administered to the patient. Hence, managing the logistics of imported isotopes has been difficult, and it has typically resulted in high overhead costs as well as a severe shortage.

GE is already a major player in the Indian diagnostic imaging systems market. It plans to open other such radiopharmacy centres in Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad in cooperation with large hospitals.

According to GE, setting up of such radiopharmaceutical centres will propel the market for nuclear medicine procedures in India to grow at a rate of 15-20% every year, up from 10% now. The Noida centre will cater to some 100 hospitals in the region. GE is also tying up with Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai and Healthcare Global at Bangalore to cater to these cities through a similar distribution channel.

More V-sat mobile units to connect hospital network from Space Telemedicine

Space Telemedicine, which has already networked with 57 leading hospitals in India, (including seven in Tamil Nadu), will soon launch 600 mobile V-Sat units, to connect the smallest towns with major super speciality hospitals across India, in what is claimed to be the largest telemedicine initiative in Asia.

The company will place 600 mobile V-Sats in Tier II and Tier III cities, towns, villages and remote areas, with the intent to move the clinical information rather than the patient. The concept, is that, depending on the need and availablity of specialists, the local general practitioner can choose from scheduled live interactive consultation, where the specialist is available at a pre-fixed time.

Besides on-demand live interactive consultations, during emergencies, there is also 'Store and Forward Consultations', where the local general practitioner forwards patient records and diagnostic test reports, receives specialist opinion and then gives the diagnoses to the patients at a later date. 

Free and Open Source Software to track epidemics like Chikungunya, Malaria, Dengue

A revolutionary new software developed by Zyxware Technologies (India) is about to change the way information is collected and processed in tracking diseases like Chikungunya, Dengue, Malaria. The software, has been dedicated to the nation as Free Software under the GNU General Public License (GPL).

The software is web based and allows Hospitals to report cases of diseases as soon as the case is registered at the hospital. The software seamlessly integrates with the existing manual process by allowing hospitals that don't have any web access to send paper based reports to data entry operators who can enter them into the system or send soft copies of the reports that can be imported automatically.

The GIS interface uses Google maps to present the data on a real time basis on a map of the state, and presents reports that can be used by the Health Department to monitor the situation on a real time basis and take precautionary measures if required.

The software has been released as Free and Open Source Software to promote the fact that it is possible to develop state of the art software at very low costs.

Private angle to Govt's low-cost healthcare for masses

Private healthcare giants such as the Apollo Group and Wockhardt Hospitals are entering into partnerships with various state governments to provide healthcare services.

One such example Wockhardt, is looking at delivering primary and secondary healthcare, particularly through select bio-medical services, wherein they will offer back-end support through pathology labs and diagnostic facilities within a government hospital. It will leverage on high volumes to scale down costs.

The idea is to support government healthcare system from the back end. The private sector would offer services in areas like diagnostics, where they would operate and maintain medical equipment at government-owned hospitals.

This will be done without tinkering with the government's healthcare budget and at the same time, improving the delivery of health services. The target will be low-and middle-income groups. The tab will be picked up by the state government.   

SRIT forms a JV Company in Australia

Sobha Renaissance Information Technology (SRIT) have announced its Joint Venture (JV) with Capital Technic Group (CTG), an Australian  Management Consulting & Services firm. 

The joint-venture capitalized at Australian $2.5m aims to produce $7.5m in annual revenues by the second year and ramp  up to $65m by the fifth.

The joint-venture, Sobha CTG Solutions Australia Ptv. Ltd., will launch SRIT's products and services in the Australasian markets, while SRIT will enhance the growth of CTG's consulting services in the realm of ICT.

Structured as a 50:50 JV, Sobha CTG Solutions Australia Pty Ltd. aims to enter the Australasian ICT markets in a cross section of areas including healthcare. While the joint venture company has been registered as Sobha CTG Solutions Australia Pty Ltd, the trade name has been set as, 'Sobha CTG Solutions'.

This JV would also create career opportunities for high-end ICT personnel from both, India and Australia. As an integral part of their commitment, CTG would identify knowledge and technology transfer opportunities to SRIT in the territory. CTG would also guide the JV Company on accessing Australian Federal Government R&D and other investment incentives. Induction of an Australian General Manager and other senior resources for the JV is already in process. 

Fortis, Microsoft promise better healthcare through technology

Fortis has entered into an agreement with Microsoft India to deploy solutions and services based on the Microsoft platform aimed at enhancing knowledge management and productivity.

Based on the 4P vision of healthcare – Prevention, Prediction, Personalization and Participation, Microsoft solutions will enable Fortis Healthcare collaborate on various processes online using best-in-class Office and Exchange applications. The focus will be towards making documents, workflows, projects and performance management available on a common SharePoint portal available to Fortis employees, doctors and nurses across all its centers. The deployment of the solutions will bring together diverse patient data from multiple sources and make it instantly available at the point of care, thereby enhancing productivity and most importantly, patient care.

Fortis claims that the Enterprise Agreement enables it to streamline their group-wide investment and leverage best collaborative solutions. It also allows them to scale up without worrying about software management and focus more on healthcare technology.

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