Interview

Appropriate use of technology for the benefit of patients is most desirable : Dharminder Nagar, MD, Paras Hospital

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What was the guiding force behind your venture in building the ultra-modern and highly sophisticated Paras hospital?

The guiding force for this venture has been my father Sh. Vedram Nagar who instilled in us beliefs and values which are reflected in the hospital. He saw social responsibility as a part of good business practice rather than something separate from it. Healthcare is one area where you can have the perfect blend of business and social responsibility, when the same is carried out honestly.

To begin with, what was your strategy in terms of investing in technology and IT in your hospital?

Evolving a successful IT strategy for healthcare is one of the biggest challenges for any new or even existing healthcare providers today. The challenge is enormous when you are looking for the best IT and technology solution for your needs; as the solutions and platforms that are available today are simply mind boggling, ranging from homegrown solution providers to the worlds leading IT and technology providers.

Instead of going through the maze of what providers were offering, we started out with our Chief Technology Officer, Mr. Prashant Singh to pen our needs. To begin with, we identified the stakeholders in this process – from doctors, nurses and technicians in clinical departments, to people working in administration and finance. We
looked at the patient flow and our process flow for determining the amount of IT and technology interface that was needed. We also determined what would be desirable if there were no budgetary constraints and how much incremental productivity would be achieved through desirable solutions. With several rounds of discussions we prepared a document that reflected what we needed and how we saw the path of technology and IT in our hospital over the next few years.

What is the current level of automation in your hospital in terms of IT implementation in patient servicing, administrative and clinical operations?

As part of our strategy we have started the IT implementation without capturing clinical operations and covering all other areas like OP-IP billing, admissions, transfer discharge, pathology & machine integration, diagnostics, payroll, MRD, inventory management etc.

How challenging was the vendor selection process, particularly, while choosing the HIS solution? What parameters did you evaluate during the selection process?

Selection of an HIS vendor is a challenging job. Before actually selecting the vendor we formulated the business objectives and key indicators, which we tried to observe in the HIS presentation and consequently the gap analysis. Number of existing clients of the  solution provider was also one of the important criteria of selection.

Which vendor did you partner with for your HIS and what has been your experience with them so far?

We have partnered with ‘Akhil Systems Pvt Ltd’ for implementing HIS and so far the support has been time bound and appropriate. The best part is that they have worked as a partner, rather than just a vendor. Most importantly, they have been open to suggestions from the hospital towards betterment of the system, and at the same time they kept firm in their principals.

What returns-on-investment are you enjoying and/or foresee in the near future for your IT investments – in both qualitative and financial terms?

By implementing IT and different automation practices we have gained tremendous satisfaction and increased efficiency different departments. It has also helped in delivering a high level of job satisfaction among our doctors and employees.

In financial terms, we could achieve the minimum level of inventory by practicing different inventory automation for stock analysis. Different analytical MIS reports were used for departmental analysis in financial terms and further actions/targets.

What are the cutting-edge medical technologies and facilities that you are offering across departments and super specialties?

At Paras, we believe that appropriate use of technology for the benefit of patients is most desirable in order to provide the best and most reasonable healthcare services. We have the most modern diagnostic department with services ranging from MRI, CT Scan, Mammography, to the most advanced Colour Doppler and Ultrasound machines. In all our specialized branches like neurosurgery, we have most advanced microscopes to intra-operative TCD. Now we have also connected our OT’s to our auditorium for live demonstrations.

What percentage of your annual budget is allocated for IT and technology purchase?

Currently, it is around 1%. However, we believe that this is bound to rise in the future as we increase the number of hospitals under the Paras umbrella. We will have to integrate all the hospitals in different locations seamlessly.

What is your comment in terms of the need for standardization in capturing, usage and sharing of medical records across service providers and development of a national health information exchange?

This will help immensely and should be implemented at the earliest. But, it will be effective only if it becomes a mandatory compliance issue. From patients’ perspective this is highly desirable and necessary, as it will help them keep track of there medical records and have controlled over their own treatments. This, I believe, will only happen through legally binding requirements for all the service providers.

What is your wish list in terms of government intervention for facilitating the growth of healthcare industry in India?

The government needs to give healthcare the infrastructure status that has been a long pending demand of the healthcare industry. We need the government to take active part in developing social and medical insurance for all groups; by either directly offering medical insurance or subsidizing the same for the poorest, or even enforcing medical insurance as a mandatory requirement.

The government needs to create incentives for providers through mechanisms of tax breaks, so as to enable them to offer subsidised healthcare for the poor. At the same time, there should be strict vigil and enforcement on all commitments made by providers on the basis of which tax concessions are to be availed.

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