May 2008

Connected Healthcare

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The Indian healthcare industry currently estimated at around US$ 34 billion is growing dynamically. In this growth, the private sector is taking the lead with more than 70% share of the market. The industry is currently going through a transition phase where on the one side there is a dearth in the number of facilities to serve the population adequately and on the other side, there is higher demand for quality care services. This has become a challenge for healthcare providers in the country. The healthcare system today is complex, with various stakeholders involved such as hospitals, insurance companies, diagnostic facilities etc. In addition, it is critical at this stage to standardise the processes of these industry stakeholders. 
 
The healthcare system generates enormous amounts of information everyday, and managing it is a big challenge for all the healthcare entities. Over time, healthcare entities have understood the value of technology-based systems to support their processes, functions, streamline operations and manage information generated. For this, all entities have made significant investments in IT in order to improve efficiency and productivity.  

Being part of the common system, all the entities interact with each other and share information at various stages, but this critical coordination process was not part of the IT applications being used by each. Their applications were designed such that they were not able to exchange information online on a common platform. The applications did not account the future need of data integration for the benefit of the consumer.  

Today, the consumer deals with different departments of various entities and some form of information related to the consumer is generated, but this largely remains in the individual facility's system unless a request for sharing it is received. Moreover, when the system has to share information with another entity it is mostly in a paper format.

These limitations need to be dealt with to enable doctors, patients and others to leverage the benefits of integrated information Systems. On a daily basis, healthcare organizations face a challenge of keeping medical records without compromising their privacy and security and maintaining them for the stipulated time (as required by law).
 
The Concept 

Today there are solutions in the market to deal with the complexities of managing huge amounts of information that is produced by a healthcare delivery system on a regular basis. The increasingly felt need to access all related medical information for the purpose of research, improve clinical outcomes and gain knowledge – is driving many IT majors to develop Integrated Healthcare applications.

The concept of a 'Connected Healthcare System' can be defined as an environment involving all the healthcare entities

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