With over 22 years of experience in leading, planning, project management and service delivery, Vishal Gupta has evolved into an outcome-driven healthcare technologist. He currently heads the IT department at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, where he has been instrumental in driving key analytical initiatives into its working. He is also tasked with driving efficient and accurate management of information systems in a fast-paced, deadline-driven environment.
Analytics India Magazine caught up with Gupta to understand the adoption of analytics in Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, and the way ahead.
Analytics India Magazine: How is Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals integrating analytics with its practices? How has analytics-driven journey been so far?
Vishal Gupta: There has been a lot of buzz about big data and data analytics in the last few years, but very few healthcare organisations have been able to realise its full potential. Analytics is undoubtedly one of the driving factors in the healthcare industry today and there is a lot of focus as to how analytics combined with technology can impact the way how healthcare is delivered around the globe. At Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, the journey of analytics initially had a bumpy ride, but gradually it has paved a smooth way for the times to come and I can confidently say that exciting times are ahead.
AIM: Please tell us about a specific use case in analytics that has brought significant value to the hospital.
VG: One of the recently implemented projects in analytics is the smart digital display screens deployed in the OPDs of Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals. It’s a public display system equipped with cameras which can provide us analytical insights of the footfall in each of the OPDs, be it from the comparative assessment from one OPD to another or from a hospital unit perspective. Being equipped with such granular data empowers us to know our guests better and to also provide relevant content on the display screens associated. Additionally, we have also implemented IBM Watson for Oncology and Microsoft AI in Cardiology, which has further equipped our clinicians with stronger analytical data, helping them make more informed and precise decisions, hence delivering the best of healthcare.
AIM: What are the analytics models at work in Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals? What kind of data is it built on?
VG: Broadly there are three types of analytics we use – Clinical, Financial and Operational. This analytics are inbuilt in our Hospital Information System and ERP systems. However, on top we use SQL based SSRS and Microsoft Power BI tool for further analytics that is required by the Management, Finance and Consultants, as the need to derive insights from trusted health data has never been greater.
The emergence of data-driven healthcare has presented tremendous opportunities as well as unprecedented challenges. Reducing healthcare costs while improving quality of care, handling complex, ever-changing demographics, and adapting to the rapid increase and globalisation of patient data are just a few of the realities facing healthcare providers, insurers, pharmaceutical companies and government entities today.
AIM: Indraprastha Apollo hospital recently announced the adoption of Watson for Oncology and Genomics. What are the ways in which it would streamline the processes and deliver other benefits?
VG: IBM Watson indeed has been one of the recent AI projects that we have undertaken and as on date it is being widely utilised by our oncologists. It is a cognitive computing platform and adoption of such technologies helps us to stay at the forefront when it comes to delivering the best of healthcare. This implementation will help our clinicians to surface relevant data to bridge disparate sources of information and identify treatments that are personalised to each unique patient. IBM Watson for Oncology complements the work of oncologists, supporting them in clinical decision-making by enabling them to access evidence-based, personalised treatment options from more than 300 medical journals, more than 200 textbooks, and nearly 15 million pages of text providing insight and comprehensive details on different treatment options, including key information on drug treatment selections. On the other hand, Watson for genomics helps to analyse massive bodies of genomic, clinical and pharmacological knowledge to help uncover potential therapeutic options to target genetic alterations in a patient’s tumour.
AIM: What does the technology stack at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals look like? What are major analytics and AI tools at disposal?
VG: The technology stack at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital boasts of an ISO 27001:2013 in-house tier 3 data centre comprising of more than 80+ High end physical servers and storage running best in class solutions ranging from Apollo Group’s proprietary HIS, in-house developed clinical and enterprise applications and the latest IBM Watson and Microsoft AI stacks for equipping the clinicians to deliver quality healthcare.
AIM: How has the use of analytics and new tech evolved in the healthcare sector in India? What are the major caveats in healthcare that analytics would help fill?
VG: Microsoft AI Network for Healthcare aims to maximise the ability of AI and cloud computing to accelerate innovation in the healthcare industry and improve the lives of people around the world. Introduction of this intelligent system in partnership with Apollo Hospitals is a huge step in this journey. Innovation in business intelligence and clinical intelligence is on the rise. With real-time analysis, it will become possible to access user-specific data and make changes as needed. With assisting technology like cloud computing running analytics, real-time data will become the norm thanks to low-cost infrastructure that is highly scalable.
AIM: Even though India has progressed in terms of technology in the past decade, there are major health issues such as low health standards, less medical awareness among rural population etc. Can these issues be mitigated across the country with the use of these technologies?
VG: Even with healthcare analytics being at an early stage worldwide, Indian hospitals and insurers have the opportunity to leapfrog the Western world when it comes to truly leveraging its power. For hospitals, healthcare analytics can impact multiple areas from customer acquisition to operational efficiency to clinical delivery. It can be the backbone of marketing teams to target and retain the right type of customers, help operations teams understand where the hospital truly excels in and where it needs to work on to achieve high-cost efficiencies. Unlike many software products that are essentially just data repositories and workflow managers, data analytics can enable a doctor to create a better outcome for the patient. Traditionally, most medical principles have been based on observations from a few hundred to a thousand people. The advent of digitisation, abundant computing power and new age machine learning models, will enable the formulation of principles from observations from millions of people, creating the foundation for personalised medicine.
AIM: What is the future roadmap for Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals in terms of analytics-driven journey?
VG: With National Health policy gradually coming into effect along with stringent guidelines of DiSHA (Digital Information Security in Health Care Act) in the offing, we can look forward to more effective usage of data analytics in times to come with a goal to strengthen healthcare delivery and advancement in the research centric to healthcare. Reducing readmission, studying high-risk patients and providing better services overall, requires predictive analysis which shows high potential in the healthcare industry in the years to come. Clinical data, quality data, and financial data can be aligned with the IT infrastructure to create better practice management systems and health information systems using predictive analysis models. The tools available and the data that is continuously being generated requires in-depth knowledge of the IT infrastructure, organisational priorities, staff, patient population and organisational structure. Predictive analysis will play a key role in healthcare infrastructure to fulfil these requirements.
AIM: Would you like to add anything?
While data analytics holds a lot of promise, it also faces certain challenges in the Indian ecosystem. Firstly, the talent needed in organisations to leverage data analytics is in limited supply. So any analytical solution needs to account for this and have a truly world-class usability for business users and offer shrink-wrapped solutions that demand little by way of deployment efforts. Secondly, most healthcare organisations including hospitals spend less than 1% of their budget on software technologies as they have not seen serious business value generated from such initiatives in the past. This will slowly get reversed as they start seeing a tangible value. As in any nascent industry, adoption will be gradual, beginning with early adopters and then to mass market. But there is no doubt that the field of health data analytics is one whose time has come and will create immense value to the entire ecosystem in the next decade.
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Srishti currently works as Associate Editor at Analytics India Magazine. When not covering the analytics news, editing and writing articles, she could be found reading or capturing thoughts into pictures.