Niranjan Ramakrishnan, CIO, Sir Gangaram Hospital on how healthcare industry is relying on Data Analytics

With a goal of building a health information exchange in India, Niranjan Ramakrishnan, currently the CIO at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, has served over 15 years in healthcare industry with a focus on IT. Managing several large projects in IT and ITES segment, he has delivered hospital solutions, physician practice management solutions, electronic medical record solutions, portable personal health record solutions, electronic health record solutions and much more.

By acquiring knowledge in various countries, he has worked extensively to implement best practises in India in terms of various healthcare solutions. He has a rich experience in using tools such as HL7 messaging, SNOMED, CIMS (Drug database) and DICOM etc. and specializes in generating creative concepts with commercial value, converting concepts into solutions that can be implemented and much more.

Some of the BI and analytics solutions that he has evaluated with great extent of understanding of the healthcare industry are Cittabase, Speedminer, Deepsee, Enlightiks and Qlik.


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In a candid chat with Analytics India Magazine, Ramakrishnan talks about the adoption of analytics in healthcare industry, how is Sir Ganga Ram Hospital using BI and analytics, challenges in adoption and much more.

Analytics India Magazine- How has the adoption of analytics been in the healthcare industry in India? What are the benefits it has brought to the industry?

Niranjan Ramakrishnan- Reviewing of the past information through MIS reports for taking future decisions was the trend for many years in the industry. Simple MIS to detailed analysis was made possible when data acquisition in a structured approach was adopted. Industry CXOs started understanding the complexity of healthcare data and the abundance value it can bring in to the business if analyzed properly. Thanks to Big data, Hadoop and other data management techniques that made data analytics in healthcare a new trend, that is now helping in stabilizing and standardizing the quality healthcare service.

AIM: How is Sir Ganga Ram Hospital utilizing BI and analytics? What benefits has it reaped at the organization?

NR- Sir Ganga Ram Hospital established and has been delivering quality healthcare services over last six decades with huge legacy but it had challenges like any other established organizations in dealing with complex Healthcare data for making meaningful clinical and business decisions. On top of the standard inbuilt reports, now the premier Hospital Information Management System delivers us a business analytical solution with near real time synchronization that enables the organization to slice and dice the data for quick decision-making.

AIM- Hospital Information Management System has delivered the hospital a business analytical solution?  What are the reasons that you chose it and what has been the benefits?

NR- It was not a planned decision to get BI & BAS bundled with HIS. Many good HIS (Indian based) particularly uses open source or custom build BI tools which has integration issues, synchronization time to deliver the reports, quality of predefined reporting and most importantly missing the easy to use by the end user without IT team support. So Hospitals get settled with MIS tools and custom developed BI tools. In our case, incidentally Intersystem released Deepsee which is on the same platform as Trakcare which is on CACHE. This real time integration and reporting made easy for the hospital to consider and adopt it.

No doubt that the independent Visual impact of new generation Business Analytical Solutions are extremely attractive and user friendly and all they have to do to get inroads in the healthcare is to clarify— (i) on premises instead of cloud to give assurance that the data privacy,  (ii) pre-configured reports as hospitals do not have time / skills to think through various meaningful analytical reports and the last but not the least and (iii) Integration with core HIS / ERP at very cost effective deal.

AIM: Would you like to tell us about the analytics and BI vendors, you take services from and what are the services they offer?

NR: As responded to the earlier question, BI tool is bundled with Hospital Information management system with seamless integration. It was our conscious decision not to use third party / cloud based BI tools unless the industry learns to adopt the data security and privacy with proper laws in place.  Frankly speaking, today organizations do not have that comfort of allowing third party BI tools to deal with our data even if it is on premises.

AIM- What are some of the major challenges of analytics adoption in healthcare industry in India? Would you like to highlight few challenges you come across at your hospital?

NR- As explained earlier, be it cloud or on premises, the BI tool solutions / organizations did not create that confidence and comfort of data privacy and security to larger organizations.  The fear factor that the data would be misused and may work against the organization in the heavily competitive industry. Adoption of BI tools would be commonly opposed by the business stakeholders as it brings out the balance score card based information and makes every stakeholder responsible for their deliverables, thus adds up to the resistance to the adoption. Also, Department heads and key champions tend to fear losing the importance of analyzing the data and management’s dependency on them for getting quick information.

AIM: With a large amount of patient data, what are the tools that come handy in storing these?  What are the challenges here?

NR- Average of half a million patient visits in a year builds few TB of data. However, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, being the pioneer of adopting Information System, almost for 15 years, hospital is in the capturing data in the structured format. We use one of the world’s top end Hospital Information System (Intersystem) which consistently scores topper in KLAS scoring that helps in storing large amount of the clinical information and retrieving them very quickly.

We were facing the challenges with the space constraint, volume of patients we need to deal with charity services and consultants time to feed the data in the system. Our OPD automation governed by SMARTOPD concept supported by IT partner mCURA helps in capturing the patient data in every OPD counter and giving instant access to the patient and consultants with the help of Clinical Secretaries with tablets in hand.

AIM: What is your roadmap/plans for analytics at your company in the future?

NR- We are very keen on working with customized BI solution that saves time and enables us to take much accurate decision with the integration of all the resources (Human, Money and Material) with activity based costing approach. CXO dashboards, key critical alerts for decision makers instead of too much of information, predictive analysis, outcome analysis and evidence based decision support system etc are in our roadmap.

AIM: How do you think ‘Analytics’ as an industry is evolving today? Could you tell us the most important contemporary trends that you see emerging in the present analytics space across the globe?

NR- I see mushroom of BI tools and analytics solutions (startups and larger organizations) approaching us but if they understand the challenges I have mentioned earlier and customize the solution for our industry including the market segments, Analytics has a huge role to play in the coming years. Good analytics tool can change the trend of the organization from people centric to process centric, preventing the organization from unexpected losses and errors in decision making thus saving expenses, and increasing the profit.

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Srishti Deoras
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.

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