CIO: How does one mitigate that problem?
Dr. Devi Shetty: It can be mitigated by introducing solutions which have the 'Wow' effect and which can be used by us without typing. Today, the technology is available to make it happen.
CIO: You have always been an advocate of low-cost healthcare. Where does IT figure in the scheme of things?
Dr. Devi Shetty: One cannot reduce the cost of healthcare without the use of IT. Actually, no service industry can reduce costs without the help of IT. IT is the matrix that holds the entire delivery system. IT cannot cure, but it can make healthcare safer for the patient.
For example, in the U.S., every year, close to 10,000 people die due to prescription errors. Hospitals must have a policy that prescriptions should be made only using specialized software that can make prescriptions. This is already available.
No doctor in this world has the presence of mind, round the clock, to calculate drug interaction accurately every single time.
We need the power of IT to reduce the cost of operations. Our IT initiatives give us a profit and loss account on a daily basis. Every day at 12 noon, our senior doctors/administrators get an SMS on their mobile with the previous day's revenue, expenses, and profit/loss margin.
As doctors, we know exactly what is happening with our organization. For us, looking at the P&L account at the end of the month is like reading a post-mortem report. You can't really do anything about whatever losses you have. But looking at the account on a daily basis is a diagnostic tool; you can take remedial measures. With doctors, you can't change their behaviour by preaching. You produce the data. You tell them exactly how many days the patient stayed there before the operation, how many days in the ICU, how many days post-op, and what the cost of material used for the operation was. All this information cannot be generated without the help of IT. Narayana Hrudayalaya has invested heavily in IT, and we are now reaping the benefits.
CIO: How has IT helped in the impressive expansion plans of Narayana Hrudayalaya?
Dr. Devi Shetty: First of all, I cannot think of the healthcare industry without IT. We have 17 hospitals spread across the country. I haven't even visited some of these after the inauguration. But I have a clue of their day-to-day proceedings. We have a complaint management system (CMS) that keeps track of all the problems a particular hospital faces in a day. We don't discourage complaints. We instead celebrate them. So, it helps me in calling out the bluff of the COO of a particular hospital if he says things are fine, while in reality, I know that there were 184 complaints registered that day.
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