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Emerging Tech Trends in Healthcare Technology Space

Mitali Biswas, CIO, CK Birla Hospitals

In her extensive career spanning over 26 years, Mitali has been associated with companies such as ABP, PricewaterhouseCoopers and IBM across diverse capacities, prior to joining CK Birla Hospitals in 2020.

In a recent conversation with Keerthana H K (Correspondent, CIO Insider), Mitali shared insights on various aspects surrounding the healthtech space in today’s context. Below are few key extracts from the exclusive interview –

Could you shed light on the latest technology interventions disrupting the healthcare industry?
Traditionally, the healthcare sector in India was not so tech-savvy and lagged behind technology adoption. However, this scenario has undergone a thorough metamorphosis today, wherein post Covid, we are witnessing a heightened focus on technology by the healthcare sector. This is due to a shift in the mindset with most people believing that technology can make a huge difference in the way healthcare is delivered across the country. There are a host of technologies that the healthcare industry must adopt to overcome challenges that are hindering the sector. The most prominent technology in this regard is Artificial Intelligence, which has the capability to improve both operational and clinical efficiency of healthcare organizations.

Similarly, IoT is helping immensely in the remote monitoring of patients in both hospitals and at home. Additionally, IoT is enabling doctors to efficiently handle diverse variety of chronic diseases such as diabetes. While there are a lot of technologies that are being leveraged by the healthcare industry today, the foundation for all of them is the cloud. Cloud provides a lot of flexibility and speed in implementing these technologies and serves as a foundation layer. Thus technologies like AI, IoT and Cloud have a huge potential to benefit the Healthcare sector.

Suggest a few measures to be taken to ensure high availability and disaster recovery in a cloud-

based healthcare environment.
The first step towards ensuring high availability and disaster recovery in any healthcare setup is to identify the business-critical applications. For instance, the HIS (Healthcare Information System) which takes care of the entire patient journey – right from registration, to billing, treatment and discharge is the most business critical application. The next step is to define the RTO and RPO based on the business need and balancing the cost. There are different strategies which can be adopted based on the deployment architecture. If your application is on cloud, you can think of another data center which is in another seismic zone, or even think of having it on premise instead of cloud. The locations in which you have your operations also play a key role in deciding this aspect. Successfully balancing between your strategy, your requirement and the associated costs is paramount for ensuring high availability and disaster recovery in any healthcare setup. Lastly, pay close attention to have automated timely backups and conduct regular drills to test the effectiveness of your disaster recovery plan.

Tell us about a few aspects every healthcare business must keep in mind while selecting a cloud service provider.
While moving to the cloud, every healthcare organization must consider the number, type and location of users for accessibility. If it allows to be accessed only from within the hospital and limited to a very few users, then cloud is not the right option for you. Since there are a lot of infrastructure upgrades that are needed while moving to cloud, cost is another key aspect that the organization must consider while selecting a cloud service provider. Choosing the right partner for cloud migration is also key. One needs to make sure that the partner has both technical and domain experience and understands the challenges.

Successfully balancing between your strategy, business requirement and the associated costs is paramount for ensuring high availability and disaster recovery in any healthcare setup.

Briefly explain the importance of data quality in healthcare analytics.
Since the basics of any analytics process is data, it is important to make sure that the data being captured is of proper quality. The lack of proper data quality leads to inefficient analysis, resulting in deriving the wrong insights that could misguide your decision-making process. Also, you need have a clearly defined use case including objectives around analytics, rather than merely implementing it. Building the right data layer and governance is the foundation before you start on your analytics journey.

How should the industry stay compliant with data privacy regulations while using cloud services?
There are a lot of regulatory guidelines that every healthcare business must follow regarding data security and privacy. As a result, careful data security measure must be built-in at all levels and not just be limited to cloud, network, application or end user levels. Most often, human errors are the weakest link while maintaining the compliance. Hence, healthcare organizations must conduct regular training and user awareness sessions to ensure that the data is accessed and shared in the most careful way.

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