Volume 11 - Issue 01
January 2013
Other Articles

'Like' us on Facebook Follow us: facebook twitter vimeo youtube
Font Size
Posted on : Jan 17, 2013

Implementing IT to Enhance Quality of Patient Care

First International Healthcare IT End Users' Conference
at SSSIHMS, Bangalore





part 1 First International Healthcare IT End Users' Conference  at SSSIHMS, Bangalore First International Healthcare IT End Users' Conference  at SSSIHMS, Bangalore part 2 First International Healthcare IT End Users' Conference  at SSSIHMS, Bangalore part 3 First International Healthcare IT End Users' Conference  at SSSIHMS, Bangalore part 4 part 5 First International Healthcare IT End Users' Conference  at SSSIHMS, Bangalore


Next on the agenda was the address by the chief guest, Mr. ISN Prasad. An IAS (Indian Administrative Service) officer from the 1986 batch of the Karnataka cadre, he has served India in both Central and State Governments in various administrative capacities.

Of the numerous administrative positions Mr. Prasad has held, the most notable are Director, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources, New Delhi; CEO, Special Economic Zone, Mangalore; Chief, Project Office, Public Works Department; Managing Director, Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation; and Principal Secretary to Chief Minister of Karnataka, Personnel and General Administration.

Mr. Prasad currently holds the position of Principal Secretary – IT and BT, Govt. of Karnataka. He is one of those distinguished bureaucrats who have been relentlessly practicing the teachings of Bhagawan Baba.

In his keynote address, Mr. Prasad paid rich compliments to the hospital for not only its high level of IT implementation but also its cash-free services. He also gave an interesting insight on how healthcare has evolved over the years and the inevitable use of IT in today's world. Here are a few snippets of what he said:

Texte alternatif

“My pranams to Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Let me begin with a salute to this hospital. In my experience, I have never come across an institute like this which has a spiritual and a religious background but is not shy of technology and modern medicine and then does not bill on top of it. It has a very unique combination which I'm yet to come across to this degree anywhere else that I have been exposed to and I would like to compliment and salute this institute. And as Dr. Voleti said, they have already reached the level 6 which is highly admirable.

  First International Healthcare IT End Users' Conference  at SSSIHMS, Bangalore
  Dr. Bharadwaj, the Director, welcoming the guests during the inaugural session

“We all know that technology and IT in particular has been playing an increasingly important role in healthcare across the world and there have been numerous success stories where this has played a part. If you see the way the psychology of the whole thing would have evolved, many, many years back when there was no healthcare, success in healthcare meant just grace of God.

“Then, slowly over the years, people added grace of God and the skill of the doctors. Slowly, we had this whole bunch of psychologists in the western world who said ‘No, it's the patient's will power and positive thinking’. And now, we have the fourth ingredient which is technology.

“While over the years technology has evolved and in this evolution process we have seen some near-miraculous changes compared to what we had witnessed earlier, there have always been a group of people who have been also questioning the extent of technology and the kind of things it brings in terms of impersonality. But despite whatever they say, we don't have any escape from the fact that we need technology. In geometric progression, it will probably increase over the coming decades and we will be witnessing this. So, we need to be ready for it; we need to accept it and work around it and use it for the best cause of human good.”

Thus, Mr. Prasad emphasised the inevitable use of technology in modern times. He then went on to talk about the challenges of IT implementation, the first being change management – to make the doctors and nurses use computers, which is quite a hurdle.

The other important impediment is the cost factor. He quoted an instance wherein a congressional delegation from US that visited Bangalore recently was more worried about decreasing the financial burden for the hospital and the patient, because more technology means more costs unless it is Bhagawan Baba's hospital where the patient is never charged. In other cases, more technology invariably translates into more cost to the patient and this delegation wanted to explore avenues to overcome this challenge.

The chief guest next moved on to give an example of the use of IT in Karnataka for mother and child care and how the Govt. of India has taken this up as a nation-wide program.

Texte alternatif

Mr. ISN Prasad, Principal Secretary - IT and BT, Govt. of Karnataka  

“I would like to just spend a couple of minutes on the government sector. I'll take Karnataka to start with. Always, adoption of technology has never been easy in the government sector. We have a set of challenges before us. Change management has never been easy and we still keep trying.

“One of the things I wanted to mention about the Karnataka Health Department is – they have put a mother-and-child tracking system right from the initial pregnancy stages. It's got a mobile application where the ANMs (Auxiliary Nurse Midwife) and the ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) workers get an alert. Then, they can feed immediately when is the first round of the immunisation, nutrition levels, etc. That has done in fact very well and the Government of India has taken it up now as a national program.

“Of course, the health department is also doing not really on patient care; they run something like 40 programs across the state which are monitored. Now, all that is computerised and everything is fed only at the PHC (Primary Health Centre) level. So, there is no other entry at the intervening level.

“Therefore, we are able to get more consistent data, but still the government sector has a long, long, long way to go on application of IT and we need to learn from institutions like this.

“I would be requesting all of you present here to please let us know how we can work together with you on improving the IT applications and technology use in the government sector. We also need hand-holding because it's not just a question of knowledge; it's a question of managing the entire change process.”

Mr. ISN Prasad stressed on the need to reengineer the processes and systems in hospitals to match the technology. This is called business process re-engineering and is taught in management schools. He said the three main challenges for the implementation of IT in healthcare systems are change management, business process re-engineering, and manpower. While reflecting on what is happening in Baba's hospital in these areas, he expressed his satisfaction that some of these issues have been tackled well. He also conveyed his optimism that this conference was a good start in many ways.

Texte alternatif

“I am very happy to see that in this institute, they have managed to overcome some of these issues because the entire business process and the change management I think is working out well because they have got hospital managers with MBA kind of a background and technical background and the doctors working together; I think that is where the success has been. This is not an easy thing.

“You can just buy the technology or buy the software and in most other cases, this is what happens. You get the technology but you are not able to manage the rest of it to have optimal use of the technology. I once again compliment this hospital. May I thank Dr. Bharadwaj for not only calling me, but may I appreciate the fact that you put together this workshop. I'm very sure that something very productive will come out of today's deliberations. Thank you.”

In his exclusive interview to Radio Sai's Bishu Prusty, Mr. ISN Prasad first shared his impressions about the Whitefield Hospital and the conference.

Texte alternatif

“I am simply amazed at the degree and intensity of application of IT in this wonderful institute founded by Bhagawan. In fact, I was amazed to know that you are rated at level 6 and not more than 0.01% of the hospitals in the world have this kind of a rating. It's really an end-to-end solution and a 360-degree view of the patient, because it's extremely patient-friendly and without any commercial consideration.

“I rate this as probably the highest benchmark which other hospitals and other healthcare givers should aspire for. This is the best model you have where there's a wonderful integration between the technical component, the clinical component as well as the administration wing. It's not easy to come across this kind of integration in any other institute. It's been an honour to realise this and to be a part of today's workshop.


“Lot of IT companies don't know the amount of good work which this hospital is doing. Somehow, the hospital over the years has been very shy of publicity and I was suggesting to the Hospital Administration that it's time that more information is put out in the public domain so that others know. Most people think it's a religion-backed institute or a Swami-sponsored institute and therefore they are doing free work and charity and so on.

“They don't realise that this is a very professionally run hospital with some of the best doctors and very highly skilled professionals working and with state-of-the-art technology being used. The professional part of the hospital is hardly known outside; that needs to be told to people. I think today's workshop is one of the first steps they have taken in IT-specific segment of the hospital's administration that they are sharing with other people and maybe other aspects can be shared over a period of time.

“This hospital to me represents one of the highest aspirations that any other institutions can hope for. It sets a benchmark which is so high because it comes together with a high degree of motivation, high degree of professionalism and absolutely no commercial gain or no commercial interests. To me, it represents an ideal way of running an institution very well – very tightly run and very professionally run institution which has all the good things of the top-end hospitals of the world without the commercial side of it.

“This hospital represents a futuristic model and a societal model which it will be hard to emulate. It's not impossible and with Swami's grace, this can be done by others, I am sure. As I was mentioning in today's talk, even in the western countries now, it's become a matter of serious concern – the kind of high health budgets that they have been running up. In a country like India with a huge population base and with our kind of economic level of poverty, etc., this is the best model to ever work.

“The scalability and replicability will not be easy, but certainly something we should all be working for. To start with, if somebody puts up a similar hospital with well-managed systems and even charge for it, that itself is an improvement. I am not even talking about not charging or subsidised charging; that's the next best thing, but what I'm trying to say is that even if they are charging, can they offer this kind of a service? Can they offer this kind of professionalism, this kind of a holistic care? That itself will be a huge win even if they charge for it.

“The better way to do is if all the other hospitals can run at least a part of the patients on this model. The service and the care should be equal to all, like you do in this hospital; the billing and non-billing, that kind of a ratio can be maintained and there can always be a percentage of patients they will not charge at all. But they should ensure that they give them the same service as they're giving the highest-paying patient. Healthcare without compassion is... I don't know whether it is really healthcare; it's health business.”

Mr. ISN Prasad then shared about Bhagawan Baba's impact on his life and his idea on how Swami's teachings are shaping the future of the world.

“I am singularly fortunate that I am born in a family which was already familiar with Baba. For me, that was not an issue and as a child also, I was visiting Puttaparthi very frequently. But then, one interesting thing is that I sort of just inherited Swami, but He meant emotionally not much to me. Subsequently, something happened in early '90s.

“Till then, I used to go to Puttaparthi very often more out of habit or because my grandparents used to live there – more to see them rather than to see Swami. Then, Swami did something in '90s when I was feeling very disturbed about whether I should continue in service or not. For the first time, I actually prayed to Swami and after that, there's been no looking back. He has taken care of me like a mother would take care of a baby. After that, it's completely changed my relationship with Swami and I feel His presence almost every day.

“The kind of job I am in, I face many times lot of tough issues and there are tough decisions to make; sometimes, the situation is very tricky and can also border on becoming into a controversy. All we would do was just pray to Swami or just think of Him and somehow things come out right.

“My wife who is also my colleague in the IAS has had similar experiences and we both feel that but for Swami, we wouldn't have even survived. Personally, I believe that me and my wife are in the service again because Swami must have willed it; there would be a purpose. Towards that end, we keep trying to work; rest is Swami's grace on how much we achieve.

“I have a feeling that more and more people will be taking to Swami in a very big way. His message and His vision have become even more relevant with increasing problems in material life. Swami continuously has been encouraging love for all, character building and peace – all human values which are everlasting. I think the need will never go and Swami's presence will be felt very strongly; I have a feeling the crowds will only increase. I don't think any extra effort needs to be put to bring the people together. That may not work really and that may not last, whereas what will last and what will work is the word-of-mouth message that keeps circulating among the Sai fraternity.

“Many times, one finds it rather difficult to keep up optimism but then every time you hit that low, you also see a lot of good things happening. I do believe that there has to be a day when things will change and will change for the better. While it's happening in parts and in bits and pieces, we need to do much more. Despite all the deterioration one sees, good things also will happen and in that hope, we all work. Source of strength is Swami to put it metaphorically or emotionally, and also the underlying values which Swami also has been saying – that gives us the optimism. Swami's motto is ‘Love all and Serve all’. If you believe even partly with that motto, that itself is motivator enough; if you love all, then you serve all.

“It has been a wonderful experience to look around and be in the hospital today. It's one of the most exemplary hospitals that I have come across and as a model, it'll set one of the highest benchmarks ever in any hospital in the world. That is a statement which I make with all earnestness and seriousness. Today's workshop is a very, very good starting step to begin sharing this knowledge and helping others to emulate this successful model.”

Thus, visiting the hospital and becoming aware of the level of work going on was indeed a revealing experience for the Principal Secretary, Govt. of Karnataka in charge of IT and BT. One hopes that the philosophy of healthcare practiced in the Sai hospitals percolates to many more institutions not only in India but also in many countries of the world.


- Team Radio Sai


counter for wordpress