For an advanced healthcare technology to be impactful, superior patient experience needs to be at the heart of all innovations. One of the important aspects of this experience is an effective mode of communication, says Shivakumar Ganesan, CEO and co-founder of Exotel
Q1. What are the most significant innovations that you see in healthcare technologies?
The Indian healthcare industry is considered as one of the largest sectors both in terms of revenue and employment. With the government pushing the Digital India and Smart Cities agenda aggressively, the sector has seen some varied innovations over the years, including implementations of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). In the present scenario, every Indian healthcare leader is looking at investing in solutions that can drive operational efficiencies and be able to deliver a personalized healthcare solution depending on the patient’s requirement. Wearable technology has been a game changer.
Superior patient experience is at the heart of all these innovations. One of the important aspects of this experience is an effective mode of communication. It is very important for the patient to be aware and kept in the loop through the entire process of receiving healthcare. It does not just keep the patient at ease, but also the institution as well as the caregiver. And that’s where cloud communication in healthcare comes into play. Exotel’s cloud telephony solution has helped enable this and create a positive patient experience in a variety of cases.
Q2. What challenges do you think are holding back Indian healthcare tech space to reach into global levels?
India has a population of 1.3 billion people. Despite the enormity of this, the country has 1 government hospital bed for every 2,046 individuals, 1 government doctor for every 10,189 people, and 1 state-run hospital for every 90,343 citizens respectively.
While we have start-ups trying to innovate with the use of technology in healthcare, we are still at the nascent stages of innovation. We need to not just look at the global arena but also look at solving problems that are unique to us in terms of the penetration of healthcare.
Q3. With mHealth and eHealth, how do you see the role of mobility technology initiatives and innovations growing in this sector?
Healthcare sector is expected to touch to reach 8.6 trillion by 2023, mHealth and eHealth will be catalysts to how healthcare is delivered in India. The government is also focusing on increasing the deployment of mHealth and eHealth to fight the ever-looming challenges of the current healthcare ecosystem – affordability and accessibility. In future, the interoperability of healthcare data among different IT systems is going to increase. This exchanged data will have the ability to interpret and acted upon by to improve the quality and accuracy of delivery of patient care.
With increasing customer demand effective communication will become more crucial. Keeping the patient abreast by sharing real-time updates makes the patient experience tension free.
Cloud telephony will help create a communication system that can work in tandem with the other systems here instead of creating a standalone system that only serves the purpose of dispensing or receiving information.
Q4. Do you think the need for data focused tech is being met in the Indian healthcare industry? What can be done to get it better?
Indian healthcare system has a lot of fragmented data that is currently not being put to use in a way that advance the way we look at patient care as well as research. Currently most hospitals and healthcare organisations do not have single source of patient information. When a system like this is put in place, it helps make massive advances in a variety of areas:
- Predicting patient needs – by analysing trends and looking at the history of a patient, a system should be able to predict preventive healthcare measure that improves the quality of patient care that is given.
- Improving research – broad trends and information will help greatly in the advancing the quality of research as well
- Remote healthcare – with the penetration of healthcare being far less than ideal, simple technology like calls and SMS can be used to spread information about healthcare and in dire cases even be used to provide medical advice for ailments.
Q5. How do you see communication technologies get an important role in this growth?
Communications is one space, where no organization would want to compromise. It is the backbone of any experience an organization has to offer. The case is no different when it comes to the healthcare industry. It is important for them to keep their patients in the loop at all times for a tension-free experience.
That’s how cloud telephony helps organizations, as it brings their communications to a timely system. Healthcare sector can now automate their IVR and through a smart routing system, transfer calls to the right agent. Through Exotel’s platform, they can also send in SMS reminders for next appointments, which will not just help in managing no-shows, but also establish the institution as a place which genuinely cares. Additionally, the institution can get automated feedback systems for collection patient feedback, information management system for updating patient records and lastly secure a consumer’s data, as the only information available to the technician is the last conversation with the patient.
Just to cite an example of a classic case here, Exotel works with a healthcare aggregator to revolutionize the way people connect with doctors. Integrating the CRM with Exotel helped them have all their customer data in one place, leading to a seamless experience. This platform also offers online consultation, the facility to order medicines online, etc. Using cloud telephony, they are able to make optimum use of calls & SMS through this entire process including connect patients to doctors and facilitating the delivery of medicines, etc.
Q6. What role do new technologies like cloud play in this evolution?
As with everything else in the history of humanity, organizations across sectors had to get through several stages of telephone evolution to get to the present-day cloud telephony system. Earlier businesses set up a huge box in their offices called the EPABX system. Currently, where computing and storage on the cloud have become very affordable, we looked to replace the devices with servers on the cloud which would enable communication in the organization. This is how we started Exotel and it has moved and changed rapidly from then.
The idea behind starting Exotel was to see if we could move communication from on-premise devices to the cloud, just how computing has moved from servers to the cloud. Today enterprise customer communication is moving to the cloud and Exotel is playing a major part in bringing more efficiency to the process with Cloud Telephony. Cloud Telephony is the technology that allows you to move your business phone system to the cloud. In other words, cloud telephony delivers all the smart solutions that EPABX system promised to give, and much more. It does so in a fraction of the cost and effort. It is the smartest way for any business to manage phone calls without compromising on quality and price.
Cloud telephony will be the norm because it is the more economical way to manage calls and the most efficient way. And I am sure, we will be at the forefront of this change.