Breach of patient information threatens continuity of healthcare enterprises: Leela Kaza, Accolite CEO

Leela Kaza, CEO, Accolite talks about the significance of HIPPA compliance in the healthcare sector and also on how hospitals are gradually becoming more focused on enhancing customer experience rather than just providing treatment. 

The digitization wave is gradually engulfing India's healthcare sector and thereby bringing in new opportunities and challenges.  Leela Kaza, CEO of Accolite throws light on upcoming trends in the healthcare sector and also highlights how software can help IT leaders deal with compliance issues.

How does a healthcare CIO address privacy concerns to ensure compliance with regulatory regimes like HIPPA?

Privacy and security concerns are key when it comes to HIPAA. One of the critical elements of this process is ensuring that the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) systems are compliant with HIPAA security standards. This has become a mandate in US and hopefully, it will soon be the case in India too. EMR systems have changed the way patient information is collected and stored, and are a critical part of the decision making process. In countries like US, thanks to EMR systems and HIE (Health Information Exchange), if you are in a specific geography, updated patient information (history of illness, medication, etc.) is digitally stored and made readily available to all the concerned physicians and doctors in that area, whenever they require it. This brings uniformity to medical records, ensuring efficient and accurate care.

If adopted in India, this has the potential to revolutionize the healthcare sector. Another extremely important and upcoming field in the healthcare sector is analytics. The sector is under constant pressure to reduce costs and improve outcomes, and Analytics can play a huge role here.  Insights gained from analytics can be applied to ensure effectiveness as well as efficiency across all healthcare processes be it preventive care based on data analyzed from patients’ family history, food habits, previous illnesses etc. or improving operations and service delivery. In fact globally, owing to analytics, healthcare is increasingly moving towards preventive care.

Healthcare systems are mostly distributed across large campus environments, in that case how does IT heads ensure proper availability and seamless connectivity through software?

Healthcare sector is today becoming digitally driven, fueled by the need to be patient centric and improve efficiency. Cloud computing combined with Analytics has the ability to change the way healthcare sector operates today. More and more organizations today are realizing the need to adopt cloud to simplify their IT processes, improve usability and increase collaboration.  A robust private cloud infrastructure ensures seamless integration of all systems across a hospital.

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Protecting critical patient data and ensuring that the patient information is constantly updated through software, is another area where cloud can play an integral role. Moving to a cloud owned by a vendor can take away the hospital’s headache of constant updation. The vendor can also facilitate creation of an app environment in the cloud, thereby providing the hospital easy access to all relevant apps at any point in time, which is extremely cost effective as well.

What according to you can seriously damage business continuity of a healthcare enterprise?

Privacy and security of patient health information is topmost priority of all healthcare organizations. HIPAA holds physicians accountable for their patients’ Protected Health Information (PHI). Sending across patients demographic or any other information over unsecured emails, leaving health records unattended, communicating with other physicians or vendors through unsecured means, are some of the things that pose serious threats to business continuity of a healthcare enterprise. All organizations need to take specific steps and ensure compliance at all times, to secure PHI, which is one of the most critical components of the healthcare sector. 

Can you sight an example where your customers have successfully addressed a few of the above challenges by using your solutions?

Providing real time data resulting in business benefits in terms of ROI, is a major value that our solutions bring to the table. Our Bed Portal Application is a key example of this. As we all are aware, beds are one of the key commodities that hospitals sell. Hence, managing bed allocations, while at the same time increasing revenue from beds becomes extremely important.  Our application helps optimize the process of managing beds in an efficient manner, simultaneously ensuring surge in revenues.

Now doctors are using mobility devices to track and access patient records, what will be next? In other words how will healthcare technology look like going ahead?

Healthcare sector is extremely dynamic and constantly evolving owing to factors like technology advancements, cultural shifts, regulatory landscape, etc. to name a few. One of the emerging trends today is telemedicine, which is essentially use of technology to provide healthcare remotely, eliminating barriers of distance. Owing to telemedicine, patients now no longer need to leave the comfort of their homes to get access to the best doctor’s real time. They can simply get on to a webcam, speak to a doctor of their choice, irrespective of where both the patient and doctor are located, and get real time consultation. 

The second trend which is on the rise is home health care services, wherein doctors or physicians visit the patients at their homes for checkup and diagnosis. This is extremely beneficial especially for senior citizens, and has a huge potential. Another trend, which is much needed as well, is the focus on preventive cares opposed to reactionary treatment which we have in place today.

Prevention can not only reduce the risk factors that lead to various diseases, but also improve overall health and reduce health care costs or spending. Focus on proper diagnosis and treatment is also gaining more importance than ever before.

In US norms have surfaced owing to technology advancements which restrict a hospital from asking for money if a patient gets admitted for the same health issue for which he or she might have been already treated earlier in the same place. This is a very effective way to penalize hospitals so as to ensure that a patient is being treated properly. This along with predictive analytics is where the future of healthcare lies.