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Cloud telephony today plays a key role in strengthening healthcare infrastructure

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Chaitanya Chokkareddy, CIO, Ozonetel in an interaction with Kalyani Sharma talks about the role of cloud telephony as an important technology in strengthening healthcare infrastructure

Please tell us about Ozonetel and the company’s role during COVID-19?

With the onset of COVID- 19, a number of call centers across the country had to move to a remote-working model in a matter of hours. For all our clients enabling this work-from-home using our cloud technology was simple. However, we played a critical role in helping new clients set up cloud call centers and migrate thousands of agents to a remote working model. We also launched our mobile app for call center agents who did not have access to desktops to log in. But our most important contribution was to help state governments set up their COVID-19 helplines, sometimes in 72 hours or less.

Can you throw some light on the role of Cloud Telephony in strengthening healthcare infrastructure during COVID-19?

Cloud telephony today plays a key role in strengthening healthcare infrastructure for pharma companies, online pharma retail, telemedicine, and the setup of helplines. Most online pharma businesses use cloud telephony to power their call centers These call centers are primarily for customer service and to facilitate communications between their customers and doctors for prescriptions. When call volumes spiked due to the onset of COVID, these businesses could easily manage thanks to the scalability and callback automation offered by cloud call center technology.

With thousands of people across the country testing for COVID, pathology labs were another healthcare service that faced a huge spike in call volumes. These labs used cloud telephony IVRs to offer self-service options and were able to automate replies to 40-60% of the calls, most of which were inquiries regarding lab report results and status. With the onset of COVID and the formal recognition of Telemedicine by India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, many hospitals and doctors began using cloud telephony solutions to power their telephonic consultations.

But most significantly, cloud telephony played a key role during last year’s pandemic for the quick setup of COVID helplines. These helplines set up via the Project Step One initiative, and by State governments across the country, helped disseminate accurate information and provide first-level support to patients across the country. In some cases, these helplines used IVRs to respond to inbound queries, and in other cases, they used dialers to automate outbound calls to check in with home quarantined COVID patients. Cloud technology ensured that these emergency helplines could be set up in 24 to 72 hours flat.

What are your views on the adoption & acceptance of technologies like AI in healthcare, specifically in India?

Thanks to the large campaigns done by Google, IBM and Microsoft, AI in healthcare is in a very good spot in India. Many players in the healthcare sector want to try AI solutions to see if they can serve their patients better. The technology is also improving though it still has some ways to go. The trick is to not think of AI as a replacement technology, but instead think of it as an “assistive” technology. For instance, the use of AI and big data for diagnosis, decision-making, and even surgical support is making huge headway. The same technology can be used for chatbot-based medical services. However, it is likely that this may face far more adoption and compliance issues. In India, affordability is another issue. For instance, while AI-based wearables such as smartwatches can prove useful for early diagnosis, monitoring, and alerts, this technology cannot be easily afforded by most of the Indian population.

What according to you are the major gaps that need to be filled as far as healthcare IT in India is concerned?

The biggest gap to be filled is the data protection laws. Strict laws have to be in place to protect patient data. Once these laws are in place, patients will trust sharing their data with healthcare IT companies. International laws such as the US-based HIPAA compliance are useful templates to follow in order to ensure patient privacy especially as data is shared across technology platforms.

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