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Driving better patient outcomes in India

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Tim Morris, Products and Partnership Director, Elsevier in an interaction with Sanjiv Das, gives an outlook on the Indian healthcare system and the company’s vision to help healthcare providers deliver higher quality care and better outcomes for patients

What are some key challenges and opportunities for India’s healthcare system?
The health of India’s population is marked by a “dual disease burden” – a continuing rise in communicable diseases alongside a spurt in non-communicable or “lifestyle” diseases. This means a growing demand for healthcare, which is placing immense pressures on India’s existing health infrastructure. At the same time, hospitals, particularly public providers, see high rates of hospital-acquired infection, which are often fatal even though avoidable. This is driven by irregular adherence to practice bundles, lack of administrative and financial support, hospital overcrowding and low doctors-to-patients ratio. Beyond these challenges, the Indian healthcare system has long been characterized by high out-of-pocket expenses due to low government spending. According to the National Health Policy (NHP) 2017, over 63 million persons are pushed to poverty every year due to healthcare costs.

With PM Narendra Modi’s recent announcement of the new National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS) however, it is evident that the Indian government is serious about providing affordable healthcare for more Indians nationwide. While cost and coverage of care seems to be at the heart of this initiative, it is important that raising the quality of care in India remains a joint priority.

While the government’s push for national electronic medical records (EMR) adoption is a step in the right direction, EMR alone has limited impact in reducing medical errors and improving outcomes. Including Clinical Decision Support (CDS) Solutions in clinical workflows gives EMR the power to guide healthcare professionals in making the right, evidence-based decisions at all points of care.

What are your plans for the Indian market?
India is a growing market for us. Apart from working with EMR vendors in India to provide clinical decision support tools for doctors at the point of care and supporting nurses with care planning tools, we hope to work more closely with the Indian government, various agencies and NGOs to be a part of the solution addressing the overall health condition of India.

Recognizing the power of data to help healthcare professionals make more informed decisions about patients’ care plans, we have invested in AI deep analytics and Machine Learning. These sophisticated capabilities allow raw patient/health data (which are amassed on a daily basis) to be transformed into real-time actionable insights that can be fed back into practice. We invite partners from both the public and private sectors to share in our vision to deliver better patient outcomes through the use of these new technologies.

We are in over three major cities in India, including Mumbai, Chennai and Delhi, with close to 1,000 employees. Our Chennai office alone has about 600 – 700 employees. Our global team provides support to local offices by relaying experiences and best practices gathered from across the world.

Any plans to tie up with the Indian government?
Absolutely – we are extremely excited about where the Government of India is going in terms of their health blue print. The National Health Policy (NHP) 2017, advocates extensive deployment of digital tools while ensuring interoperability between IT systems for improving the efficiency and outcomes of India’s healthcare system. At Elsevier, we believe that India has a huge opportunity to use its rapidly developing digital infrastructure to bridge knowledge gaps, increase capacity, and bring better care to all, whether they reside in the ever growing mega-cities or in sub-urban/rural areas.
We are particularly keen to partner the Indian government in their goal of bringing quality care to more patients in the underserved rural areas, where millions of people still reside.

We are currently looking at projects that could support care providers in these less urban areas in the long-term condition management of heart disease and diabetes. There are also several ongoing programmes in collaboration with local governments to introduce digital health solutions to current care processes.

Tell us more about what Elsevier does.
Elsevier is an information analytics company and one of the world’s major providers of scientific, technical, and medical information. We have a 193 year history of providing health information to doctors and nurses across the globe, 20 years’ experience in big data and are a trusted partner in integrating technology with world-class content in 24 countries. Our health and clinical solutions offerings are in the areas of strategic research management, R&D performance, clinical decision support, and professional education. In the area of clinical decision support, we curate clinical information, databases, intelligent search tools and mobile technology to enable healthcare professionals to improve clinical outcomes through evidence-based care. As an analytics company, we are also working on machine learning and AI to deliver solutions for doctors.

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