Covid, a game changer for digital health in India: CEO of Fortis Healthcare

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Covid has been a game-changer for digital health in India, and with the launch of the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) by the government in 2020, the digital agenda is taken to the next level through the exchange of health information , harmonious data sharing. , the adoption of open standards and a national health information network, according to Dr Ashutosh Raghuvanshi, Managing Director and CEO of Fortis Healthcare. In an interaction with the Activity area, it shed light on the company’s investment plans, non-Covid business performance and the preparation for the probable third wave, among others. Excerpts:

Now that Covid cases have declined, has non-Covid activity returned to normal?

Non-Covid activity has picked up since June, but it will take a little longer to return to pre-Covid levels. We have resumed elective surgeries and treatment of other conditions unrelated to Covid is almost in full swing.

The patients started their treatments. We are seeing a gradual increase in the monthly non-Covid occupancy rate from 30% in May to 47% in June. If there is no third wave, we expect momentum to continue, allowing activity to return to near normal levels over the next 12-15 months.

What is the investment plan for the current year and the coming year?

This year and next, we will continue to focus on better management of working capital, availability of bank financing and gradual improvement in business dynamics. Our focused efforts would focus on growing revenues, expanding our franchise in catchment areas, engaging with key corporate clients, strengthening community connection and operating our digital platforms.

Our core specialties – cardiology, neurology, oncology, nephrology, orthopedics, gastroenterology and pulmonology – will be further strengthened thanks to the latest technologies, new investments and the integration of senior clinicians. Some of the growth and investment plans, currently underway, include adding 1,300 beds over the next 3-4 years at some facilities such as Shalimar Bagh, Noida, FMRI Gurgaon, Mulund, Mohali and Anandpur.

For SRL, the focus will be on building Covid testing capabilities, recovering and growing non-Covid revenue streams, network expansion, digital initiatives, growing our business in the lab segment of reference thanks to the new generation diagnostics and the improvement of the market share in the cities we intervene.

Digitization has still not been widely accepted in healthcare. What are the main reasons for this? Does he need government intervention?

I disagree, I think digitization has increased several times over the past 18 months. Covid has been a game-changer for digital health, and with the government’s launch of the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) in 2020, the digital agenda is taking the digital agenda to the next level through the exchange of health information, the harmonious sharing of data, the adoption of open standards. , and a national health information network.

Many healthcare companies have quickly adapted to emerging developments. When the Covid epidemic hit India, Fortis Healthcare was among the first hospital chains to introduce telemedicine services in 23 centers. We have seen a significant increase in teleconsultation for many specialties.

We used the technology to the maximum to work, connect, coordinate with all regions, communication and medical education sessions. The virtual connection and online consultation helped our clinicians stay in touch with patients, which was not common before. Yes, some doctors and patients took a while to learn about the digital process, but quickly adapted to it.

However, it is true that not all diseases can be controlled virtually; physical visits are necessary for treatment and essential services such as chemotherapy, dialysis or childbirth. Overall, telemedicine has a very bright future in India.

If the third wave occurs, is Fortis ready for the surge in ventilators, beds and medication cases?

Based on the experience of the previous two waves, we are now able to quickly reassign areas from side to side. In addition to the beds, we have started to develop the infrastructure required for successive waves.

We had planned to set up oxygen plants in 15 of our hospitals, eight of which are already in place, and the rest will arrive in the next three to four months.

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