As the healthcare industry in India goes through an expansion spree and gears up to become the best-in-class, IT is increasingly being embraced and adopted by healthcare organisations. While for some organisations the motivation for IT implementation is propelled by intention to automate and modernize their functioning, many others are doing it simply to follow the fad.
Whatever the reason, 'e' has slowly started getting the better share of healthcare (although long awaited). However, the trend is quite new and very nascent, as compared to other countries. There is a clear crunch of adequately qualified and relevantly experienced IT manpower in this domain and so far it has not been smooth sailing for most organisations.
Among all this, people who are facing most of the brunt are those who are managing IT in healthcare organisations. While the coveted designation of Chief Information Officer (CIO) has quite smartly been adopted by some of the big players in the industry, to a large extent, it remains an ornamental position in the corporate structure, with limited authority and at times with just a shadow power. This issue emerges time and again during interactions with such people.
In reality, the corporate power centre remains with CEOs/COOs/CFOs, particularly when it comes to actual decision-making like IT budgeting, IT investments and in some extreme cases, even IT procurement and implementation. Often, IT plans proposed by CIOs are derailed by their better 'Cs' (if not by high-powered doctors with a strong clout and fan following within the organisation). Reasons would be anything starting from lack of funds, weak business case, internal resistance or many a time, just ignorance.
Quite evidently, there is a real need to rationalise the power play inside corporate boardrooms!
Healthcare is possibly among the most data-critical, information intensive and knowledge driven service sectors. Yet, for long, the industry (particularly in the Indian context) has been one of the slowest adopters of IT.
Currently, the IT penetration in Indian healthcare industry is way too small compared to global standards and according to industry analysts, it will be a while before the health IT market blossoms. However, there is a silver lining to this leading market research firms and IT industry experts have projected India among the fastest growing healthcare IT markets in Asia, following China.
Interestingly, the reason for such slow market growth for health IT and hospital automation solutions and services, is not solely due to lack of funds of healthcare providers. Major investment is already happening for healthcare infrastructure development/expansion and medical equipment, but not comparably so for health IT. While the overall healthcare market in India is expected to reach nearly USD 70 billion by 2012, the potential for medical equipment market over the same time period is pegged at USD 18 billion, while that of health IT market at USD 3 billion.