At Infosys, our focus on Healthcare is aimed at radical progress in affordability, wellness, and patient-centricity. We believe technology is a catalyst for game-changing healthcare solutions. In this blog, we discuss challenges, ideas, innovations, and solutions for the healthcare economy.

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September 18, 2009

Mobility as a tool for Pandemic Management

With the frequencies of pandemic diseases increasing, governments, world over should look at effective tools that can enable them manage the diseases more effectively. Mobile phones even the most basic ones can aid governments across key pandemic management activities. This is truer in developing countries where the mobile penetration has been more rapid than traditional telephony. For example over 40% of Indian population including people in the remote rural areas has access to mobile phones.

So, what can a mobile do?

Managing a pandemic covers 3 main facets - precaution, treatment and prevention.
 1.Precaution to avoid spreading,
 2.Treatment covers early identification, isolation and treatment of the affected and
 3.Finally Prevention ensures the right vaccination to be delivered in an effective time-bound manner  across the country.

The main challenges for effective management of the above activities are:
 •Creating awareness and enabling public to take the necessary precautions at a national level within a  short span of time
 •In case of affliction ensuring that help is on-hand whenever and wherever a person requires it
 •Ensuring that vaccinations are effectively done covering the entire population

Mobile phones can be an effective delivery aid for all the above:
 •Government in partnership with mobile service providers can effectively and continuously reach out to the  entire population through SMS (text and voice)
 •Help desks and multi-lingual IVR (Interactive Voice Response) systems can deliver much needed advisories  to the public.
 •A central pandemic management system can enable real-time update and delivery of disease specific  information to the entire population.
 •Location awareness of callers can be used to direct people to the nearest health center capable of  diagnosing and treating the disease.
 •Service provider infrastructure can be leveraged to effectively identify help desks at the nearest health  center and route help calls appropriately.
 •Information on vaccination clinics can be delivered in a guaranteed manner significantly increasing the  reach and awareness of the government's vaccination program.
 •Feedback via SMS and IVR can effectively close the loop - enabling the central pandemic management  committee to track the progress of the initiative and identify bottlenecks early in the cycle. This also  cuts the tapes and enables public to directly voice their concerns and viewpoints to powers that matter.

All the technologies and infrastructure required to do the above currently exist and can be rolled out rapidly. It is important for governments to include the above as part of their disaster management planning. Regulations along the lines of E911/CALEA can ensure compliance and readiness of communication and healthcare service providers to support such scenarios.

September 15, 2009

ICD-10 – so what are the ideal timelines?

Is there too less time for ICD-10 transition? Or is there plenty of time? Will my vendor ensure that we’re compliant, or should we engage a consultant to do a thorough gap assessment? These are questions that should be and probably are on every program manager’s mind that’s been entrusted with the ICD-10 implementation in his organization.

ICD-10 transition is not straightforward at all. Through the years, complex processing logic has been built that depends on ICD codes and other codes that are derived from ICD codes.  Without a deep dive, it’s difficult to project the scale of impact, and the effort and time required to remediate the impact. And you don’t have the ICD-8 to ICD-9 transition experience to leverage here (which you have in case of HIPAA 4010). Moreover, given the difference in usage and implementation, experience from ICD-10 implementation in other countries can help to a very limited extent.

Being conservative is your best bet. When there are too many unknowns, it is common sense to build as much margin into your timelines as you can – which means that you should set the ball rolling immediately. Once you’ve done a detailed assessment, you’ll know the scale of the impact better – you can then slow down or speed up your implementation. Making that call based on knowledge of things at 25K feet level is a huge mistake.

It’s amazing that some that pushed back on the initial compliance date as too aggressive are sitting on things, now that the date has been pushed out. It is wishful thinking that the date will be pushed out further. And the argument that any work done now will become throwaway if the compliance date is pushed out or if the legislation is modified holds no water either.