One of the biggest costs when it comes to healthcare in India is critical care. This is the care delivered to patients in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit). Often after a critical episode like a heart attack the patients need to be monitored for some time and thus are based in an ICU.
The daily cost for a patient to use the ICU can be anywhere between Rs 5,000- Rs 10,000 in a tier one city in India. As most tier 2 and tier 3 towns don’t have ICUs patients from these areas have to be shifted to the tier 1 cities for treatment for critical ailments and hence the high cost. Also the lack of qualified health personnel in smaller towns hinders the care delivery process there.
Add to this others costs like manpower, medicines, Infrastructure and taxes, a stay at the ICU for a patient ends up eating into the savings of an entire family and is one of the biggest reasons for rural indebtedness, The image below gives an indication of the costs for treatment in most urban hospitals.
On a recent visit to the Philips Innovation Center I came across an interesting system can help reduce the cost for the critical care of patients. The application aptly named ‘Consultative Critical Care’ is a application which can be used to monitor patients admitted in ICUs from Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. The biggest requirement for an ICU is an Intensivist or a physician that specializes in monitoring patients in the ICU. India today has roughly 500 physicians who are qualified intensivits and most of them are based at urban hospitals. But using this application an Intensivist in Bangalore can monitor a patient in Hubli.
Now how does the system work? Firstly it consists of a set of monitors and cameras that relay the patients vital signs and physical condition from the ICU to a monitoring station in the city. So at any given point of time the Intensivist sitting in say Bangalore can see the patient in Hubli and can also monitor his key signs. At any point the intensivist can send instructions to the on duty physicians in the ICU to give the medication or to intervene as the patients conditions require.
On the technical side the application has to be hosted on a data center and the connectivity to the monitoring station is possible through ASDL or 3 G. The records can be shared between both hospitals through the System as long as the hospital systems are HL 7 compliant.
This will require some integration services and is a mouth water prospect for many Indian IT service providers especially given the scope for data center hosting, network monitoring and application support.
The ‘Consultative Critical Care ‘ System has been a process of reverse innovation from Philips Healthcare who have brought in this system from the US centers and reverse engineered it to suit the Indian conditions. Philips Healthcare did not comment on the pricing, but said this is being offered as both Capex and Opex Model.
According to MR Srinivas Prasad the Head of Philips Healthcare in India, this application could reduce the cost of ICU monitoring by as much as 40 %. Philips Healthcare did share some images of the system and a typical monitoring station could look like the one below.
But I want to know your opinion on this system. Do you think such an application would work in India? Will the current infrastructure in the country allow such a system to be effective?
Please do write in and leave your comments.