Inder Davalur, Group CIO, KIMS Hospital, Hyderabad

The digital journey for KIMS Hospitals, Hyderabad began with a single step of employing technology to engage with the patient. A patient's experience in the hospital is multidimensional in time and space. This is further compounded by the many interactions that a patient experiences and each encounter engenders an emotion that further feeds the approach and absorption of the next encounter.

A delay in the registration process engages the frustration lever which then gets pushed a little further up when the appointment that one has with the consultant is delayed because he/she is held up in the operation theater or on rounds to see their patients. As the day wears on and the patient is moved along the process, it becomes clear that the lever is well past the half-way position. All it takes at that point is a miscommunication or a misstep on the part of a staff member to throw the level full tilt. All hell breaks loose; the patient is suddenly screaming at a seemingly minor glitch that completely befuddles the staff member as to why a person would yell at them for such a minor fault. We have either been there, or witnessed it, or heard such accounts from someone we know.

Although this is clearly a process-related operations issue, technology might be able to help. The book Digital to the Core by Graham Waller and Mark Raskino of Gartner beautifully lays out how an organization can think digital in its approach to solving problems. At KIMS, management and staff are constantly reminded of how technology can be harnessed to improved patient experience. In almost every industry, the digital revolution has pervaded almost every aspect of operations and customer experience. In healthcare and hospitals, the approach to treating the patient has veered very little over a century. The ambience and the hygiene level have certainly improved vastly but the overall approach to how a patient navigates the system is quite arcane.

Enter AI

The power of AI is only limited by our imagination and sometimes, persistence. Technology may not compare to or equal the complex nature of a human brain but it certainly has the upper hand when it comes to speed and consistently and accurately making calculations millions of times in the space of nanoseconds. KIMS has embraced this maxim in introducing a rather unique approach to the patient experience. Remember the frustration lever that we encountered earlier? What if there was a way to tie some constant to the position of the lever and take preemptive action before the position moves to full tilt? Using a patented technology of an innovative vendor, KIMS has engaged the patient experience in the digital space. The result is quite revealing of the gaps and failure points in the process flow. The staff on the floor know where the lever is even before the patient realizes it. We have just gotten started. This has opened up a whole new world for us in how we use technology to engage the patient.

Simply put, we are implementing one of the fundamental tenets of the digital approach to business. When an organization wishes to embark on a digital approach to solving a problem, it is best served if it views it as an extension of its very being rather than as an add-on. When technology is incorporated into the natural process, it engages the persons providing the service and receiving the service as one. Every aspect of a business activity has to nurture technology as an extension of rather than an entity that sits on top of the process itself.

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