sourceaditya: October 2009

Sunday, October 25, 2009

10 Reasons for Doctors to be IT friendly and go paperless (well almost)

Healthcare is a business which requires the noting down of large amount of information, transfer of data and making decisions which are again to be captured. So, I guess it is safe to assume that it is a very paper and pen intensive domain, where patient information, reports and daily interaction all happen on paper. Looking at just this one aspect, it becomes clear that IT can play a major part in driving Healthcare if done right.

So what is the downside to all this paper work? I mean haven’t people been doing it for donkeys years. Paper health records have been kept diligently since a century or more, but technology can not only improve the documentation and storage but also improve processes and speed in making, storing, accessing and using this information. So the 10 reasons why a medical setup should become IT friendly in the paperless space are:

1. Be eco-friendly: Less paper used = more trees saved. Extend your care beyond just your clientele.

2. Storage space: Save money on storage space for large number of records and paper based data. As technology improves cost of data storage goes down and that of physical space goes up.

3. Quick retrieval: Retrieve stored, archived data faster on your PC then from filing cabinet. That’s a straight forward challenge. However much data you may have, whatever the number of records, a simple search will help you access the record within seconds. No more walking down dusty aisles of records or browsing through a clutter of files in your cabinet.

4. All Information at your tips: Just today an orthopedic surgeon complained of not having information of the bone replacement he had done for a patient who needs to get it replaced. Certainly makes life tough for the doctor and risky for the patient. So why not go paperless, all your data on your PC, server, backed up at as many places till you feel safe. Information is valuable, and also how quickly can you get it, access information for a patient or an administrative report instantly on your software.

5. Sharing Data seamlessly: Communication is becoming the cornerstone of society. People travel, people use their phones and the internet and the crowd grows by the minute. Getting or giving information which will help make better decisions about a person’s health is a positive outcome of this boom. Its time you got on the band wagon too. Share your e-records with your peers and patients to improve service quality. Improve your productivity by sharing your administrative information and reports with your CA, vendors, pharmacies, pharma companies.

6. Less Chaos: A large setup usually has paper work flowing around the hospital or medical center, usually resulting in a flood. Imagine a place where there is no clutter. A clean and paper reduced office certainly improves the setup outlook. Not to mention more work gets done when you don’t have to sort through and find records.

7. Increased Capacity: A faster records access, storage and retrieval system gives you and your staff more time. It increases efficiency allowing you to spend more time with your patients, and if the word spreads how efficient your setup is, then maybe even see more patients.

8. Do More: Electronic information traditionally allows you to do more with the data you have. Run multiple reports; create informative statistics which help you improve your clinic. Learn how you can improve your business by using resources better. With paper there is only so much data you can sift through. Why work so hard to get what your PC will do for you in seconds. And give it a chance, trust me there are things which you can’t even imagine that your PC might be able to do.

9. Pay Less: Pay less, because what you spend on the becoming IT friendly is certainly less than what you would cumulatively spend on paper, staff, storage and decreased productivity over time.

10. Look Cool: Nice looking software, with some neat PCs, offering efficient service, quality time, and innovative solutions goes a long way in impressing patients. Also with the decreased paper work, the office looks neater and a place you wouldn’t mind spending time at.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Cool Applications for a Doctor’s Website

A website is many things to many people and organizations that have them. A visiting card on the world wide web, a squatting place on the ever connected information highway, a knowledge source for others to learn, and many more definitions come out of the woodwork after all these net enabled years. Today doctors, just like any other professional or organization are interested in getting their own website, either personally or for their clinic/hospital.

So what are the essentials a doctor’s website should have?
Information about you and your setup, degree and professional details, contact information (with a map preferably), information about the services you provide and finally a query form for the curious ones who want to ask a question. Apart from this basic data some doctors have gone a step further and introduced many innovative tools and content on their website. Interactive patient forms, videos and animations, medical calculators that calculate your BMI and what not, forums, blogs, news feeds, etc. These are some of the things you will usually find on a doctor’s website.

So what else is there?
Well the tools and applications need not stop there. More can be achieved on your website by applications and widgets. They can make your website more interactive for the user and offer patients a lot more opportunity to learn, get serviced and interact with you! Some neat ideas can be implemented which can make a world of difference to your site; which from being a lost in the crowd visiting card on the Internet becomes a beacon of light in the chaos.

So tell me more about them?
A very basic need is appointment management, nothing which an Online Scheduler cannot handle. It comes equipped with an interface to fill in your timings as per your availability on a daily basis. It allows patients to take an appointment; which comes to you as an SMS alert. Go online or through your phone accept the appointment or reject it, triggering the appropriate SMS to the patient. It can be interfaced with Plus91 Practice Management Solutions.

Online EMR and e-Bills offers the patient the added benefit of viewing his/her record remotely along with the bill. This allows the patient to travel and still access the records. It also allows them access to download and print bills for insurance reasons at any time. Lastly, it saves the clinic time and the patient the added effort of collecting certain reports which do not need doctor interaction. Create Patient profiles on the website and allows access via a username and password. Upload report documents to the patient profile, SMS alert goes to the patient who can now access them with ease.

E-Prescriptions are the rage in the USA, companies like surescripts have made it into a completely new business model. Travelling patients will indeed be thankful the day you can start this service. There are multiple ideas in at work here.
a. A patient can send a query about a prescription to you via the website interface, which comes to you as a SMS and you can reply from the phone.
b. You can have a small gadget where patient fill in their prescription schedules or you upload from your software, and the website sends SMS reminders to the patient to take the tablet.
c. Lastly and this is big in the USA but not here, is actually sending across prescriptions from your software or the website to your local or requisite pharmacist, eliminating paper and making the prescription tablets harder to get. Now the patient simply goes to the pharmacy and his prescriptions are waiting.

Content Management Systems are present behind websites allowing the user to change the web content over time. A good content management system allows you to add, update, delete and modify various pages and files on the website from a single simple graphical interface. Making your website cool and up to date needs you to have a strong content management system behind it so you don’t waste your time updating information.

Doctor Connect is a simple concept; there are times in the day or in the week where you are relatively free. So why don’t you allow patients or people to interact with you real time without meeting you. You can consider this a stripped down version of telemedicine via your website. Allow users to come to the site and chat with you on a G-talk or other chat engines embedded in your website. They only see you when you are free and can sign in. Take it one step further by allowing them to SMS queries to you from the website.

News Aggregator, start a news aggregator for your field of medicine. This automatically picks up topics related to your field of medicine and shows it one a scrolling news bar, with links to the articles. These are sourced from across the internet from various health and news sites. Now become a single source of news not only for patients but also for your fellow colleagues, at no extra effort or cost from your side.

Map my Clinic, allows you to use the progress technology has made in navigation. Allow the patient or client to send an SMS of his location to a number which in turn comes to your website, here it computes the best case directions to your clinic using external service providers and sends SMS of direction back.

Allow your WAP/GPRS/3G enabled phone to capture and image and send it straight to your website where you can access it for further study or show it in a public gallery for others to see. These may be patient X-ray or chart images, surgery images, images of patient conditions, or just some cool thing you saw and want to share with your patients.

There is much more we can do with a website! I am sure if given an opportunity we can make it much more than just a visiting card on the internet. Coming soon, by Plus91

Monday, October 19, 2009

Accounts: A Doctor's nightmare - Made easy by Plus91

While doctors love earning money, they hate keeping accounts ; and interactions with accountants are high on a doctor’s “hate to do” list. A doctor who owns his own clinic has the thankless job of having to maintain accounts. Most doctors have varied methods of maintaining financial records, but all of them get the jitters when it comes to filing their income tax returns. So much paper work and so much time wasted ! Isn’t there a simpler way of managing your accounts? Well technology and softwares run banks, so why not your clinic as well ?

Plus91 has integrated its Practice Management EMR solution with a simple and effective accounts module which manages earnings, general payments, HR payments and referral payments . Here’s how Plus91’s billing module helps you keep your accounts.

My patients usually come in one after the other. It is difficult to keep track of how many came in and also their billing status. Making the receipts is a very cumbersome process for my secretary. What do I do?

The accounts module in our software packages is integrated with the visit management, and allows you to automatically create bills and receipts during the patient visit within seconds. It accepts inputs from the EMR and auto generates the bill with rates you have entered earlier, so that no time is wasted in billing. This means you no longer have to go through multiple screens just to prepare a bill for a patient. Plus91 allows you to generate the bill during the patient visit within seconds. You can also keep track of the bill amount and payment status in a single window , thus making life simpler for you and your secretary.

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A lot of time my patients pay their bills piecemeal This means that their payments for earlier visits is often pending when they come for a followup visit. How can I collect the pending payments more efficiently ? It is irritating to go back to the old account books and make a list of payment pending entries. I need something which is more efficient !

Yes, making lists of pending payments can be quite cumbersome, which means a lot of time the patients default on their payments and you lose this income. Plus91 remembers which bills have been only part-paid. This means creating an unpaid bills report ( accounts receiveable) is just a simple click away. When the patient pays the remainder due, you just need to update his billing record, and his name is automatically cleared from the pending list !

My CA ( chartered accountant) insists he wants all income and expenditure neatly filed under various heads and given to him in an Excel sheet. It is tough enough to put everything down on paper – putting everything on Excel is twice the work ! Can software help me overcome this problem?

Many doctors cancel their appointments and stop seeing patients for 2-3 days every year when they are stuck at their CAs. The reason they waste so much time there is simply books are a disorganized mess of registers, papers and bills. Going electronic allows our intelligent software to do the work for you , so you can earn more money seeing more patients ! Once you start using Plus91, the amount of time you will save in interacting with your accountant will more than make up for the cost of the package in the first year itself !

Plus91’s accounts package allows you to create ledgers ; profit and loss statements; and allows you to export all this into formatted excel sheets, making your life much easier. Soon, you will be able to export this into Tally , making sure your CA votes you as being his favourite client !

How do I make sure my staff hands over my daily collections to me ? How can I monitor them more closely to make sure they aren’t siphoning off my heard earned money ?

Even though doctors are daily wage earners, they are surprisingly naive about handling money. A lot of their income is in cash; and because they are so busy, they often have to trust a clerk or secretary to collect their fees. This makes them easy targets for embezzlement; and the embezzling is usually done by their most trusted staff member ! What do you do if he “forgets” to enter a patient in your register ? Or if he fails to prepare a bill and pockets your money ?

With Plus91, each patient you see is present in the system , so it is easy to keep track of how many you have seen. Since creating the bill in part of the clinic process flow , this allows you to track the status of each patient with respect to their payments !

I don’t want all my staff to know how much I earn ? If I keep all my financial transactions on Plus91, then every one will know what my income is !

Plus91 allows you to set passwords, so that privileges are set for each user. This ensures that your staff has access only to what information you want them to see. You can keep whichever part of the record you want confidential and do not need to share it with them if you do not want to .

Many of patients have health insurance and I need to get the TPAs to pay my bills. They want me to format my bill according to various heads – and these rules vary from TPA to TPA ! If I want prompt payment from the insurance company, I need to do this. Will Plus91 help me?

As health insurance takes center stage in India, TPAs are insisting that the bills you submit to them for reimbursement be created in a certain format. Because they control the flow of money, they can pretty much demand this, and doctors will have to comply.

Plus91’s claims package has integrated these formats into its solution. By choosing the correct option, you just need to fill in the appropriate fields and you will be able to complete the formalities in a jiffy. What’s more the software allows you to re-format the bills as needed, allowing a lot of flexibility.

I need my inventory and other payments to be managed directly, without having to make entries twice. Having different programs to do this reduces my efficiency !

When you purchase medical equipment ( ranging from a chair to office stationary), you have to create a voucher for the same; make a debit entry in your ledger and also make an entry in your inventory register. That’s two steps too many for a simple purchase ! Plus91 allows you to do all this automatically by filling one quick form. Just add your voucher and let the software do the rest.

I have to track doctors who refer patients to me . I need to be on top of this so that I do not lose out on patients. Can you help me with this?

Referrals are an integral part of the Indian Healthcare system. There’s no need to waste time doing these calculations if you use Plus91 ! Plus91’s referral systems keeps tracks of all the patients referred to you by various doctors. You can generate month end reports in excel and send them to your referring doctors.

My billing needs to be very flexible, as I often have to give a discount to poor patients. How can you help me to manage this ?

Plus91’s billing module allows you to be very flexible . You can add a discount or a tax as needed; or charge different rates for each of the procedures you perform.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Medical Softwares of Old: Slow to catch up

Technology infiltrated medicine a long time back. On the hardware and pharma front it was growing leaps and bounds before software even had it boots on. So why did software get left behind. Well my version of the story is that it didn’t get left behind it was just slow to learn and grow. Since the time the PC was invented and programs to go with it, something was being developed for the medical front. It began with some very specialized sections which are today well entrenched in the practice, eg. Imaging softwares for a radiologist, however the major portion was just left behind and slow to adapt.

Focusing on India, our culture dictates the doctor to be a know-it-all but with a human touch. How then can he peer into a screen and provide good service and also need to peer into a computer in the first place. While technology from the outsourcing point of view was quick to catch on, its entry to main stream lives has still been slow. Today doctors are finally waking upto the possibility of softwares enabling to service the patients better. The softwares on their part are adapting to the working style of the doctors using newer concepts and clearer process mapping. This reduces the direct use of PCs during an examination or consultation, and more importantly people have begun to understand that using the software helps provide better service and not as a replacement for the doctor.

So why were the old software not too keenly looked at by the doctors. It is only in the last 2 years that great interest is being generated. In the next few years there could be the boom of Healthcare IT, but what went wrong before. The major reasons were:

a. Unfriendly and complicated user interfaces: Medicine is complicated so the software should also look complicated
b. Rigid work flows: Dictating terms to well settled practices never really got any one to happy
c. Large learning curves: No time to learn and use a software especially if it is complicated or not as per my work flow
d. System requirements: Softwares worked on some PCs and some configurations. Investment then into something like this was not a small amount.
e. Too narrow in capability: Softwares did such specific tasks that it required two separate ones or paper work to be done side by side for managing the entire setup.
f. Paper is King: Government regulations required strict paper storage policies to be implemented. They weren’t aware of the possibility of EMRs.
g. Game changing features: Were too few and up to the mark. Today innovation in this field is lighting up a lot of doctors’ faces. Eg. The practicality of providing online EMR for traveling patients is important, and it wasn’t available few years back.
h. Time to customize: Was slow and time consuming. Hence deterring a lot of doctor’s from taking the plunge or quick and innovative development from taking place
i. Sales avenues for softwares: Sales channels were not well defined in the nascent market. Today the internet, ease of buying and carrying laptops and also ability to provide videos, demos, and literature goes a long way in educating and finally selling softwares.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Software Features Most Appreciated by Doctors!

I come from a company and a team of of very innovative people. Since the last 3 years we have tried to include, in most cases successfully and in some cases still trying to introduce game changing features into our softwares. These software products are specifically targeted at doctors and hospitals in the Indian Market. We have tried to keep a realistic outlook towards usability and need in developing these features, though some are for the pure thrill of it. Below I have listed some of the features we offer that are really being appreciated by the Doctors.

1. SMS and Email integration - Simple, yet effective in communicating with patients and doctors alike. Today India communicates on the Mobile so why not the doctors.

2. Data Protection - Online back up to save data and download it any time in case of a crash or back your entire PC onto a device provided by us. Keeping the data safe has always been a priority for doctors and hospitals, now you can.

3. Point and click interfaces - Simple Graphical User Interfaces makes life and learning simple for the doctor. Minimal learning curve ensures that the doctor and his staff are using the software within days to its maximum benefit

4. Online EMR - Offering doctors the expertise to offer patients their records online for easy access, especially patients from far away or constantly traveling. Takers for this are few and far, but those who understand the implications of this, really appreciate the scope of the progress that is being made.

5. Online Support and Updates - Now no more waiting for help to arrive is how I best pitch this service. But trust me, one actual live use of this service and the doctor is sold on it for life.

6. Structured Reporting - For every specialty in medicine we support, we appreciate that the potential outcomes are numerous. That these outcomes can be displayed in a structured way to quickly select, display and publish reports to make this a mundane and quick task is a vital feature in our PMS. Doctors increasingly appreciate this intelligence structure to help them quickly select report templates and publish reports.

7. Referrals - Referral management module has been a boon to those doctors which keep track of who is sending them how many patients and any monetary implications of the same.

8. Exporting Data - Export to Excel feature is very well appreciated by Doctors as it helps them to send data to CAs and other external sources without any headache. Soon to come, export to Tally.

9. Auto-Complete and Auto-Add Drop downs - A simple technical mechanism to help manage drop downs better. Increases data entry speed and also makes the software User Friendly. Doctors immediately recognize this and appreciate the capability.

10. Adding attachments - Scan or capture and attach videos, images and documents to the patient record. This feature proves worthwhile for a myriad of reasons. Doctors are happy to be able to be flexible in their approach and attach everything in a single location.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Initiating Online Installation and Support

As I write this blog entry I am traveling back from Bhandara near Nagpur having completed an installation of Ultrasite with a diagnostic center. It has been an effort to do so. In the long the run maybe the experience is worth it for me personally but the it just goes to prove that the alternative is much more effective. In the last week we completed two installations at Varanasi and Solan without visiting the locations.

I think the era of using the online methodology just not to market but also to deliver and deploy is here. And people in India, at least all doctors I have interacted seem comfortable with the whole prospect. So the biggest hurdle seems to be clearing itself. But thats just half the problem solved. How does one tackle delivery, technology, training, information exchange and also payment online.

For one thing its vital to have a good site which promotes information sharing easily between clients, potential clients and yourself. Secondly it is vital to have a good software setup which allows remote management. Teamviewer, Log me In, even Windows tool are quite effective. Next, your process flow for installation or providing support should be simple and well practiced by you. At Plus91 we take about 10 minutes to complete an installation.

Now things we have learned here are: Some times if the clients net connection isn't fast it makes sense to courier him a CD with the executables or ask him to download it from secure temporary links on his own free time. However our files aren't so big but then again the Internet speeds in India arent brilliant everywhere either. Next it is vital to be able to provide training remotely. We have devised online training tools on our website. A comprehensive help manual and most important of all Audio Visual Help files which run like videos going over each activity in the software. I still get the occasional confused call but its reduced considerably.

Email and chat are the best ways to exchange information and track any changes required. A formal system on the website is also a good step. Lastly payment by Neft nowadays is a very simple process with each branch of each bank connected. Doctors usually never have a problem with this part though they do argue about the pricing :).

Over all I think my company with its small sales force has been able to serve, cater to and also manage sales far away due to this method. My cost is minimal with investment in a good remote software, time for formalizing and practicing my process. But dividends are rich, I have clients in remote areas, some whom I haven't even met. The buck doesn't stop here though there is till room to improve and streamline. May be in a couple of months Ill come back to this topic and mention what we have learned.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Practhett is back with "The Unseen Academicals"

My favorite author is back with the 32nd book of his belligerently satirical and diabolically funny Discworld series, the unseen academicals. This is the disc shape world and Terry's imaginative swipe at football clubs and varsity sports. And I cant wait to get my hands on it.

To the uninitiated, Terry Pratchett is an author who worked at a nuclear plant before deciding its much safer writing about the world's idiosyncrasies. To be safe he invented an imaginary place called discworld where he took humorous swipes at modern day problems. But why do I love him so much, because well his writing style, his witty remarks and his objective way of describing subjective incidents using various motifs is just down right fun to read.

Some times if the world were a more simple place, I think I would make Pratchett compulsory reading. Not only does it bring a smile to your face it also teaches you what all is really wrong with the world, sometimes with pointers in the right direction. Below are a few samples of my favorite quotes from Pratchett.

1. It is said that your life flashes before your eyes just before you die. That is true, it's called Life.

2. Give a man a fire and he's warm for the day. But set fire to him and he's warm for the rest of his life.

3. The figures looked more or less human. And they were engaged in religion. You could tell by the knives (it's not murder if you do it for a god).

4. The Monks of Cool, whose tiny and exclusive monastery is hidden in a really cool and laid-back valley in the lower Ramtops, have a passing-out test for a novice. He is taken into a room full of all types of clothing and asked: Yo, my son, which of these is the most stylish thing to wear? And the correct answer is: Hey, whatever I select.

5. “Most species do their own evolving, making it up as they go along, which is the way Nature intended. And this is all very natural and organic and in tune with mysterious cycles of the cosmos, which believes that there’s nothing like millions of years of really frustrating trial and error to give a species moral fiber and, in some cases, backbone.”

Now thats class...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Top 10 reasons why doctors say NO

Doctors being in the business they are, are pretty straight forward people. So selling softwares to them can get interesting especially if they are not interested. The healthcare IT and medical software market in India is still very nascent. Doctors are just waking up to the fact that some thing exists. Also the ones who have taken up some softwares usually find themselves using products that do not satisfy their needs. The medical software market is slowly coming to terms with the complex work flows which needs to be displayed for quick entry while the doctor caters to a patient. Hence, there are issues there too which are sorting itself out albeit slowly.

So the top 10 reasons why Doctors say NO to medical softwares in India are:

1. I am not IT savvy and do not want to invest is buying and learning new stuff (Here is a good opportunity to actually make some one realize the potential technology can make)

2. I am too old or old fashioned to invest in a software now (Probably the toughest lot to convince, usually unless you see some hope during your interaction should be left alone)

3. I already have a software and I quite like it (Can be tough to convince if they are in love with their old software, but there are methods to convince especially if your product is better)

4. I bought a software but i wasted time and money, was of no use. (Require to prove your credentials through references, product demo, hand holding. A lot of my conversions have happened from this category)

5. I am not to keen to introduce a software in my work flow, do not have the time (Here its all about your software workflow and convincing power, the aim to prove that once settled this can make you see more patients, if your so inclined to your business we can actually improve it)

6. I do not think the software meet my requirements, I want more/less/something different (Well our paradigm is simple, each doctor is his own boss so they tend to want it their way, so how do we make this feasible, by letting our technology let us develop and modify quickly, so usually we say yes we can)

7. I do not want to meet you, as I am not interested (This is a tough one, because unless I can talk or show my demo its a zero percent chance, usually we leave behind video demos, brochures or cards, for later reference)

8. I prefer the cheaper or free option I am getting from my relative/pharma company/local provider. (Show them a feature, ease of use and cost benefit analysis vis a vis your product. Also offer them pre-determined discounts showing you care and understand where they come from. But keep a base level beyond which you do not compromise,tell them they have to pay for better quality and service. Show them you are better and confident about it, with respect comes a change of heart, well sometimes)

9. I like to use my writing pad (Tablet PCs, intelligent forms and voice transcription are here, and they are getting cheaper, pretty soon I know my company is going to render this excuse obsolete)

10. I do not have a PC (Offer them good deals through your vendor, hand hold them initially in case you see a glimmer of hope, because if they like you first time, they are your customer for life)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Poker Mania in India

Poker seems to have really caught on in India, I think receiving an invite to play on a completely "Indian" poker site signals the advent of poker mania. What began as a simple friendly pass time a year and half back has now become a virulent passion amongst the rest of the junta. We began as 5 friends who wanted to kill time every other Friday night. Today I get calls from other friends who organize 70-100 people tournaments in fancy hotels and people are ready to pay for thrill of the win.

So why does poker evoke such passion, its know to cut across all boundaries, women seem to enjoy it too! Isn't it just another card game and a gambling habit. Well it's both and a lot more. Just like Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum is the thinking man Da Vinci Code, poker is gambling card game which requires a lot neurons up there and a lot of balls down there. It easy to pick up but very hard to master. It just doesn't involve learning what to do with your cards but also involves knowing what to do with your opponents twitches and body movement. It even involves some maths, ohh that painful little branch called probability. People who would curse maths, live by it and can calculate within seconds the odds of a card coming on the poker table (Much like that Gujju trader who may have failed his 12th but still make shit loads of more money than you on the market and knows all the bhavs).

All in all its a fun time to be a poker fan in India. Things are looking up, from back room private tables at peoples homes to well organized tournaments like a pro sport things are moving quickly. I think its time we got our own entry leg into the WSOP. What say guys Ive been hearing it for a long time, someone better make it happen.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Taking Indian Healthcare Online: Are we ready yet

A lot of websites today claim to offer a host of services for doctors and patients online. Some of these sites are very innovative. They all looks good and give you the feeling that Indian Healthcare is definitely going in the right direction. But how effective is their approach from the business reality point of view. How much of this is going to work today and not in 3 years?

From the business perspective I think it’s a little early to go completely online, a company only offering web based services through a portal. The biggest in road you can make today with doctors in India is offering them local solutions which have an internet backdoor offering them additional services like Online EMR, record transfer and online scheduling etc.

Of course the ultimate aim is to take it all online (our own infinitehealth which is in internal testing at Plus91 is a step in that direction) but a complete model based only on online services is still some time away in gathering steam with the Indian crowd. Just few days ago I got a beauty and slimming clinic currently using an online billing, form handling and CRM software coming to me for a local solution where they can access parts over the net. Their biggest gripe Internet speeds and flexibility levels.

I rather think it makes more sense to build technology which can be internet friendly and also highly flexible giving a low customization time and cost to incorporate. This not only makes business sense but also gives the doctor the joy of getting what he wants (A very very important factor when considering Indian Doctors).

On the online medical record transfer front there is a constant debate about how to best attack and monetize it. Today offering someone the hypothetical solution of transferring data online will not sell so easily and will not be effective unless a large number of people sign up in a closed area. I have in Pune, clients in one area, a lab, a diagnostic center and a mid size hospital. Prototyping the technology to manage the record transfer for this local group and marketing it to them seems worthwhile. Selling solutions like record transfer will only work when sold as a cross service to existing practice management clients to ensure growth as they get maximum benefit. On the other front I get actual solid clients for this rather than someone signing up the first time because it’s a new service and never using it. Much like the way some of these websites seem to be managing.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Tata Photon – Finally On

I have heard so much about the Tata Photon, that finally when I had the opportunity to take it up I did so with both hands. But thanks to some very convoluted policies and less than knowledgeable customer service executives it wasn’t easy. I recently bought a HP laptop and received with it a voucher for the Tata Photon service. So I went and submitted the paper work and things were going smoothly. As I was travelling my activation visit was delayed, having specifically told them that I was out of town.

On coming back I waited and waited, when no call was forthcoming I called the customer care who told me that a complaint was lodged and someone would call. Again I waited and waited but to no avail, finally frustrated I went to the Tata Indicom store. And to my horror they told me my application was rejected as no one was there during their verification. I told them I did mention I was out of town. They agreed with all I had to say, but their actual excuse was that once it was done in the system I could not avail of the voucher again. Now this really irked me, because the problem was a solvable one and using the excuse of the “system” was a try at making it an impossible one to solve. Moreover when asked why the customer service person I called never mentioned anything, he said it was because they don’t know anything.
Either ways I decided to send some email complaints. I wasn’t disappointed by the Tata Services because at the end it has always come through. The email was exactly sweet, and was sent to the right people (that does go a long way in getting things moving), so within one week my connection was on and the mysteriously their system now accepted the entry. On the whole few things can be learned from this:

a. Big names like Tata really develop a lot of trust by taking action when it is necessary, despite an initial goof up they did come through in double quick time

b. Communication and to right people is important to get a move on things

c. Blaming the system never convinces any one. It in fact can get a lot of people angry because it of no concern to them. Never use an excuse about your internal functions to swat away a complaint.

d. Finally two thumbs up to Tata Photon, I think it is way better than the Reliance Netconnect.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Mumbai Ultrasound Course 2009

The Mumbai Ultrasound Group organizes a conference once every two years with the slogan “education for all”. It is a very informative and study oriented conference with 4 days of sessions teaching the basics as well as the nuances of radiology and sonography complete with lectures from the experts and live sonography sessions showing how it is done. This year at the Mumbai Ultrasound Course 2009 over 300 radiologists and sonologists descended onto the JW Mariott in Mumbai. I was lucky enough to be there with my company Plus91 Technologies owning a little piece of the sponsors’ real estate.

It was a pleasure to be in the elite company of Siemens, Toshiba, Bracco among others each having their unique stall. It was really interesting to see how each company had for the lack of a better work presented their stall, capturing what is most essential for their products. For these medical hardware measures coming for such conferences is old game and they have complete ready to assemble stalls complete with props to make the best impression. We had our own stable space which we adorned with the tools of our trade the laptops. One had a running video demo, one a running presentation and the other for giving demos to interested clients. Lastly we had a hand held tablet PC to show the consumer in this case the radiology delegates how simple things have become.

The first learning was position is everything; being the first or the biggest stall didn’t matter. Being at the right place did. I think we were lucky for both conferences in that respect. In 2007 we were right next to the food court which means each and every delegate saw us and stopped by. This time it was thanks to the most popular and fast selling item at the conference namely books. We were right opposite the book publishing company stall, so we had a constant rush about us. Any doubts about how do we shape up against these fancy stalls was driven away by the fact that most of the crowd most of the time was next to us. Now it was just a question of approaching them.

The other major learning has been the power direct contact with a mass audience can have on your conference. Dr. Mukund Joshi and Dr. Alka Karnik were kind of enough to allow us a 10 minute slot prime time during the conference to address and demo the software. Here I think I hit the nail on the head (little flattery is ok) by attaching importance to improving your service to the client and increasing the efficiency of your business. I painted for them a picture where their needs go beyond just giving the patient medical advice to actually providing better service and also beyond just running a setup to running a efficient easy to manage clinic. My quick and spontaneous speech highlighted the fact that an easy to use software with just the features I have is ideal for their needs. It clicked because I did see numerous nodding heads! And they did flock to me after the last session during the banquet and that’s where we got most of our sales done.

Lastly I think at any event where we are marketing or highlighting the company it is important to always know what the closure process is. We had decided to hand out CDs to people who did purchase the software, but almost of all of them agreed to do the final installation online. I think this is an added advantage to Plus91, where we have perfected the technique of installing our softwares over the net remotely with minimum bandwidth and fuss. Added to that nice easy to understand video demos make the job of training almost redundant. This helps us cater to and sell to clients beyond our physical reach even without the CD if need be.

All in all MUC 2009 was an enjoyable experience and was good for the company. And to think we almost didn’t make it there.