sourceaditya: Getting IT Savvy - A mental block for the Indian Doctor

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Getting IT Savvy - A mental block for the Indian Doctor

The sheer number of times that I have had to actually think about refusing a client because he or she is just too uptight about makes me wonder whether doctor's are all that worried about quality.

I think a there was a wide schism between requirement and delivery in a lot of earlier versions of medical softwares in India leading to a fear amongst doctors about being taken for a ride when purchasing a new IT product. But there is a limit to which this excuse can be used to bargain or actually make a decision.

Any doctor wanting to make his clinic or hospital IT savvy needs to get the right solution other wise it is going to be a dead investment, and there is no salvaging either the product or the doctor's interest in taking a dig at it again. So, why despite this big threat do doctor's tend to bargain like they live hand to mouth when it comes to IT products. This is a very different trend from the big hospitals, who may bargain and call tenders but they never are penny wise pound foolish.

So why this trend? I think it stems from a few reasons:
a. There are no standard suppliers market for these products in the retails segment (read clinics, medical centers, small hospitals) hence there is no real price benchmark.
b. Making a software is a simple enough affair hence you get a lot of 2-bit players, pharma company sponsored softwares, a relative who is an engineer or a local company which makes a HIS system among its entire range, so there are cheap alternatives there, much like a cheap imitation watch market.
c. Today as we make a transition from the old to the new, software hasn't yet become a need for the older generation, so they tend to take it with a pinch of salt, usually with the least hit to their pocket.
d. Doctors have this fascination with getting things cheaper, as a favour or free, it stems from their being an extremely proud lot and from them being mollycoddled by pharma companies since ages.

So what has been the effect of this?
Doctors arguing with me over 2000-3000 rs when they have practices in crores. Doctors taking shortcuts in their software cutting out essential modules because they may save a buck or two. I think sometimes i shudder to think whether this same lot makes its non - IT healthcare and patient centric decisions in this way!

Just yesterday I sent a strongly worded email to a doctor requesting for a software for her hospital. She suggested I should install a much cheaper clinic management tool to manage her multi-doctor multi-department OPD center. I wrote back mentioning the fallacy in doing this, of the sheer waste of time it will be for her and us in getting this off the ground. All because the doctor of a successful hospital would like to save some (a very tiny bit) money!

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