The new normal needs to reflect the learnings that we derive from the current Covid-19 era, particularly in the context of the healthcare sector which still needs the digital push. To emerge stronger out of the pandemic crisis, the limits of digital technologies need to be pushed. There is a need for a more collaborative world in which the best medical minds combine with the latest technological support and come together to provide quality and compassionate care to patients, keeping their safety and comfort as the utmost priority. DynamicCIO’s (DC) Executive Editor Muqbil Ahmar spoke extensively to Unmesh Deshpande (UD), CTO, Kingsway Hospitals who shared insights and informed how the hospital has been able to innovatively leverage emerging technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence to better serve customers even in the present Covid-19 times. He spoke at length about how IT strategies should always be driven by the business/operations strategy and that there is a need to enable new and different business strategies. Here are the extracts of the free-wheeling discussion:
DC: These are indeed trying times, with businesses facing unprecedented pressure. You are on the frontlines of the battlefield. What were the challenges that medium-scale healthcare enterprises face? What were the challenges that you faced during these unprecedented times?
UD: The COVID -19 pandemic has caught everyone by surprise. The business transformation was the Hobsons Choice. Tables had to be reversed. We had to reach the patients rather than they visiting us. The geography that we are in, the overall IT enablement on the patient side is minimal (a lot patients travel from nearby villages in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh). Designing and delivering effective communication channel was also very crucial.
DC: Technology has come as a savior to many organizations which have been struggling to keep business intact due to the norms of social distancing. How did you cope with the situation and use technology to your advantage?
UD: I, as an IT Architect and a CTO, have groomed my team to be innovative. I thank our leadership team for giving me a free hand and a mandate to build a team that shares our vision and passion. At the initial stages of Kingsway IT, we designed a fully flexible computing fabric that takes the shape as per the demand. Enabling our remote patients with our IT Touch was a complex yet a deliverable task. Thanks to 4G networks that are available today, we remotely assisted
most of the critical and remote patients to configure their smartphones and tablets with the required video consulting platforms.
DC: The pandemic has given birth to many new challenges. One of the most critical of them is adopting new ways of working. How has your hospital ensured the safety of your personnel even while serving the patients?
UD: Well, I would like to differ over here. Pandemic has not given birth to many challenges but provided an opportunity to be innovative, more system-driven, raising the bar of health care standards. With multiple stage screening with the help of IoT and automated data logging we ensured that even the infection control gets the topmost priority and attention. All the function heads assumed ownership (DNA of KH) and led by setting examples. The glass partitioning between the patient and the doctor, frequent sanitization and video phones are pressed into action just to mention a few.
DC: Have you leveraged any of the emerging technologies, such as Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, etc. for your help?
UD: ML and AI is on the cards and will have a key role to play during the roll-out of future technologies. We are continually doing the trend analysis using Microsoft technologies. This Pandemic has also set a pattern of The Dark War. Hackers are
seeking the golden databases from the healthcare industry. We started monitoring our Firewall, Internet usage, SIP Trunks, and VPN routes. We created dashboards for abnormal incidences and these dashboards have displayed distinctive patterns. We have rolled out automated scripts on our edge devices to respond to such patterns by denying services. I am sure that as we embrace KHIT2.0 will be an autonomous intuitive computing environment. So, having an understanding of data pattern analysis helps.
DC: How did you categorize the technology stack? What were the basic questions that you asked yourself while aligning budgets to the technology?
UD: We did what is called as the MOSCOW Approach: must-have, should have, could have, and would have. Being a hospital unlike other enterprises, we do not have the luxury of announcing a downtime. While choosing the building blocks of IT we ensured that the core computing is concurrently maintainable, fully self-tolerant, and disaster-
proof. A sort of Tier-4 DC approach. The budget is always the constraint for all and we were not an exception. We resorted to being innovative here as well while designing the heart of our IT Infra. We adopted HPE’s SimpliVity HCI solution offered by Vintech. Vintech further consulted us for optimizing the solution for HA and Performance.
DC: How did you leverage IT for enabling new and different business strategies?
UD: As I mentioned earlier about a flexible computing fabric that we have delivered all the three main services, Data, Voice, and Business Applications (HMIS ) are fully extendible over the Internet and Intranet. We were able to reach out to the community using this native DNA of our IT Landscape. We could extend voice via SIP Trunking and VPN. We could leverage our web services and business application stack hosted on HPE SimpliVity Stack and MSA Storage to enable our
employees to work effectively from home in an exact manner as they would have been while in office. This also helped us to deliver medical prescriptions and the medicines over our apps.
DC: How did the HPE solutions help you overcome the present situation? Which technologies have been implemented?
UD: Our IT Infra rides on HPE SimpliVity HCI and Aruba networks. The TAT of our SI Vintech was amazing and helped us to reach out to our patients in time and without fail. We have fully scalable MSA Storage, DL 380 Gen10 servers, dedicated
data backup server with Veeam backup supporting our flagship 3 Node solution of HPE SimpliVity with 2 capacity and 1 compute node. We also used VMware vSphere standard. The VMware fits in seamlessly with SimpliVity platform with its native openness for HPE Plugins. We utilized HPE Aruba all Optic TOR Switching for Server Farming. Using all of these building blocks we have created an enterprise-class secured cloud. This proved to be the right decision to have a single brand resulting in best fit, match, and operability.
DC: Employee well-being has to be of paramount importance for organizations. How did the solutions help your employees and their well-being?
UD: Our talented employees are our real wealth. It is our primary duty to protect them. We had to extend all the IT Driven services to their homes, be it AD services, Webservices, SharePoint, Security Policies, and Data repositories. Our IT Team was ever ready with a plan of action to embrace an opportunity to excel. Being an easily configurable and extendible computing platform hosted on HPE Solutions, we were able to migrate the respective workspaces of the Office to their homes. This helped and enabled our employees to effectively work and contribute to the organization from the safety and security of their homes.
I would like to mention here that challenges offer opportunities, opportunities trigger innovations, innovations create solutions and solutions solve the problems. So, on a lighter note challenges create solutions.
DC: Tell us something about Kingsway Hospitals, Nagpur.
UD: Kingsway Hospitals has arrived at the Healthcare Landscape of central India with the mission of providing personalized healthcare to everyone. We are a fully connected healthcare facility that is enabled by IT Services. This is one of the few spaces where technology meets human well-being. We are a 350 bed hospital with specialized ICU, Operation Theatres, IT-enabled OPD consulting chambers, Digital, and interactive display systems, and a plethora of IT-driven endpoints. In short, Kingsway Hospitals is the place wherein the best medical minds combine with the latest technological support and come together to provide quality and compassionate care to our patients, keeping their safety and comfort as our utmost priority.