As healthcare IT spending in India is set to increase 7% next year, CIOs must focus on the front end to ensure they get value from backend modernization and meet the government’s goals to improve accessibility to health services.
Meanwhile, IT suppliers are targeting the sector as investments are made by the government and private sector.
Sumit Sood, vice-president in Middle East and Asia for Virtusa Corporation, which supplies to the healthcare sector, said the Indian healthcare infrastructure is modernizing and IT investment is following.
“In India, the sector has moved to new levels in the last five to six years. We have travelled from one-off hospitals to large chains and basic system roll-outs, integrated chains, basic patient management and medicine management systems [increasingly being implemented],” he said.
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Pandurang Salunkhe, a CIO with a background in the pharmaceuticals and healthcare sectors, and now IT head at Wanbury, said healthcare IT spending will focus more on frontline technologies.
“While general ERP systems, with their accuracy and operational advantages, continue to gather steam, a lot remains when it comes to strengthening [customer facing] aspects and competitive edge for many firms here.”
Gartner said at the beginning of this year that Indian healthcare providers will spend 57bn INR on IT products and services this year with salaries and benefits of IT staff growing fastest.
Hospitals and hospital systems, as well as ambulatory service and physicians' practices will spend 7% more this year than in 2012.
Anurag Gupta, research director at Gartner India, said the government is increasing spending on healthcare and is encouraging private sector investments to help India catch up with other developing nations.
Gartner added that internal services, the salaries and benefits paid to the IT staff, will achieve the highest growth rate among the spending categories – forecast to be 18% in 2013.
Munender Soperna, head of IT at Dr Lal PathLabs, said that IT suppliers are targeting the Indian health sector.
“Business houses are considering this vertical as a growing vertical and planning to invest in a big way. As far as IT investment is concerned, there is a good ROI in this industry if any company has a good plan to run/grow this vertical in a professional manner."