After much planning and dithering, the government’s idea to digitise everyone’s health data has finally taken off. It took two years and seven revisions to put its stamp on the design of the Integrated Health Information Platform (IHIP). And in the last week of December, the health ministry finally decided who will build it.

It wasn’t spoilt for choices. There were just three contenders, from which the ministry picked a consortium of two services companies—Pune-based Persistent Systems, and IMS Health, headquartered in Connecticut, US. This, over Delhi’s Vayam Technologies and Minnesota-headquartered healthcare company UnitedHealth Group. Both Persistent and UnitedHealth proved their technical ability to build IHIP over many meetings between them and the ministry officials over 2017. On 30 November 2017, however, they were asked to quote their price. Persistent cinched the decision in its favour with the lowest bid at Rs 50 crore ($7.9 million).

“It fell into a sweet spot. This bid is an example of a strategy gone right as we have done this before and we own the intellectual property rights,” said a senior executive of Persistent Systems. Founded in 1990, the IT company provides services such as cloud computing, mobility and analytics. Persistent’s strength to build IHIP is two-fold—the experience of building health exchange for the state of Louisiana (which connects 16 hospitals) in the US, and the right to tweak it to bring it to India. “It took a lot of time to understand how to do it right, but now, the health information exchange is our product. We can tweak it and sell it anywhere,” he elaborated.

Persistent and IMS, which provide services and technology to the healthcare industry, hope to begin the project by March and complete it within the year. Ultimately, IHIP is expected to predict a health emergency, improve the patient experience via a mobile application; and with precise information on disease profiles, it would eventually reduce the cost of government programmes. For instance, by targeting the pre-hypertension population, the government would be able to prevent hypertension and reduce the financial burden of cardiovascular diseases.

Persistent Systems, which earned Rs 2,878 crore ($ 454 million) in 2016-17, brings in much-vaunted and critiqued capability. That of building health information exchanges in the US, the bedrock of former US President Barack Obama’s health care policy, Obamacare. But Obamacare didn’t have a smooth ride in the US; IHIP may have a rough ride in India, too. One of the major challenges in implementing Obamacare in the US has been pushing doctors and hospitals to collect electronic health records (EHR). In India, apart from other things, EHR, which is rudimentary and rare, also varies from hospital to hospital. More importantly, the excitement within the health ministry isn’t reciprocated by the doctors who interact with the patients.

Real-time info can prevent a crisis, only if it is collected

The whiteboard in Pramod Jacob’s cubicle has an illustration—the spread of Ebola virus from one village to a few towns and then to cities across the world.

AUTHOR

Ruhi Kandhari

Ruhi writes on the impact of healthcare policies, trends in the healthcare sector and developments on the implementation of Electronic Health Records in India. She has an M. Sc. in Development Studies from the London School of Economics.

View Full Profile

Subscribe to read this story

The Ken is the only business subscription you need. Questions?

 

Premium

  • 5 original and reported longform business stories every week
  • Access to ONLY India edition
  • Close to 250 exclusive stories every year
  • Full access to over 5 years of paywalled stories
  • Pick up to 5 premium subscriber newsletters
  • 4 original and reported longform business stories each week
  • Access to ONLY Southeast Asia edition
  • Close to 200 exclusive stories every year
  • Full access to all paywalled stories since March 2020
  • Pick up to 5 premium subscriber newsletters

Rs. 2,750 /year

$ 120 /year

India Edition
Subscribe Subscribe
Most Asked For

Borderless

  • 8 original and reported longform business stories each week
  • Access to both India and Southeast Asia editions
  • Close to 400 exclusive stories every year
  • Full access to over 5 years of paywalled stories across India and Southeast Asia
  • Unlimited access to all premium subscriber newsletters
  • Visual Stories

Rs. 4,200 /year

Subscribe
 

Echelon

  • 8 original and reported longform business stories each week
  • Access to both India and Southeast Asia editions
  • Close to 400 exclusive stories every year
  • Full access to over 5 years of paywalled stories across India and Southeast Asia
  • Unlimited access to all premium subscriber newsletters
  • Visual Stories
  • Bonus annual gift subscription
  • Priority access to all new products and features

Rs. 8,474 /year

Subscribe
Or

Questions?

What kind of subscription plans do you offer?

We have three types of subscriptions
- Premium which gives you access to either the India or the Southeast Asia edition.
- Borderless which gives you complete access to The Ken across both editions
- Echelon which gives you complete access to The Ken across both editions along with a bonus gift subscription

What do I get if I subscribe?

The Premium edition gives you access to stories in that edition along with any five subscriber-only newsletters of your choice.

The Borderless and Echelon subscription gives you complete access to The Ken across editions and unlimited access to as many newsletters as you like.

What topics do you usually write about?

We publish sharp, original and reported stories on technology, business and healthcare. Our stories are forward-looking, analytical and directional — supported by data, visualisations and infographics. We use language and narrative that is accessible to even lay readers. And we optimise for quality over quantity, every single time.

Our specialised subscriber-only newsletters are written by our expert, award-winning journalists and cover a range of topics across finance, retail, clean energy, cryptocurrency, ed-tech and many more.

How many newsletters do you have?

We are constantly adding specialised subscriber-only newsletters all the time. All of these are written by our team of award-winning journalists on a specialised topic.

You can see the list of newsletters that we publish over here.

Does a Premium subscription to your Indian edition get me access to the Southeast Asia edition? Or vice-versa?

Afraid not. Each edition is separate with its own subscription plan. The India edition publishes stories focused on India. The Southeast Asia edition is focused on Southeast Asia. We may occasionally cross-publish stories from one edition to the other.

We recommend the Borderless or the Echelon Plan which will give you access to stories across both editions.

Do you have a mobile app?

Yes! We have a top-rated mobile app on both iOS and Android which allows you to read on-the-go and has some amazing features like the ability to bookmark stories, save on your device, dark mode, and much more. It’s really the best way to read The Ken.

Is there a free trial?

You can sign up for a free account to experience The Ken and understand our products better. We’ll send you some free stories and newsletters occasionally, and you can access our archive of previously published free stories. You can stay on the free account as long as you’d like.

The vast majority of our stories, articles and newsletters can be accessed only by a paid subscription.

Do you offer any discounts?

Sorry, no. Our journalism is funded completely by our subscribers. We believe that quality journalism comes at a price, and readers trust and pay us so that we can remain independent.

Do you offer refunds?

No. We allow you to sample our journalism for free before signing up, and after you do, we stand by its quality. But we do not offer refunds.

I am facing some trouble purchasing a subscription. What can I do?

Just write to us at support@the-ken.com with details. We’ll help you out.

I have a few more questions. How can I reach out to you?

Sure. Just email us at info@the-ken.com or follow us on Twitter.