Apollo Remote Healthcare CEO, Mr. Vikram Thaploo has received the prestigious “CEO of the year” Healthcare Achievers and Leadership Awards 2017.He has been recognized for his immense contribution in the field of Healthcare through quality improvement, Strategic perspective, and patient-centered care through the latest Telemedicine Technology.
The award was presented by Alistair Schofield, Director, MyBrain International, UK and Ms. Gill McKay, Partner, MyBrain International, UK.
Mr. Vikram, with about two decades of experience, possesses all the qualities of a good leader, including problem-solving ability, long-term vision, persistent approach, innovation etc. He is renowned as a people person.
Mr Thaploo stated in a conversation “We know that healthcare delivery is shifting from hospitals to patients in their households. In a country like India where time is a rare luxury and health is a forgotten necessity, we need quality healthcare expert 24 X 7 X 365 provided by a holistic healthcare service provider who can monitor and manage health round the clock and is accessible at all times. Quality Healthcare for all is our motto and to provide Continuum of care is our aim.”
He also believes that Technology oriented Healthcare is the only way to provide affordable and quality healthcare to the rural population, not only in India but across the globe. This belief has driven him towards establishing ‘Apollo Rural Connect’ Program and work tirelessly towards making healthcare accessible in remote locations.
Mr.Vikram In a candid conversation with IndianCEO
Where do you see Apollo remote care reaching in next 5 years considering the evolving nature of telemedicine technology? Key Milestones achieved so far.
India, with its diverse landmass and huge population, is an ideal setting for telemedicine. In India, the doctor to patient ratio is 1:1700 with most doctors living in urban areas. Easy accessibility of quality healthcare and affordability at large are the biggest challenges faced by Indian Healthcare system. For this, not just telemedicine but “Telehealth” as a whole will surely play a major role to transform the Indian Healthcare system.
“Telehealth” is becoming fast acceptable inter-disciplinary area, in which electronic information and communication technology is used to deliver health and medical information and services over large and small distances. Yes, indeed its continuous evolving field as lots of technology and equipment upgrade every year with new features and forms, making it an exciting vertical to work for.
When I joined Apollo Hospitals to set up Apollo Telehealth as Chief Executive Officer in 2010, it was very clear to me that some of the challenges faced by the healthcare system in India could only be solved by utilizing alternate channels of healthcare delivery (Telehealth) and using Healthcare IT innovations (Connected Health).Thus in order to bridge the gap in doctor-patient ratio and improve access to healthcare, we worked towards a transition of care delivery from curative to preventive, from hospitals to clinics to homes using Virtual care. We have enabled patients from across the world, even in remote and inaccessible areas, to connect to Apollo’s experienced and qualified doctors from the patients’ neighborhood, saving them unnecessary expense in travel and time.
My firm belief in the Remote Healthcare initiative and evidence of the great impact of Telehealth led us to collaborate with Governments/ SPVs/ Private Partners to deliver virtual care. Through our “Rural Connect” Program, we have reached out to 60,000 Gram Panchayat level under the aegis of the “Digital India” Initiative of the Government of India and help them become Rural TeleClinics; thereby enabling around 30 crore Indian population to get access to quality primary care virtually.
Thus, with this journey and keeping in mind the statistics and business opportunities, I see Apollo Telehealth as the pioneer organization for not just exploring the different opportunities in Telemedicine but acting as Principal teaching organization in the field of Telehealth for other organizations in India.
The vision of Apollo Telehealth is in sync with WHO vision “Health for All by the Year 2020–A Sustainable World must be a Healthy World”. Thereby I see a 5-year vision as “providing healthcare to a wide base of the population using modern Telehealth technologies in cost effective and convenient ways”.
Key Milestones include:
- 164 eUPHC centers across Andhra Pradesh in a PPP model.
- 115 TeleOpthal centers across Andhra Pradesh in a PPP model.
- Tele Emergency care in Himachal Pradesh – which provides the much-needed emergency, specialty, and super-specialty consultation services to Kaza and Keylong at 13,200 feet in the Himalayan mountain range.
- 60000 centers across the country -CSC (Common service centers)
- NCD Screenings at National Level: CSR implementation initiatives for various firms like Landmark group, Bharti cement, etc for Non-communicable, Breast screening and consultations through Apollo’s telemedicine platform.
- Tele Emergency Services in PSUs at different locations.
- Around 120+ Teleclinics in various parts of the globe present in 17 countries.
Is India still in its nascent stage of implementing TeleHealth Programs? How is the future outlook?
Telemedicine sounds new to Indian healthcare but the foundation activities in India were started in 1999 when Indian Space Research Organization had deployed V-SAT and Apollo’s first Telemedicine centre was inaugurated by Mr Bill Clinton ( The President of USA ).Various government agencies—Department of Information Technology and Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, state governments, premier medical and technical institutions of India—have taken initiatives with the aim to provide quality healthcare facilities to the rural and remote parts of the country. The Government of India has planned and implemented various national-level projects and also extended telemedicine services to South Asian and African countries.
A classic example of such projects includes e-UPHC, where a PPP model between Andhra Pradesh government and Apollo Telehealth services were established for 164 centres across Andra Pradesh.
To support telemedicine activities within the country, the Department of Information Technology has defined the Standards for Telemedicine Systems and the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has constituted the National Telemedicine Task Force. There are various government and private telemedicine solution providers and a few societies and associations actively engaged to create awareness about telemedicine within the country. With its large medical and IT manpower and expertise in these areas, India holds great promise and has emerged as a leader in the field of telemedicine.
Since the application of telemedicine has certain limitations like connectivity issues, cannot be used for critical care, requires certified equipment and technologies, regulatory reforms etc, hence the implementation may face certain challenges, but indeed it’s doable. We at Apollo Telehealth have already explored it, overcome the challenges and got the learnings, through which we are progressing towards achieving bigger milestones.
Everything that begins is always in the nascent stage which later transforms into bigger and finer version of itself. Since long, Global establishments, as well as governments, are putting efforts with Remote Healthcare initiatives like “Digital Health, eHealth, Connected Health, Smart Health etc”. Hence, Remote Healthcare will surely emerge as an integral part of healthcare delivery.In this dynamic technology era, telehealth is indeed the next solution to “Comprehensive Healthcare”. The focus is not just curative now its been multiplied to preventive, diagnostic and rehabilitative care. It has already come up with its diversified forms like Home Healthcare, POCT (point of care testing), IoT, IoM, IoHT(Internet of Healthcare things) and wearable fitness devices. As stated by I Scoop magazine, by 2019, 87% of total healthcare organizations will have adopted IoT technology. App-driven platforms, software, BoT enabled technologies will be helpful in bringing the Telehealth concept in Healthcare to its right place. The future of Remote Healthcare is certainly bright.
Considering the fact that Indian CEO is a platform for young entrepreneurs and startup CEO’s. Can you share your advice for aspiring entrepreneurs in Healthcare?
The world needs new entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs create jobs, lift the standard of living, usher new technology into society, and keep competition alive in the marketplace. Starting a business is difficult, and it’s crucial that the next generation has as much ammunition as possible. We are all relying on young entrepreneurs to carry on the proud tradition of innovation. There are few qualities that I believe will help all the young entrepreneurs to grow –
- Challenge yourself- The biggest motivation is keep challenging yourself. Keep learning each day. Thirst of learning something new every day should always be there.
- Take the risk – We never know the outcome of our efforts unless we actually do it. One should not feel afraid of taking a risk in business. I feel that one should not regret taking a risk instead of not taking a risk at all.
- Believe in yourself – According to me, people who believe in themselves have more success rate because they find their ways to overcome obstacles.
- Clear Vision & Goals- Young entrepreneurs must have a clear vision and a desire to create it. It helps you move in the right direction. Know your goals Set goals and remind yourself of them each day.
- Take Action- The world is full of great ideas, but success only comes through action. So stop talking and start doing. This is the shortcut of success according to me.
- Know your customers and take inputs from them to grow in business, believe in consumer centricity.
- Adapt to change quickly, agility is the mantra.
Last but not the least smart work and persistence play a crucial role in achieving your goals.
What kind of Health tech startups interest Apollo?
We have seen all the turmoil of positive and challenging events during our journey which has given us the insight of various associations that can happen in future. Since Telehealth involves technology the following Health tech startups would be of interest;
- Softwares for Advanced Telemedicine (with comprehensive solution on specialties and loaded with AI)
- Various connected Medical Devices for screening, diagnosis, monitoring, and surveillance- Enabling Connected Health
- Point of care testing – Smart devices
- Tele-pathology/Lab devices etc
- IoTs and BoT enabled devices and platforms
- Wearable and fitness devices
- Smart Sensors
- Drones which can be used for medical purposes.