Cerner digitisation impact in India hits one million
Cerner is on a path to enhance patient outcomes and improve healthcare across India through digitalisation. Alongside our partners, we are making great strides to achieve this goal, having met an important numerical milestone and received internationally recognised accreditation.
India’s public healthcare system structure consists of five tiers: district hospitals, community health centres (CHCs), primary health centres (PHCs), sub-centres, and ASHA/community health workers.
PHCs are the foundation and first point of access to a qualified doctor for patients in the public healthcare system, providing primary healthcare to even the most economically challenged people. There are approximately 30,000 PHCs throughout India.
Almost all PHCs still use paper-based methods for capturing data and will typically manage a population of between 20,000 and 30,000 people.
In India, corporate law states that companies must direct 2% of their average profit over the last three years towards corporate social responsibility (CSR) – activities focused on improving Indian communities. Companies then allocate their money toward their chosen CSR activities.
Cerner has chosen to spend its CSR funds to support the digitalisation of PHCs across India, knowing how much it would benefit healthcare in communities.
To get started, Cerner partnered with non-government organisations (NGOs) that manage PHCs to implement innovation. The largest of these partners manages about 73 PHCs, while others that look after varying amounts of organisations.
Figure 1: Nurse registering a patient in a PHC, India
So far, Cerner has digitalised 135 facilities – including 47 PHCs – across multiple Indian states. This has come in the form of our Cerner Millennium® EHR and other custom-developed software to meet the requirements of emerging markets. The team has overcome language barriers, lack of computer familiarity and limited available internet through multiple innovations.
And, while it has not been easy, those challenges are minor compared to the positive changes affecting patients' lives and communities. As Dr Suchitra Joyce, lead program manager of Cerner Smart Health shares:
“A good proportion of Cerner Smart Health go-live implementations have been in Indian rural areas, and I have had the privilege to lead a few of these. The rural population is mostly farmers or daily wage workers with little or no formal education. Health-seeking behaviour is low as the families depend on everyday earnings for survival. I saw patients directly benefit from shorter wait times, which meant daily wage earners had fewer hours away from work, equalling lower earnings losses. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the impact of digitalisation was not only on healthcare, but also indirectly on the economic condition of people.”
Figure 2: Intensivist monitoring patients in critical COVID care centre from a remote location
One of the PHCs digitised by Cerner recently received a HIMSS O-EMRAM Stage 6 certification – the first time a government healthcare facility in India has received this recognition.
Cerner has now been able to cater to over one million patient visits across different digital solution platforms implemented at health facilities in India.
Our solutions and implementations are expected to provide the necessary launchpad to achieve the aim of National Digital Health Mission, constituted by government of India to connect medical practitioners and patients digitally, and to promote stable and well-structured healthcare across the nation. We have already built a very strong foundation towards making connected care and digital health records a reality in India.