HPE helps India improve healthcare with eHealth Centers

MARCH 21, 2023 • Q&A

               

300+ eHealth Centers in 22 states, serve six million+ citizens; and help eradicate rare diseases like tuberculosis, hepatitis, and measles

India is home to more than 1.4 billion citizens and 14,000 HPE team members and while India has one of the largest Healthcare Systems in the world. There are still gaps in care, especially in rural areas and underserved communities. When routine healthcare became a crisis situation during the Covid pandemic, HPE had the systems in place to help.

We asked, Ankur Malhotra, Director of Corporate Affairs and Corporate Social Responsibility, to speak to us about HPE’s impact in India during the pandemic and what’s next.

How did HPE become involved in eHealth Centers in 2012?

At HPE, we believe in transforming not only the way people work but also how they live. Our eHealth initiative was based on this vision. In 2012, our PointNext team was working on several solutions for the healthcare sector and had designed an open-source, cloud-based eHealth application which was adopted by the Corporate Social Responsibility team to deploy our first version of eHealth Centers. The idea was to provide quality healthcare to the most vulnerable section of our society and fill the void that exists in India with regards to primary healthcare.

How soon did we realize the centers needed to change from routine patient health to pandemic response?

In May 2020, we realized that our traditional eHealth Centers can play a role in mitigating the effects of Covid which was raging across India. Most hospitals were swamped with Covid patients and people with non-Covid diseases were being turned away from the hospitals. The public health ecosystem of the government was stretched to its limits. The need was to fill in the gaps which were created due to Covid, especially around outpatient treatments and testing. That was the time we started working with various government agencies to reorient our eHealth Centers into isolation centers and testing labs.

It took just over two months for HPE to design and deploy Covid-19 vaccination centers, what was that process like?

We were already working with the Institute for Genomics & Integrated Biology (IGIB) for our eHealth Centers, which is also the nodal agency for defining various protocols for Covid in India. They became our guide to design the Covid outpatient departments and test labs. We deployed 10 units to start with, designing them while being mindful to the ever-evolving Covid protocols.

By end of 2020, when the vaccination programs across the world were picking up momentum, we consulted IGIB again to see how we could contribute to the upcoming countrywide vaccination program. Once again, our existing network of eHealth Centers were evaluated, and we proceeded with converting them into vaccination centers using the guidelines issued by IGIB and other governmental agencies. As all our existing eHealth Centers were already cloud-enabled and had a biometric-enabled application running, so we were also able to seamlessly integrate with the CoWin network, the Indian government’s platform to digitally track vaccination status against common preventable diseases.

The technology implemented in the health centers can be integrated into any healthcare ecosystem and are reconfigurable for post-Covid health care needs. Is this currently happening?

Yes, it is. We have already reconverted several vaccination centers back into eHealth Centers with additional tech and equipment. We are also building linkages with governmental eHealth platforms like e-Sanjeevani to ensure that our network is fully integrated with the national public health infrastructure. In the coming months, more than 500 eHealth Centers will be fully functional and integrated into the national health pipeline.

What is next for our part in serving the underprivileged in India?

We are working with the United States Agency for International Development to utilize our eHealth Centers for tuberculosis detection and diagnosis. We are also creating a new concept called Health ATMs which would be a condensed version of our eHealth Centers. These Health ATMs would be able to support more than 50 diagnostic tests, have provisions for telemedicine and can be deployed anywhere, quickly. The idea is to reach those remote locations where traditional healthcare infrastructure does not exist today. 

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