Business Today

A prescription for growth

The healthcare sector is growing, fuelling demand for IT jobs.

Print Edition: October 19, 2008

India’s share of the global healthcare industry pie is increasing. With private healthcare players charting robust growth rates, the demand for IT professionals in healthcare is also witnessing an increase. Says Yeshasvini Ramaswamy, MD, e2e People Practices, a human capital development firm: “According to the government’s National Health Policy, the size of the health sector in India stands at $17 billion (Rs 78,200 crore), and accounts for approximately 5 per cent of GDP. This is expected to grow 13 per cent annually for the next five years. With such growth figures, the industry needs support to sustain itself.”

IT in healthcare: High demand of IT to fire the healthcare expansion plans
IT in healthcare: High demand of IT to fire the healthcare expansion plans
Such high growth rates are sustainable only on the back of a sound technology platform. The IT platform can be as basic as building employee databases to managing critical data. “Currently, the Indian healthcare sector is adding about 10,000 jobs for IT professionals every year,” she adds.

Fortis Healthcare is one of the healthcare players hiring IT professionals to drive its ambitious expansion plans. “We have 14 hospitals today; and we plan to take that figure to 40 by 2011. To keep up the pace of growth, we need the right systems in place. This support is coming in the form of IT services,” says Pankaj Mittal, VP (HR),Fortis Healthcare.

The IT piece is spread across functions—right from having a unique ID for every patient to having software like PACS (Picture Archiving and Communication Systems) for the storage of images on a common server to integrating all the hospitals through MedTrak application.

The healthcare sector is looking at talent and skills in systems (the softwares they are operating on and tech support), development, process management and implementation, and training. According to the Insurance Regulatory & Development Authority, the Indian healthcare industry can potentially grow at the same exponential rate that the software and pharmaceuticals industries have grown over the past decade. Says Ramaswamy: “Only 10 per cent of the market potential has been tapped till date. This is a pointer to future growth prospects.” Adds Kris Lakshmikanth, founder CEO & MD, The Headhunters India: “Healthcare (facilities), unlike banks, will not shut down. If at all, only the growth may slow down.”

Since growth in healthcare is driven by technology, it could well turn out to be the next big thing for IT professionals.

Fact box

Who’s hiring:
Healthcare players such as Apollo Hospitals, Fortis Healthcare and others.

Who’re they hiring:
Developers, people with experience in process management, ERP.

At what levels:
Software Engineer, Programme Manager, Systems Analyst.

At what salaries:
Software engineers (up to 3 years experience) get between Rs 4 lakh and 5 lakh per annum; Programme Managers (10 or more years of experience) get Rs 20 lakh per annum.

What are the numbers like:
The healthcare industry employs between 150,000-200,000 IT professionals. This is expected to grow at 25-30 per cent over the next three to four years.

Tejaswi Shekhawat

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