Interview with Veneeth Purushotaman

Group CIO, Aster DM Healthcare
Veneeth Purushotaman

May 20, 2021

What do you see as the CIO’s top priority? 

Our top priority is enabling business growth with due diligence on security. The days of simply overseeing corporate IT needs are long gone. Today’s CIO and his team must lead the crucial task of enabling an entire organisation to better serve its customers. They must champion the digital health of the organization while driving digital-first. There is so much opportunity, and it’s always a fine balance between enabling and at the same time ensuring that cutting-edge technology is explored and deployed when it makes business sense. Business sustainability and governance, with an eye on the regulatory aspects of healthcare, is another area that cannot be compromised.

How have you helped move the business forward? 

Technology is a core business priority. Healthcare technology is helping clinicians reach out to their patients and serve them during the pandemic. This is an excellent example of technology’s ability to keep clinicians safe but at the same time ensure they are available for patients. Patient care cannot suffer. Technology came to the rescue and delivered incredible value by implementing solutions like telehealth, remote monitoring, and remote ICU. These innovations ensured that the business could move forward with added revenue models even when the rest of the world was under lockdown. Aster was one of the first private players in GCC to introduce telehealth as a means of serving non-covid patients, and ever since there has been a phenomenal upscaling driven by demand. We deliver the best IT/ technology solutions while ensuring the solutions scale well over time.

What is your experience with digital transformation? 

Aster DM Healthcare has been leading a very aggressive Digital Transformation Journey across our markets. We are preparing for a leap forward in this digital age. We have been working on a large digital transformation project with leading technology players. We have engaged one of the Big Three management consulting firms as we develop our healthcare services platform. Our product pipeline is robust with unique healthcare solutions for this region.

Where do you see the industry heading in the next three to five years? 

Healthcare today is where the financial sector was a decade ago. The industry is going through a huge transformation. We see the conventional hospital continuing to play a role in treating chronically ill patients, with digital solutions playing a significant role in preventive and post-hospital care. Healthcare providers will realize 40% of their revenues generated through digital channels in the next three to five years. Patients will move seamlessly between the digital channels and traditional brick and mortar in their health and wellness needs. As they are saying “Healthcare has just left the building”; it will no more be about serving the patients within the catchment instead borderless and beyond boundaries. There will be some restrictions with regulations like GDPR and similar rules, which will keep the patient data safe and protected.

What’s your strategic plan for your current IT organization for one year, three years and five years out? 

We know our strengths. By solidifying our digital transformation layer, our core technical foundation, we can scale to 20X growth. Our strategy focuses on building best-of-class internal resources that will allow us to create proprietary branded solutions rather than off the shelf products. That said, our solution will likely dovetail the Enterprise Resource Planning solutions available in the market.

How do you stay current on innovations and trends? 

Keep communications open. Maintain a dialogue with technology leaders and healthcare leaders. Do you have a shared vision? The landscape is rapidly changing. How can we harness IoT, machine learning, AI, and analytics in improving healthcare throughout the UAE and the world? It is crucial to have a team continuously innovating and experimenting new technology ideas and solutions and looking for the proper use cases for deployment. It cannot be technology for its sake but only if the business users find a good use case and value in deploying the same. Innovation and technology advances must ultimately serve the needs of our patients. We can’t lose sight of the end game; what our patients’ needs, and how are we addressing those needs.

How do you engage and get buy-in from your diverse groups of stakeholders? 

Technology teams bear the responsibility to work with stakeholders and explore use cases. It is or should be their mission. If there is a problem or a need the technology team should work and look at the various options and tools available. There are no technology projects; there are only business projects. Business users and owners drive the demand for innovation. Technology teams work to ensure we have scalable solutions and the right partners implementing them.

How do you retain employees? 

First off, we hire the best; people who understand the technology and the specific business sectors for which they are being hired. Our development and ops teams are given the tools, direction, and freedom to pursue exciting new solutions. That is the best retention policy. We also have robust HR processes that continuously focus on Performance Appraisals, 360-degree feedback, Training Rewards, and Recognitions; these all ensure that we retain our best.

How do you upskill your employees? 

We have a very transparent and collaborative work environment. Team members are encouraged to interact and participate externally as well as network with their peers. The number of online programs and resources today is invaluable. We also have a robust Learning and Development Program led by HR, which works on continuous learning and improvement.

How do you support collaboration across departments? 

Our business verticals have a Technology Lead and a Function Lead. It’s a matrix that ensures that our C-level business requirements are addressed by technology at the vertical level while the more significant policies and governance are managed centrally. Collaboration is achieved by good control between business teams and the central team working closely with the CIO and the CEO’s office.