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Rajan Kohli, CEO of CitiusTech – Interview Series

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Rajan Kohli is the Chief Executive Officer of CitiusTech and is responsible for the strategic direction of the company and further CitiusTech’s mission of accelerating healthcare technology innovation and driving long-term value for clients. Rajan is a highly accomplished technology services industry executive with experience across digital transformation, application and engineering services.

Prior to CitiusTech, Rajan has spent over 27 years at Wipro and most recently was the president of Wipro’s iDEAS (Integrated Digital, Engineering and Application Services) business. He led a global business line with revenues of USD 6 billion and committed to helping clients across the world accelerate their transformation and shift how they build and deliver digital products, services and experiences.

CitiusTech is a leading provider of consulting and digital technology to healthcare and life sciences companies. As strategic partners to the world’s leading payer, provider, MedTech, and life sciences companies, CitiusTech drives innovation, business transformation, and industry-wide convergence. They play a deep and meaningful role in accelerating digital innovation, driving sustainable value, and helping improve outcomes across the healthcare ecosystem.

What are the key elements required to successfully implement digital transformation strategies in healthcare and life sciences organizations?

The healthcare industry has struggled in its embrace of digital solutions, with successful digital transformation journeys sporadically occurring over the years. But with technology ready to fuel a paradigm-altering leap in patient care, it’s time for the industry to push past these challenges.

Digital Transformation has the potential to positively impact healthcare across all specialties. For example, specialty drug manufacturers juggle multiple demands springing from various stakeholders and the ecosystem to meet their constantly growing demand. Navigating this intricate network of stakeholders and the ecosystem does not come easy, and many of them look to leverage patient support hub services that offload these responsibilities from the drug manufacturers to manage these responsibilities and optimize client-drug performance. However, with patient hub services facing challenges regarding scalability and efficiency due to escalating volumes, many specialty drug manufacturers must embrace digital transformation strategies to streamline operations and bolster overall efficiency.

Implementing digital transformation in healthcare and life sciences requires a three – prong multifaceted approach.

  • Leadership commitment is essential to drive and sustain these initiatives, ensuring that there is a top-down endorsement and alignment with strategic goals. This means not only creating a clear vision and roadmap outlining specific objectives and milestones, but also investing in technology and innovative solutions.
  • Robust data management is another critical element. Establishing strong information governance frameworks ensures data quality, security and regulatory compliance. This includes defining data standards, policies and processes for data management, as well as leveraging advanced analytics and big data technologies to extract actionable insights from health data.
  • Interoperability is crucial for digital transformation, necessitating the adoption of industry standards like HL7, FHIR and DICOM to facilitate seamless data exchange between different systems and platforms. Utilizing integration platforms and middleware solutions can bridge disparate systems, ensuring smooth data flow and communication across the organization. By embracing interoperability fully, organizations will be able to drive more efficient, effective and patient-centric healthcare delivery.

But at the end of the day, digital transformations start and end with the patient. Healthcare organizations can automate as many processes as they would like, but if they don’t change the experience or the value that the patient receives, it will be especially difficult to find success. A patient-centric approach with the implementation of digital health solutions that enhance patient engagement, improve access to care and enable personalized treatment plans are essential.

How is generative AI currently being used to enhance healthcare treatments and improve patient outcomes?

Generative (Gen) AI offers transformative benefits across the healthcare ecosystem. For healthcare, an industry in which many of the pervasive challenges can be attributed to ineffective human-machine interactions, Gen AI has the power to bridge that gap and truly democratize healthcare.

This is especially true with personalized medicine. Developing treatment plans that are personalized to specific patients can be difficult and time consuming if done manually. By leveraging Gen AI, the algorithms analyze genetic data and patient histories to create personalized treatment plans tailored to the individual’s unique genetic makeup and medical history. Once the treatment plans are in place, patient access to AI-powered virtual health assistants is crucial, as patients have 24/7 access to medical advice, symptom checking and appointment scheduling, which improves patient engagement, more effective treatments, and better patient outcomes.

Gen AI is also playing a significant role in accelerating the drug approval and launch process. The pandemic showcased the potential for rapid drug development, driven by AI’s capabilities. Gen AI accelerates the development of new medications by simulating molecular interactions and predicting which compounds are likely to be effective. This significantly reduces the time and cost associated with traditional drug discovery methods. These AI-powered platforms can also generate potential drug candidates and optimize their chemical structures, expediting the process from concept to clinical trials.

Gen AI algorithms are enhancing the accuracy of medical imaging as well, improving image quality and assisting in the detection of anomalies. In doing so, it facilitates early diagnosis and treatment of conditions such as cancer, significantly improving patient outcomes.

Lastly, predictive analytics powered by Gen AI have groundbreaking potential. Predictive Gen AI models analyze vast amounts of health data to predict disease outbreaks, patient readmissions and potential complications, enabling proactive intervention and better management of chronic diseases.

In what ways can generative AI help in reducing mundane tasks for healthcare professionals, thereby allowing them to focus more on patient care and innovation?

Gen AI can significantly reduce the burden of mundane tasks for healthcare professionals such as clinical documentation, scheduling appointments, managing medical records, and processing insurance claims. Healthcare professionals are free to concentrate on patient care and innovation.

For example, healthcare professionals rely heavily on Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) for safer and more consistent healthcare delivery but doing so requires these individuals to constantly navigate between their narrative-based understanding of patient histories and symptoms, and EMRs' structured data presentation. Gen AI bridges this gap and significantly reduces cognitive overload for healthcare professionals by summarizing patient history and automating manual tasks, freeing up valuable time for more personalized patient care.

Clinical decision support systems leverage AI to provide healthcare professionals with evidence-based recommendations, alerts, and reminders. These systems analyze patient data and medical literature to offer insights that aid in diagnosis and treatment planning, enhancing clinical outcomes and reducing the cognitive load on healthcare providers.

Remote monitoring technologies, powered by AI, continuously track patients' vital signs and health status, allowing for real-time health assessments without the need for frequent in-person visits. This improves patient convenience and enables early detection of potential health issues, leading to prompt interventions and better management of chronic conditions.

Gen AI augments human potential improving job satisfaction for healthcare professionals, more on innovative care delivery and patient satisfaction.

What measures can be taken to maximize the effectiveness of Gen AI solutions in monitoring quality and ensuring trust in healthcare decisions?

Quality and trust have become critical points of discussion across the healthcare industry amidst the rapid growth of Gen AI. It requires a robust focus on these issues to ensure benefits are realized responsibly. Among the measures that can be taken:

Privacy and Data Security: Ensuring patient privacy is essential, requiring meticulous anonymization of data and stringent cybersecurity measures to prevent unauthorized access and data breaches. Implementing robust encryption protocols and defense mechanisms against adversarial attacks can protect patient data, while clinicians must retain ultimate decision-making authority to safeguard against potential AI errors.

Maintaining Quality and Fairness: Gen AI systems can inadvertently perpetuate biases present in the training data, leading to disparities in healthcare outcomes. Implementing algorithms capable of eliminating bias, and continuously retraining AI systems to detect and mitigate biases is key.

Accountability and Transparency: Accountability in Gen AI-driven decisions involve multiple stakeholders, including developers, healthcare providers, and end users. Transparent, explainable AI models are necessary for informed decision-making. Developers must ensure that AI models are unbiased and secure, while healthcare providers need to understand that they remain accountable for the decisions made using AI recommendations. Implementing robust regulatory frameworks is essential to address liability issues and maintain trust.

Ethical Frameworks: Developing ethical frameworks for Gen AI is about fostering responsibility without stifling innovation. Healthcare players must proactively align with evolving ethical standards to ensure Gen AI applications are fair, responsible, and patient-focused. A human-in-the-loop approach, combined with responsible AI practices, can help achieve equitable healthcare outcomes while maximizing Gen AI's potential.

Platform-Based Quality and Trust Frameworks: Building quality and trust frameworks that integrate into existing quality management systems and align with regulatory recommendations is crucial. These frameworks should measure, validate, and monitor GenAI solutions to ensure consistent and trustworthy outcomes.

Earlier this year, we launched the CitiusTech Gen AI Quality and Trust Solution, the first end-to-end solution of its kind in healthcare. The solution can address these requirements by providing comprehensive validation, continuous monitoring and adherence to regulatory standards, guaranteeing the effectiveness and trustworthiness of Gen AI solutions in healthcare.

How can healthcare organizations work to identify and mitigate algorithmic and training data biases to ensure equitable care decisions?

Healthcare organizations must be extremely proactive in their approach. Using diverse and representative datasets during the training phase helps in reducing biases, ensuring that AI models perform well across different population groups. Implementing bias detection tools can help identify and address biases in AI models by analyzing the model’s outputs to detect any disparities in treatment recommendations or predictions.

Regular audits and reviews of AI systems help in identifying and correcting biases. This involves evaluating the system’s performance across various demographic groups and making necessary adjustments. Inclusive design and development, consisting of a diverse group of stakeholders in the design and development of AI solutions, ensures that different perspectives are considered, reducing the likelihood of biases. Lastly, education and training for employees on the potential biases in AI systems and how to address them is crucial in creating awareness and promoting the responsible use of AI.

How can healthcare organizations effectively use data on Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) to improve patient care, and what are the challenges in integrating this data into official diagnostic codes?

Integrating data on SDOH significantly improves patient care, but there are challenges to address. Comprehensive data collection is essential, including information such as socioeconomic status, education and environmental factors. This data provides insights into the social factors that influence patient health.

Data integration and interoperability are crucial for utilizing SDOH data effectively. Integrating this data into electronic health records (EHRs) and ensuring interoperability between different systems allows healthcare providers to have a holistic view of patient health, enabling personalized care plans. For instance, patients from low-income backgrounds or those living in areas with limited access to healthcare services may require additional support to manage chronic conditions. By incorporating SDOH data, healthcare organizations can develop targeted outreach programs, provide resources for transportation to medical appointments, and offer nutritional assistance to those in need.

Population health management is another area where SDOH data plays a critical role. By analyzing SDOH data at a community level, healthcare organizations can identify trends and patterns that inform public health strategies.

However, integrating SDOH data into official diagnostic codes presents an interoperability or standardization issue. is currently no universally accepted framework for coding SDOH data. Ensuring data quality is also difficult, as SDOH data often comes from various sources with differing levels of accuracy and completeness. Collaboration between healthcare organizations, policymakers, and technology vendors to establish standardized practices and ensure comprehensive data integration will be an important step in addressing these hurdles.

What are the main cybersecurity challenges faced by healthcare organizations, and how can they be addressed?

As we’ve seen over the past year, healthcare organizations are extremely vulnerable to cybersecurity threats. Data breaches and ransomware attacks are significant issues, requiring implementing robust encryption, multi-factor authentication and regular security audits to mitigate these threats. Legacy systems and software vulnerabilities are common in healthcare organizations, as many still use outdated systems. Regularly updating and patching software, as well as migrating to modern, secure platforms, is essential.

Insider threats, where employees with access to sensitive data, also pose significant risks. Implementing strict access controls, monitoring user activity, and providing cybersecurity training can play a significant role in preventing these issues. It’s critical to create a dedicated compliance team responsible for conducting regular security audits and risk assessments to identify vulnerabilities and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements such as HIPAA.

Potentially the most important measure is ongoing training and education for IT staff and healthcare professionals to protect against evolving cyber threats. Many of these threats exploit human vulnerabilities, so the more educated staff are about cybersecurity best practices, the more likely human error will be reduced, leading to more secure patient data.

What are the key ethical considerations that healthcare organizations must keep in mind when deploying AI solutions, and how can they navigate the pushback against AI implementations in hospitals?

This is one of the most important issues healthcare organizations must address, with a need to consider several ethical aspects and navigate potential pushback. Ensuring patient privacy and confidentiality is paramount, with AI solutions adhering to strict data protection regulations and employing robust security measures. Patients should be informed about the use of AI in their care and provide consent, involving an explanation of how AI will be used and the potential benefits and risks.

Bias and fairness are also crucial considerations. AI systems are designed to avoid biases and ensure equitable treatment for all patients, but as we know issues can arise here if organizations aren’t careful. That makes continuous monitoring and adjustment of these AI models supremely necessary to maintain fairness.

It’s also extremely important to be transparent about the use of AI and accountable for decisions made by AI systems, most notably by providing explanations for AI-driven decisions and establishing mechanisms for oversight.

Following through with all of that is a major step towards addressing concerns and resistance that both healthcare professionals and patients have towards implementation. But it’s also important to provide education around the implementation and benefits of AI, involving stakeholders in the AI implementation process, establishing a commitment towards taking a comprehensive approach centered around building trust, providing clear communication, and ensuring the ethical use of AI.

How can CitiusTech's solutions help healthcare organizations achieve seamless data integration and interoperability across various platforms and applications?

At CitiusTech, we’re able to power healthcare digital innovation, business transformation and industry-wide convergence for healthcare and life sciences companies across the globe. Our solutions are designed to achieve seamless data integration and interoperability across various platforms and applications. Our advanced integration platforms ensure that disparate systems communicate and share data effectively, facilitating seamless data exchange for a unified view of patient information.

For example, a major blue plan with over million members was looking to move beyond members’ claims data and manual chart chases and leverage clinical data to accelerate care gap closures. Seeking a solution that could utilize the clinical data effectively, they leveraged CitiusTech to seamlessly integrate clinical data from an array of EHRs and data aggregators, bringing $10 million in annual savings.

CitiusTech’s management solutions maintain data quality, security and compliance throughout the integration process to handle the complexities of healthcare data, including the integration and interoperability of diverse data sources and platforms.

The recently launched CitiusTech Gen AI Quality and Trust Solution, an end-to-end solution that further enhances data integration, ensures the reliability, accuracy and trustworthiness of AI-driven insights. The solution provides robust validation, continuous monitoring and adherence to regulatory standards, creating accurate, reliable, and compliant AI-driven data integration and analysis. This enables healthcare organizations to leverage AI effectively for improved decision-making and patient outcomes.

What future trends do you foresee in the integration of AI within healthcare and life sciences, and how is CitiusTech preparing to address these trends?

With the integration of AI within healthcare and life sciences rapidly growing, the increasing use of AI for predictive analytics and personalized medicine, enhancing operational efficiency through automation, and advancing medical imaging and diagnostics will have a significant impact on the industry.

At CitiusTech, we're staying ahead of these trends by continuously investing in R&D to stay at the forefront of AI advancements. As mentioned, we’ve developed Gen AI solutions such as our quality and trust tool, as well as other AI solutions that leverage the latest technologies to improve patient outcomes and operational efficiency. It is an essential priority to focus on ensuring the ethical and fair use of AI, addressing biases, and maintaining transparency and accountability in AI-driven decisions. It’s a priority for our team to stay updated with the latest AI trends ensuring we have the best resources available to help healthcare organizations navigate the evolving landscape of AI integration.

Thank you for the great interview, readers who wish to learn more should visit CitiusTech.

A founding partner of unite.AI & a member of the Forbes Technology Council, Antoine is a futurist who is passionate about the future of AI & robotics.

He is also the Founder of Securities.io, a website that focuses on investing in disruptive technology.