Shan Bhide joined SoftWriters earlier this year as VP of technology, where he will lead the product management, development, and quality assurance functions at the company. With post-graduate degrees in engineering and information technology and management, Bhide’s background encompasses all areas of software development. In this interview with ComputerTalk’s Maggie Lockwood, Bhide talks about how software development requires innovation and creativity, and the disruptive technologies that could transform pharmacy practice.
ComputerTalk: You’ve had a very diverse career in technology and consulting.
Shan Bhide: I spent the majority of my career at ANSYS Inc., an advanced engineering simulation software company. I was instrumental in creating and promoting cloud, web, and mobile interface-based simulation software products that would allow Fortune 500, blue-chip companies to collaborate, share, design, analyze, and simulate real-life product performance. Thereafter I joined Ness USA, a leading consultancy, custom software, and services company that serves clients across multiple industries and domains. I led an initiative to set up innovation centers or labs across the global development and product management teams. These labs offered the clients an opportunity to discover cutting-edge technical trends with guidance on how to turn disruptive, bleeding-edge technologies into new revenue streams.
CT: Healthcare certainly has the space for bleeding-edge technology.
Bhide: Absolutely! I’ve always had an interest in and was intrigued by the healthcare industry in general and the pharmacy domain in particular. I jumped right in when I was approached by SoftWriters to join their executive team to influence, shape, and build the state-of-the-art long-term care (LTC) software solutions. Kind of an opportunity to prepare for your own golden old days by building a dream LTC software solution!
CT: Smart thinking!
Bhide: Just kidding, but yes, the LTC domain seemed like a really interesting field to be in. I am so glad that I joined SoftWriters. It’s a hidden gem — niche software in healthcare — and there is a huge opportunity in front of us. Long-term care is a field where we can absolutely make a tremendous impact, and I’m looking forward to making my mark.
CT: Now that you are settled in, what are your primary goals?
Bhide: Making software, in my mind, is more of an art than a science. It takes so many different things, like teamwork, collaboration, thinking outside the box, and creativity, to build an amazing software solution. We are wrapping up an ambitious software re-architecting project that makes our FrameworkLTC suite of software products scalable and high performance by improving the quality. Finishing this project is my top priority. I want to improve the overall software development process, making it customer centric and agile so that we can respond to our customer requests quickly. I want to create a collaborative software solution that allows internal and consulting pharmacists to work together to offer the best clinical and financial services to LTC pharmacies.
CT: What innovations are you most excited to see the company develop?
Bhide: Our customers are looking to improve the basic tenets of their business and profitability. They want to maximize their margins, compete effectively, and grow efficiently. They want to adopt a patient-driven or patient-focused payment model. They are looking for efficient pay-for-performance systems. Essentially, they want to quantify the value of their clinical services. I see that we have a great opportunity to bring enhanced value to our customers in this area. Breaking down the silos between internal and consulting pharmacists and allowing them to collaborate with nursing staff using an integrated pharmacy platform could be huge. Adopting pharmacogenomic- based techniques to allow individualized or personalized medication could result in significant improvements in patient care outcomes. Enabling voice-assistant technology like Amazon Alexa or Google Home to generate audio reports based on interactive questions is another exciting possibility. I am very passionate about bleeding-edge technical innovations like these and the unique opportunity they presents to us. Leveraging newer numerical models like machine learning and artificial intelligence to improve overall clinical care and quality while protecting revenues and maximizing the profitability could be a game changer.
CT: That’s the trick right now in the industry. What is the magic sauce that will let long-term care pharmacy achieve the financial milestone of payment for clinical services.
Bhide: Absolutely. It is estimated that SoftWriters solutions touch lives of more than million patients.. These patients may be residing in different types of facilities focused on the type of care they offer. For example, Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs) or Alternate Living Facilities (ALF) or Hospice or even, in house patients. These patients may carry different reimbursement levels or plans based on their insurance type and treatment. Figuring out the right combination of treatment and claim data so that LTC pharmacies get paid optimally is the key. It also needs keen, timely analytic insight into many financial and operational variables that impact performance, including Claims and the reimbursement data. In the end, it is about protecting revenue and maximizing profitability by detecting billing and database errors, identifying underpayment and nonpayment of claims, and providing an actionable view of data-driven insights.
CT: Data puts pharmacists in a proactive role with patient care.
Bhide: Yes, and ultimately that’s going to result in improvements to the quality of service that pharmacies are going tooffer . Both from clinical and financial perspective! It makes everybody highly efficient. To predict adverse outcomes and offer a remediation before it becomes a real problem, is in the end going to contain healthcare costs. I think that is the secret sauce to improve the quality and value of the overall clinical service that the LTC pharmacies are providing to their patients. .
CT: As a change innovator, what additional disruptors do you see affecting healthcare or LTC pharmacy?
Bhide: I would say there are a couple of trends.. Personalized medicine is a great disruptor that is on the horizon. For example, drug doses at present don’t take into account that every patient is different — age, race, ethnicity, and then the DNA markup, and to some extent, there are some pre-existing conditions. This all plays a big role in the efficiency of the drug response. Another Interesting trend is drug-gene interaction, pharmacogenetics and pharmacogenomics. Both of these can play a big role in healthcare going forward. Software Solution providers In healthcare area have a huge opportunity to support these changes.
I would imagine that soon there will be drugs that interact with our wearable device and measure patients vital statistics. Very soon digital drugs will be consumables rather than wearables. They may be administered orally or subcutaneous. Either way, it will lead to real-time information on how a given drug is being metabolized or consumed by the body. Thisinformation can be fed right into the pharmacy management system. A consulting pharmacist could review the data and track the patient progress and see if there are any drug-drug interactions that need to be addressed in real time. We are headed towards a world of predictive analytics where real time data could be used to predict future behavior by using advanced analytics and numerical techniques..
Another disruptive technology likely to affect healthcare Is Blockchain. In lay man’s words, It Is a network of systems that allow immutable records of transactions. Once the records or transactions are entered In the system, they are not changeable, making them a source of truth that can’t be altered.
Machine learning, artificial Intelligence, predictive analytics, are some additional disruptors that are likely to Impact healthcare In a big way.
It’s such an exciting time to think about all these possibilities. These are many pieces of an emerging jigsaw puzzle. We don’t know yet which piece is going to fit where, and when, but we should be prepared to look at the big picture and accept the changes.
CT: And customers are excited for this kind of disruption?
Bhide: I think so. The patient profile and personas have changed already. Patients are now technology savvy and are online all the time, Patients are likely to expect the usage of newer technology to improve the quality of clinical treatment and outcome. I think our customers really understand this paradigm shift and are looking for solutions.This may not happen in Immediate future, but it’s a journey and may take Its own time to mature the landscape. One just has to understand what it means and plan for it so that we’re ready with the solutions when our customers are ready to adopt them. CT