“Regulatory framework for digital healthcare is a necessity in India”

Mentioned Margaret Faux, CEO, Synapse Medical Services, a regular contributor to Australia’s health reform debate who was recently in New Delhi to attend the second edition of Australia Business Week India 2017. Read her exclusive conversation with the BioVoice  

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Margaret’s vision for a diversified service provider that would free doctors from medical administration was realised with the foundation of Synapse in 2009. She is currently completing a PhD at UTS on Medicare claiming and compliance.

In walking the path from batched payments, vouchers and reams of paper to a streamlined electronic payment system, Margaret Faux, Chief Executive Officer, Synapse Medical Services developed a formidable knowledge of the Australian Medicare-based claims system and a passion for delivering quality support services. Here in a chat with BioVoice, she talks about the reasons behind establishing an office in India, digital healthcare opportunities in the country and more


BV_icon-150x150Please tell our readers about your company, its India connection and the story behind establishing business here?

I have been coming to India since decades. Therefore, when I started my business in India there was no question of requiring any workforce here. In Australia, we have a small population and I knew that in India there were organization doing activities similar to what we do such as medical transcription. Then we decided to come over and tie up with some company here. That is how it began.

I set up Synapse in Australia during 2009. The company is currently one of the fast growing medical billing and transcription company. At Synapse, we think globally. We take our position as international providers of medical administration services very seriously. Synapse is proud to be the first Australian provider of medical billing, transcription and administrative services to achieve registration to ISO 9001 for the quality management system in our Sydney and Melbourne offices. We also have offices in Dubai and Chennai in India.

While we initially contracted companies in India, then I started of thinking to have my own office in India because it was difficult to control human resources through contract services. Quality, privacy and security was an issue since healthcare data was involved. When we were still thinking, around the same time Mr Narendra Modi had been elected and one of the first thing he said was that every Indian should have a bank account. And he implemented it quickly. That I must say gave me a confidence that India is surely making its move towards digital transformation. So, I decided to set up my office in Chennai in 2014.

BV_icon-150x150So how has been the experience in Chennai so far? What next?

Chennai is an amazing place and we have close to 100 people in our office there. We are recruiting constantly for the American clinical codes and we then train them accordingly to handle the codes be it American or Australian. We have expanded our service to Dubai and Saudi. Thanks to Indian office ,we have been able to cater to Middle East. Now, we are looking at Indian market as an opportunity. One of the challenges is that clinical coding in India. I have spoken to many organizations here and hopefully something will come out soon.

“We have a mature healthcare system and India has an emerging healthcare system. There is enough room for synergy in terms of knowledge, experience and what makes the system work better and what doesn’t”

BV_icon-150x150There is lot of data that lies under-utilized in public and private healthcare providers in India. What opportunities do you see for India and Australian partnership?

We are talking about digital health here. There is already lot of work that has happened in India in relation to digital health. Promoting and strengthening bilateral tries between Indian and Australia in the domain by utilizing each others skill sets could make a difference. We have a mature healthcare system and India has an emerging healthcare system. There is a room for synergy in terms of knowledge, experience and what makes the system work better and what doesn’t. It might be in the areas where we have gone wrong and where can India be cautious. India needs to strengthen its digital healthcare system. One of the challenges is that the you need to describe the unified health system coding.

BV_icon-150x150Usually, people are worried about the lack of privacy about their medical conditions or other details. How do you look at the healthcare data security?  

Healthcare data is security is a global issue and not just limited in India. While America has HIPAA that protects the data, Australia has similar kind of law. For India, the legislative changes in terms of regulatory framework for digital healthcare is a necessity. The recent Supreme Court judgment that talked about the need for data protection in case of Aadhaar is encouraging. Hopefully, soon there would be something concrete for healthcare data as well.

“India has incredible doctors who are serving people across the globe. Infact, if I may say that in case all these doctors chose to return back, many healthcare systems will collapse” 

BV_icon-150x150The telemedicine remains under utilized in India despite the fact that doctors aren’t available for consultations in remote areas? How can we upgrade the training and education?

To be able to cater to the vast population in India, the tele-health is a huge factor especially in the rural areas. Since the availability of doctors is an issue, the digital healthcare can offer an easy solution to a great extent. There is a lot of work and discussion happening here.

India has incredible doctors who are serving people across the globe. Infact, if I may say that in case all these doctors chose to return back, many healthcare systems will collapse. Although these doctors form a chunk of world’s health system but these India trained medics have done wonders abroad. So, one would say that the training of doctors isn’t much at fault in India. Nursing education in India is also a great. I have found that it is not the quality of training but the regulation of training that has to be looked at. The ability to manage the volumes of workforce. That is an opportunity for India and Australia to partner for establishment of medical colleges, nursing homes and hospitals.

BV_icon-150x150How did it feel to attend the second edition of Australia Business Week India 2017 at New Delhi? Any positive takeaways?

This was an exciting forum for strengthening relationship between India and Australia. Lot many people on this forum are committed to take this forward. What is exciting to me is that lot many companies that come here have experienced the same. 170 Australian companies were here to engage with Indian counterparts.