Real human connection requires deliberate effort: Prasad Menon

Real human connection requires deliberate effort: Prasad Menon

Prasad Menon, Leader – People and Culture, Edifecs, speaks with Human Capital about how technology is aiding the healthcare industry face up to the toughest of times and how COVID-19 has dramatically sped up the digital revolution in healthcare. He also discusses the top skills that will be in demand in the healthcare IT industry, how data can illuminate critical insights, and the ways HR leaders can help their organisations emerge better positioned for the future.


The healthcare industry has been under a lot of pressure since the pandemic, and technology companies are playing an increasingly pivotal role within the healthcare system to transform and shape the industry. How is the ongoing crisis changing the healthcare IT industry broadly?


The pandemic has been a wake-up call for our healthcare system. We need to be better prepared for this sort of situation—for when, not if, it happens again. It will take strong leadership, clear direction, and a well-defined call to action to keep our communities safe.


The pandemic phase has seen accelerated digitisation of the healthcare industry and the emergence of new models of tech-pivoted solutions that have shown compelling possibilities of making healthcare more accessible, affordable, and real-time. This has been the core mission of Edifecs, with a deep belief that technology can revolutionise healthcare.


I witnessed firsthand the power of technology in shaping the healthcare industry with the opportunity to serve as the CHRO (pro-bono) for CoronaSafe Network. It is an open-source disaster management platform designed by a multi-disciplinary team of 200+ engineers and 50+ of India’s leading professionals in collaboration with the Kerala government to tackle the current pandemic and future disasters. As of 15th March 2021, over 125K + COVID patients have been managed with over 2 lakh telemedicine calls and 346 healthcare facilities using the solution.


Telehealth has emerged as a highly viable means of connecting disparate healthcare systems and partners to provide ubiquitous care and patient-care solutions. The capabilities to layer intelligence through real-time information give the competence to manage and aid decision-making for the best utilisation of health assets.


We’ve spoken with many leaders who have pointed out that 2020 was the year HR really stepped into the spotlight. How do you think about the role of HR in the healthcare IT industry moving forward?


The pandemic has made us all feel more human and humbler. It has not only heightened the value of our connections with others but also magnified how vulnerable we all are. I have learned that real human connection requires deliberate effort. As HR, we often serve as the connectors in our organisation. Regular, robust communication and transparency are crucial to building and reinforcing these connections. We must take the skills we’ve acquired and refined with our fully remote teams and apply them even as we head back into the office together.


At Edifecs, we have a strong focus on associate well-being. We have an onsite well-being centre that offers daily classes, including yoga, nutrition, education, meditation, and cooking, for all our associates and their families. During the pandemic, we were able to move the majority of these offerings online and even add additional classes from experts around the world. As HR leaders, we must carry this nimbleness into the future to adapt and support our associates’ needs.


The pandemic has dried up some roles while making others sought-after. What will be the top job drivers in the healthcare IT industry — now and after COVID-19 abates?


The healthcare industry is recognising the need to have shareable data across the care continuum from different providers and different payers. Having the IT talent to help build the underlying solutions to enable this data sharing will be a sought-after skill.


Further, there are mountains of data that can be applied for a myriad of uses. We can tap data to better understand the best course of care at the lowest cost or apply social determinants of health to good care. There have even been instances of data pulled from social media, where users with angry tweets were at proven higher risk of heart disease. Having the ability to de-silo and connect data points to turn data into knowledge will be a huge skill moving forward in our industry.


Today, HR leaders need to be part futurists, constantly having to see around corners and be better prepared for impending changes. Which work trends do you believe will take centre stage in the healthcare IT industry post-COVID-19?


We will not go back to our ‘old normal’, and the ‘new normal’ is already being lived. I believe we will witness more hybrid work models that leverage part-virtual and part-physical working. It combines the power of opening your talent pool to any geography while reimagining the physical workplace to strengthen cultural connections. This calls for reimagining every aspect of the employee life cycle and driving new approaches to collaboration, engagement, and keeping emotional connectedness.


A new mindset is now needed to drive employee and business success. The pandemic-induced isolation has created an immense need to focus on employees’ mental health and well-being and drawing them as the integral core of employee engagement strategies. The fact is that even employees have taken a bigger cause in the matter regarding their health and well-being than ever before.


Looking back over the past year and all that you have overcome, what’s one lesson from the crisis you’d like to share with HR leaders in the healthcare IT industry?


We are all connected—not only by social media and the global nature of business—but physically, too, as evidenced by the rapid spread of virus around the globe. We need to think on a global scale and understand that we are all interconnected. This will help us address and manage future pandemics—and learn from and help one another.







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