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The new areas include consultancy to the pharmaceuticals and hospital industry, advisory and data services to health insurance companies and government policy assistance.  (The new areas include consultancy to the pharmaceuticals and hospital industry, advisory and data services to health insurance companies and government policy assistance. )
The new areas include consultancy to the pharmaceuticals and hospital industry, advisory and data services to health insurance companies and government policy assistance.
(The new areas include consultancy to the pharmaceuticals and hospital industry, advisory and data services to health insurance companies and government policy assistance. )

IMS Health to broaden focus to hospital, insurance solutions

The firm plans fivefold increase in staff to about 1,500 as part of the move; has moved to bigger offices in Mumbai

Mumbai: Global pharma market researcher IMS Health Inc. is transforming itself into a health informatics and advisory company, expanding its service focus to the entire healthcare sector and marking a shift from the group’s positioning as a market data provider.

The new areas include consultancy to the pharmaceuticals and hospital industry, advisory and data services to health insurance companies and government policy assistance.

As part of this global transformation, the multinational group’s Indian arm, IMS Health Information and Consulting Services India Pvt. Ltd, is increasing its capabilities in terms of infrastructure, people and technology.

“India is one of the key markets for the company in this transition as there is a vacuum of such a niche player in the healthcare space," said Amit Backliwal, managing director, South Asia, IMS Health Inc.

“We will be ready to provide solutions to a wide range of healthcare stakeholders including drug manufacturers and supply chain, hospitals, insurance companies, medical device organizations and the law makers by the end of 2013," he said in interview on Wednesday.

“IMS Health’s business transition makes a lot of sense globally as the next phase of growth for a data provider," a healthcare expert with an international consultancy in Mumbai said on condition of anonymity. “In India, it gives the company a huge market that is still untapped and growing at a much faster pace."

The company plans to increase staffing fivefold to about 1,500 as part of the move and has moved to bigger offices in Mumbai.

IMS Health, the largest pharma market researcher and regarded as one of the most authentic sources for drug retail data in the world, has expanded its panel of doctors for prescription audits to 4,500 and its stockist network for trade audits to 6,000 in India.

Its clients are stakeholders in healthcare delivery, including drug and medical device makers, hospital chains, insurance firms and governments.

A new data processing office in Bangalore will carry out most of the back-end work of compiling data from primary information sources.

“We will double the team strength in client-facing positions to 100 by the end of this (calendar) year. And there will be another 200 people in various other business units, apart from 1,000 to 1,200 people in the delivery centre at Bangalore," said Backliwal.

The Bangalore delivery centre, which has been mostly catering to local market needs, will start handling international projects along with the development of business intelligence tools, he added.

The change in business focus comes with critical shifts in culture, policy and behaviour across the sector.

The Indian pharmaceutical sector, has limited scope for price growth despite a substantial increase in demand. This is mainly because of intense competition and a cost-containment efforts by governments.

Similarly, hospitals in India are still fighting to meet patient expectations despite an expanding private healthcare sector, better technology and skilled doctors. Intense competition, inadequate fraud detection and poor underwriting practices are challenges for the health insurance sector in spite of swelling demand, says an IMS Health note supporting its new business model.

IMS Health India, which recently completed a healthcare environment study covering at least 15,000 households across the country, also expects to be able to help the government allocate and utilize public funds in the most effective way to enhance patient access, which it sees as the most critical issue that the country faces.

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