Interview of the week: Nitin Gera

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COO, AiRo Digital Labs
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“Data Privacy and Protection is and will continue to be a main focus of the Health-Tech industry” – Nitin Gera, Co-founder and COO, AiRo Digital Labs LLC

Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of AiRo Digital Labs LLC , a Chicago headquartered Healthtech Company, Nitin Gera and his team with their focus on Digital 2.0 tech stack envision a major transition in heath care sector in next decade. In this interview, Nitin sat down with Ayottaz Data Privacy Insights for a wide-ranging conversation that covered his career path, his founding AiRo, and his opinion about Data Privacy in the HealthTech Sector. This edited version has been condensed for space and clarity.

Ayottaz: The role of Chief Operating Officer, at an organization with a presence in multiple countries, is a huge responsibility. Can you shed some light on the academic and professional journey that has led you to AiRO Digital Labs?

Nitin: I have done my engineering and MBA before becoming part of the IT Industry decade. I have worked in organizations like Mindtree, Birlasoft, and Mercer before embarking on my entrepreneurship journey which led me to AiRo Digital Labs in the role of COO.

Ayottaz: Tell us about AiRO’s offering and how it is different from its competitors?

Nitin: AiRo is an out and out Digital-born company in my opinion. We are focused on the Digital 2.0 tech stack which is what we believe will drive the transition across the world over the next decade.

Our differentiation from our competitors is our large focus and investment in the innovation lab. We have more than 150 prototypes built in this innovation factory which are built with a unique insight into industry challenges and using technology capabilities to solve those. Our customers like the fact that we “show and tell” about how we can help solve their business challenges rather than “talk and talk”!

 

Ayottaz: During our research about AiRO, we came across the Viki health product. Could you tell us more about how Viki helps to improve elderly care?

Nitin: ViKi is a unique product that germinated from our innovation lab setup. It is intended to be a health companion for the elderly and seniors, who can help them maintain their health with proactive interventions. These interventions are in terms of collating their vitals through monitoring devices like mobile/Fitbit, flagging off notifications to family members and medical attendants, and giving reminders for medication routine adherence.

All in all, ViKi is a product that is focused on the elderly/seniors and in current times, can aid them in the health maintenance with minimal human intervention!

 

Ayottaz: Healthcare data is governed by some of the most stringent laws across the world. Do you find it challenging to comply with the data privacy laws governing your firm’s operations? Please provide us with information about the measures in place to keep client data secure at AiRO Digital Labs?

Nitin: Data Privacy and Protection (DPP) are becoming the default operating principles for all industries across the globe. This means that all systems and processes need to be built with DPP as one of the core principles rather than an afterthought.

When we designed and built ViKi, we made sure that DPP considerations were factored in right from word go. We built the application, and its underlying hosting system with HIPAA compliances in mind, did the appropriate level of encryption for both at-rest and in-transit data! So, the product is working with inherent DPP practices and principles at play all throughout the operations.

 

Ayottaz: It only takes one slip for a company to face heavy penalties when it comes to data privacy violations. How important is it to train the non-technical employees, within a workforce, in data protection and privacy?

Nitin: I think DPP as a way of everyday operations should be known, understood, and remembered by all folks within the organization. Many of the practices are based on the need for each individual to follow basic behaviour which allows the bigger organization to be compliant. In line with this philosophy, we look at ensuring the training and learning happens across all folks in the organization, whether in sales, operations, or customer service.

 

Ayottaz: What are your thoughts on the increased adoption of Big Data in the healthcare industry? Do you foresee any potential pitfalls, especially with regards to data privacy, that might arise from this trend?

Nitin: Big Data has been a buzz word for many years now. It started as a way of collating and making data available in a big volume to the organization. The utility of this was to be able to let organizations identify new trends, patterns, and be able to monetize them. However, the promise from the initial days has not really held up as much. This is not to say that adoption will not increase, but I think it will need to go hand-in-hand with the business outcomes delivery.

In terms of DPP, I do not see that as a problem at all with the adoption of Big Data and associated technologies. All the platforms and technologies out there are maturing every day and keeping pace with DPP developments. So, from my perspective, the underlying capabilities are a non-issue. However, that said, organizations need to take a well-educated view of implementation, since technology can only be as good as people handling it!

 

Ayottaz: From your experience, is a service provider’s ability to handle data securely and confidentially a differentiating factor within the healthcare industry? If yes, are clients willing to pay more for a service provider that offers these capabilities?

Nitin: I am not sure that DPP capabilities can ever be a differentiator honestly. From my perspective, this is a basic hygiene that has to be in place. Not taking care of DPP can be a problem or a negative mark but having one makes you at par with expectations.

 

Ayottaz: You have had quite a luminous career and you are very well respected in the industry. What advice would you give to upcoming entrepreneurs in the health tech space?

Nitin: I think the advice is simple, there are lots of problems to be solved in the world. Often enough, entrepreneurs start focusing on the charm of a start-up, or wealth they can build which all become a distraction from the main purpose. If on the other hand, you solve a big enough problem and do it well enough, the claim, wealth and recognition all follow easily. Specifically, in the healthcare industry, this is truer than any other place, since healthcare is not yet as matured in technology adoption as many other industries like Banking, insurance etc.

 

Ayottaz: In your opinion, how will data privacy impact the HealthTech industry in the next 5-10 years?

From my perspective, DPP is and will continue to be the main focus of the HealthTech industry. However, there will be a technology-driven adherence to the same, which will enable newer health solutions to be available to the public. An example in case is Telemedicine, which was not considered an interest area until a few months back. This is now becoming a norm for the medical consultation world over, all due to technology providing comfort related to DPP, which makes it easier for patients and practitioners to get together and interact. Similarly, radiology will see technology making diagnosis easier, which will enable practitioners to focus more on the intricacies of treatment.

So, to summarize, technology will enable DPP compliances easier and move into the background as a given, thereby enabling the health tech industry too.

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