Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Indian Hospitals – Interesting Developments

Over the recent past, I have had the opportunity to visit several hospitals across India. With time at my hand and no specific agenda, I was mulling over what I should do. At one such moment, I decided that it would be worthwhile to enquire and observe (just out of curiosity) the nature of processes followed and the adoption of technology. In this endeavor, I spent ample time with operational folks in the insurance helpdesk and billing departments. And I was pleasantly surprised as I learnt some of the facts.
Listing below some interesting observations and developments that I found in these hospitals
* SMS confirmation of medical appointments
Mail acceptance of insurance policy details
Mail delivery of medical reports to the patients
A phone call to the patients in case of cancellation of the medical appointment due to unexpected non-availability of the doctors
Procurement and Availability of high end medical equipment (I will be writing more about these in upcoming blogs)
Felicitation with a Bravery award to kids who undergo surgeries and bear it all. I personally knew one the kids who received this award. And I know how happy it made her and her family. None of them really expected to receive an honor for undergoing a surgery. But then, yes! It was definitely well received and well deserved
Processes are neither well defined, nor documented, nor followed. There are more exceptions than norms. And yet, even in the largest hospitals everything appears to function smoothly. Of course, efficiency in completely questionable, but at least the engine is moving forward
* Consultation rates in some hospitals are based on your medical qualifications. For e.g.: Different rates for MD, DM
Consultation Rates have sky rocketed. From my observation, following are some of the rates:

A Class Hospital
B Class Hospital
Rs 500
Rs 300
Rs 400
Rs 300
Rs 500
Rs 400
Rs 400
Rs 300
A Class hospital – A modern hospital which has been set-up / invested significantly in up gradation after 2005, and has modern infrastructure and claims to have high end facilities
B Class hospital – A hospital which has been in existence from before 2005, and does not boast of very modern infrastructure or high end facilities

I wonder why pediatricians charge the highest consultation fees – Obviously, people are paying these amounts and hence hospitals continue to charge these rates. Simply goes to show that people are willing to spend any amount for the well being of their children.
Most of the doctors are not really affiliated to a single hospital. They are visiting consultants for several hospitals. In addition they own a private practice either at their residence or a private clinic. The consultation rates they charge for private practice is usually much lower than what they charge at the hospitals.

From whatever I have observed so far, here’s what I do believe:
1) There is great scope for adoption of technology in multiple dimensions of operation
2) There is a crying need and significant scope for process definition, process optimization, process efficiency and process improvements
And the more I look around, the more I read, the more I discuss with others, I am convinced that the two sectors which have phenomenal growth potential in India over the next decade are Health & Medical Care and Education.

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