By Dr.Sarang Goel
The adage ‘Health is Wealth’ found true meaning during the pandemic. Today, majority of the people have shifted their habits and have found ways to be healthier than they used to be. Multiple studies have shown that there was disruption of healthcare services during the pandemic with an overall 87% decrease in non-COVID related healthcare services between mid-Feb to May 2020.
This decrease in hospital footfall was greatly seen around out-patient visits for regular check-ups, new admissions, surgical procedures, diagnostics and therapeutics. This was also very prominent in cases where patients needed continuous care like in non-communicable diseases like cancer, respiratory illnesses, kidney disorders, and uncontrolled diabetes, amongst others.2 One of the main issues that unfolded during the second wave of the pandemic was the lack of infrastructure and limited healthcare access due to a few large hospitals that provided the required care to the public at large – making them inaccessible to the majority.
While the world is attempting to get back to the ‘now normal’, the healthcare industry as a whole, has reinvented itself to be prepared for the next wave of infectious diseases. In India, with the revision in law associated with telemedicine and online pharmacies, diagnostic services and other healthcare delivery and service models, the digital uptake of healthcare services became unprecedented. However, this is not without its limitations. Nothing can replace a face-to-face visit to the doctor starting with a general physical examination followed by diagnostic procedures to get to the bottom of the ailment.
Led by the need of healthcare consumers (patients and caregivers) to get the most appropriate clinical care for their ailment at the most reasonable and transparent pricing, at a location that is near their home, has resulted in the development of an asset-light integrator model of healthcare delivery. This is and will remain the future model of healthcare.
However, it is important to manage and maintain the quality of patient care across the network of hospitals. This can be done by following the patient-centred and organisation centred steps. Hospitals should follow a set of defined standard operating procedures that ensures that once the patient enters the hospital, they are appropriately assessed and matched with the health care staff that is appropriately trained to meet the needs of the patient.
Regularly updated clinical care protocols have to be followed to provide optimal care to the patients that come to the healthcare facility. This includes mandating and managing the patient rights and caregiver responsibilities through the right to information and education about their healthcare needs. There should be a process of following the policies and procedures to ensure the availability, storage, dispensing and administration of medications through prescription and documentation across the departments of the hospital.
The development and adherence to nationally accepted and approved guidelines to effectively control infections in the hospital through standard cleaning, disinfection and sterilisation protocols is another most important aspect to be considered.
Ensuring clinical excellence is a continuous process and has to be regularly updated through careful evaluation of data. Continuous improvement will ensure that the model of asset-light integrated hospital chains will keep increasing across the country to address the problems associated with timely patient accessibility. This coupled with the digital up-gradation to support timely patient management and clarity of treatment price, alignment with insurance providers all provide the 360-degree cover that will ensure the continuum of care that the patient deserves.
(The author is Medical Director, Ayu Health Hospitals. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the FinancialExpress.com.)