Established in 1990, Kovai Medical Center andÂ Hospital is a 350-bed super-facility corporateÂ hospital located in Coimbatore on a sprawling 20Â acre site. It has over 50 medical disciplines withÂ 100 full-time medical consultants,11 operationÂ theatres with the most modern medical equipment,Â such as, 64 slice CT, cathlab, state-of-the-artÂ laboratory equipment and EBUS equipment. KMCHÂ has been a forerunner in adopting technology inÂ diagnosis, treatment and and in every facet ofÂ hospitalâs operation to optimise cost and improveÂ delivery of care to patients.
In an interview with eHEALTH, U. K.Â Ananthapadmanabhan, President, KMCH, talksÂ about recent health initiatives taken by the hospitalÂ and how technology has revolutionised healthcareÂ in the country and around the world. Excerpts:
What are Kovai Medical Center andÂ Hospitalâs signifi cant achievements inÂ recent years?
Dr Nalla G Palaniswami, Chairman,Â KMCH, established the hospital in 1990Â with 250 beds and 17,000 shareholders.Â We became the second corporateÂ hospital in the country and the firstÂ such hospital in a second-tier city likeÂ Coimbatore. We added 100 beds inÂ the year 2000 along with other satelliteÂ centers in the Coimbatore district. WeÂ are in the middle of a huge expansionÂ involving an addition of 250 beds,Â 10 more operation theatres, cancerÂ therapy units with Linac and PET scanÂ equipment, with cost outlay of moreÂ than 200 crores.
The work is expected to complete byÂ 2010, which will make Kovai MedicalÂ Center and Hospital one of the largestÂ hospitals in the corporate sector inÂ Southeast Asia.
Currently, we treat over 1000Â inpatients and outpatients a day andÂ it is expected to double in the nextÂ two years. We are getting a largeÂ number of patients from north-easternÂ states like Meghalaya ,Assam ,TripuraÂ and Manipur and their number isÂ increasing by about 20 to 30 per centÂ every year. The patronage from the localÂ districts has been overwhelming due toÂ which patient load has tremendouslyÂ increased during the last 5 to 6 years.
We have now emerged as one ofÂ the leading centers in InterventionÂ Radiology in the world and a teachingÂ centre in this discipline. We haveÂ expert consultants who perform SingleÂ Incision Laproscopic Surgeries (SILS)Â and Endoscopic Spine Surgery andÂ Spine Correction Surgery involvingÂ 20 to 22 hours of meticulous surgicalÂ work, which very few hospitals in theÂ country are doing.
What has been your most recentÂ professional milestone?
I distinctly remember 20 years ago weÂ did most of our transactions like billing,Â registration, taking in diet order orÂ sterilisation of linen manually, but overÂ the years I have been able to automateÂ every transaction in the hospital. And,Â I have been mentoring many of myÂ junior colleagues in adopting the latestÂ technologies in their hospitals. I feel veryÂ proud when doctors, administratorsÂ and patients tell me that our hospitalÂ is one of the fi nest hospitals in termsÂ of Â care, treatment, technology andÂ cost-effectiveness.Â To me it is a constant learning processÂ by visiting hospitals, conferences andÂ writing examinations and teaching.
What have been the important initiativesÂ on the Health IT front in the pastÂ two years?
Our hospital is truly a paperless hospitalÂ where all the laboratory equipment likeÂ auto analyzers, blood gas analyser,blood cell counters are networked.Â Central sterilisation equipments areÂ also completely automated. Pharmacy,Â laboratory, dietary requests etc areÂ done through computer networkÂ without involving any paperwork.
We have empowered the patientsÂ by providing touch screen facilities atÂ various locations within the hospitalÂ premises. The touch screen Â informationÂ facility provides various details likeÂ general enquiry, facilities of KMCH,Â tariff etc. An in-patient can also view Â billing information and medical detailsÂ with his unique identifi cation number.
We are now working on providingÂ a facility to order meals through the Â mobile phone. We have also focusedÂ our attention on energy management Â which involves energy monitoring,Â energy conservation and use of alternateÂ sources of energy. We have installedÂ 14,000 litre solar water heating systemÂ which has resulted in huge saving inÂ energy costs and has also provided 24-Â hour hot water supply to the patients.We have connected all our highÂ energy loads to a Local Area NetworkÂ (LAN) through which we monitorÂ various electrical parameters likeÂ voltage, current , power factor, energyÂ consumption. By this we have saved RsÂ 10 lakhs in a year on energy. The cost ofÂ this solution has been a fraction of theÂ savings made last year. In appreciationÂ of this work, we were awarded âTheÂ Most Eco-friendly Hospital Building ofÂ the Yearâ by the RACC Association and Â the British scholars of India.
Any new initiatives taken by theÂ hospital in academics?Â
Ever since the hospital started, teaching,Â training and research have been partÂ of our clinical practice. KMCH hasÂ post- graduate DNB programmesÂ in various disciplines like radiology,Â cardiology, anesthesiology, cardioÂ thoracic surgery, ENT, germedicineÂ and surgery, orthopedics, paediatricsÂ and obstetrics and gynaecology.Â Hospital under its research and
education trust has graduate andÂ post-graduate programmes inÂ all paramedical disciplines likeÂ physiotherapy, occupational therapy,nursing, pharmacy. Apart fromÂ these programmes we also have skillÂ development programmes at the levelÂ of the technicians like respiratoryÂ therapy programme, operation the atretechnician programme, dialysisÂ technician programme and so on. Â To promote professional hospitalÂ management we also have postgraduateÂ programmes in hospitalÂ administration affi liated to the stateÂ university at Coimbatore.
What challenges does the hospital faceÂ in achieving its goals?
The biggest challenge that the hospitalÂ face is the non-availability of skilledÂ manpower at all levels. Today, majorityÂ of the skilled manpower prefers to workÂ in metropolitan cities because of whichÂ availability of manpower is in shortageÂ in tier 2 and 3 cities.Â The other challenge that theÂ hospital face is the high cost of medicalÂ equipment, and the rate of obsolescenceÂ in the medical equipment which putsÂ tremendous pressure on the overallÂ cost of medical treatment.
Indian GovernmentÂ should realise thatÂ it is not possibleÂ for them to developÂ infrastructure andÂ talent pool to caterÂ to the needs of 1.3Â billion people of theÂ country and, therefore,Â allow more private-publicÂ partnershipÂ in building upÂ Indian health careÂ delivery system.
According to you, what are the reformsÂ needed in the Indian healthcareÂ industry?
Firstly, there is a need to bring a changeÂ in the mindset of people. People shouldÂ see healthcare as a service that needs toÂ be paid for.
And, the government should realiseÂ that it is not possible for them toÂ develop infrastructure and talent poolÂ to cater to the needs of 1.3 billionÂ people of the country and, therefore,Â allow more private-public partnershipÂ in building up Indian health careÂ delivery system.
Health care must be treated as aÂ priority sector and certain facilitiesÂ like lower electricity tariff, land atÂ subsidised rates should be provided.Â Tax sops, custom duty exemptions mustÂ be liberally provided to individuals andÂ institutions coming forward to establishÂ accredited hospitals.
Lastly, efforts must be taken toÂ promote indigenous manufacturingÂ of medical equipments which makeÂ medical care very expensive to theÂ common man. Government shouldÂ universalise health insurance for BPLÂ families and also promote medicalÂ insurance in the private sector byÂ allowing foreign companies to comeÂ in, and raise the insurance premiumÂ limit for income tax exemption forÂ individuals to Rs 50,000.
Are there any schemes/programsÂ started by the hospital to provideÂ affordable healthcare facilities toÂ the poor?
We provide concession to childrenÂ from poor families, senior citizensÂ and Army personnel at the hospital.Â We have performed over thousandÂ free open heart surgeries on the poorÂ children, in and around CoimbatoreÂ district. We have established 6 ruralÂ healthcare centers in villages likeÂ Thekkalur, Annur, Veeriampalayam,Â where we provide medical treatmentÂ at a very nominal cost for the benefitÂ of the poor. We have also establishedÂ Trauma care centers which operateÂ 24/7 . We transport patients not only toÂ our hospital but also to other hospitals.Â The patients, who aretransportedÂ to government hospitals after fi rstÂ aid treatment, are not charged forÂ the service.