“jaslok is at the forefront of medical advances” : Col M Masand, Jaslok Hospital, India

It is uncanny to imagine a defence officer, who once held the responsibility of operating army tanks, is now a well-known CEO of a leading hospital in the country and saving lives of thousands of ailing patients each day. With will, determination and a dream to build a hospital that is renowned and respected for introducing cutting-edge medical technology – Col M Masand has infused a  ‘tech culture’ at Jaslok Hospital since it opened up to patients in 1973.

Col M Masand
Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre

Today, as the hospital counts itself amongst the best in Mumbai, in conversation with Rachita Jha, he illustrates his tech journey and future plans

Tell us about the changing trends in healthcare in India and how do you update yourself on the latest trends and technologies?

I am not a qualified doctor instead I am a retired army officer and used to armor defence tanks.  I entered the healthcare industry without any knowledge and background. But today I can carry out a bypass surgery with a team of doctors. My journey began, when I was asked to take-charge of Jaslok in the 1970s. I took on the assignment and began to study the organisational and strategic functionalities of running a hospital. As the hospital then was ailing with outdated equipments, I was convinced that the path to success can be achieved only through technology adoption and delivery of quality patient care. Over a period of time, I have updated myself through regular visits to conferences, seminars and exhibitions to orient myself on the latest in various fields of medical technology advancements that can help me improve the quality of healthcare for my patients. I strongly believe in the power of medical technology and it is this urge that today, the nuclear medicine department at Jaslok Hospital is one the best in the country.

What is the importance of technologies and IT solutions for a hospital? How has it helped you in raising the quality and performance benchmarks of healthcare services offered at Jaslok Hospital?

Moving away from the conventional modes of medical technology in healthcare industry has redefined the benchmarks of quality in healthcare services that are being delivered by hospitals today. Most of them are extremely patient-friendly that reduce the overall time spent by patients in the hospital, and have revolutionised the way diagnosis and treatment is done in hospitals. Surgeries are being replaced by procedures. The entire lifecycle of a patient for a treatment has reduced drastically. The ordeal of a patient earlier began with getting admitted, taking diagnostic tests, undergoing surgery, anesthesia etc – all combined prolonged the stay in the hospital for months. The same line of treatment today using state-of-the-art technology is completed within hours and the patient is discharged in a day.
Tell us some of the leading medical equipments that have revolutionised treatment of cancer facilities available in the western part of India?

The Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai offers cancer treatment technology that attracts many patients from across the country. In order to augment the treatment facilities in the region and extend high quality cancer treatment technologies to cancer patients we hold the life saving department of oncology at the edge of technology. We have long moved away from conventional long process of radiation therapy that involved many sessions and extended stay of the patients in hospitals. Today, the hospital is powered with ABVS or Automated Breast Volume Scanner that offers precise diagnosis of suspected breast cancer, allowing speedy decision making. It acts as an important tool in the screening, diagnosis and follow-up care of breast cancer and drastically reduces the waiting time for patients. The IGRT and IMRT (Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy/ Image Guided Radiation Therapy) have changed the very treatment of cancer. Also, the new Focus MRI permits not only scanning but also treat patients with for fibroids and prostate cancer immediately thereby reducing the time gap between diagnosis and treatment. As future plans, we are in the process to install SPET CT (Single Proton Emission Computed Tomography) with a 16 slice CT to further speedup our capability to detect the spread of cancer.

As pioneers in nuclear medicine at Jaslok Hospital, what are the various technology investments that you have made in the department?

We now have the most advanced diagnostic and therapeutic nuclear medicine facility in the country. The latest introduction of the Alcyone Technology is a revolutionary nuclear cardiology platform in India. This nuclear cardiology technology also known as the Discovery NM 530C is installed and operational at Jaslok Hospital. The impact of this technology on cardiological management could be considered a revolution in many aspects. It offers dose reduction, the potential for more accurate identification of triple-vessel cardiac disease, and a cost-effective investigation tool for myocardial blood flow. Nuclear Cardiology is the most efficient way of detecting cardiac diseases early. It will not require spending four to five hours to get a diagnostic cardiac test done; and for the hospital, the saved time can be used for diagnosing more patients.

Tell us more about the era of non-invasive technologies?

The future belongs to the non-surgical era of cancer treatment and other targeted therapies. On the eve of our 37th anniversary, we introduced the first MR Guided Focused Ultrasound system in India and South Asia. With this, patients, especially women in India, neighboring countries, Middle-East and African countries can now look forward to surgery without cutting the body or losing a drop of blood. Launching the era of non-invasive surgery in India, the hospital now has the capability to treat uterine fibroids as well as bone metastases, breast, prostate and other cancers. At the same time, we continuously invest in R&D and conduct research and clinical trials for breast, liver and bone cancer.

The life-saving departments need to be a priority of hospitals when planning for technology investments. These include cardiology and oncology that offer new modalities for the doctors as well as the patients in providing faster and more efficient line of diagnostics and treatment

What are the key challenges that you face as CEO of Jaslok Hospital?

It is not the technology alone that scripts success for any hospital, but also an army of experienced and qualified doctors. Unfortunately, we have been facing the problem of finding and retaining young talented doctors in the hospital. Huge attrition at various levels on a regular basis disrupts the overall functioning of the hospital, in addition to patient care. Apart from the internal challenges, the overall government machinery and administration requires a overhaul. It has been a daunting task to sustain and offer the best of healthcare as a charitable hospital in Maharashtra.

Please identify few technology trends that hospitals in India need to invest in to become more patient-friendly?

The life-saving departments need to be a priority of hospitals when planning for technology investments. These include cardiology and oncology that offer new modalities for the doctors as well as the patients in providing faster and more efficient line of diagnostics and treatment. For example, the more update technology that has advanced from the C-arm is the O-arm. It is a multi-dimensional surgical imaging platform which combines the best features of the C-arm with a 3-D scanner helps in minimally invasive surgeries and is highly patient-friendly. The latest 4D Doppler allows the surgeon to execute the cardiac surgery within minutes as they can now view the video of the patient real-time thereby reducing the diagnostic c and waiting time of patients significantly. With medical technology advancing with each passing day, we have to pace up and adopt the latest to ensure our patients get the best.

What is your vision for Jaslok Hospital in 2020?

Jaslok Hospital has always remained in the forefront of medical advances and has established the reputation by introducing the best and latest medical technologies first in the country. I don’t wait for the machine to wear out before investing in a new one. We at Jaslok adopt the latest medical equipment as soon as we see value in the technology and benefits for our patients. The hospital will continue to lead as a trend-setter in introducing the latest and most patient-friendly technologies over the years. The foundations will be laid on trained and skilled doctors and nurses as the drivers of the ‘tech culture’ in the coming years. 

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