On any given day, at least 10 new patients diagnosed withÂ cancerÂ are lining up at HCG to get that deadly tumour out of their system.
Intrigued researchers in Harvard tried to figure out how thisÂ Central Bangalore hospitalÂ has not turned away any poor cancer patient. Its cancer care model is now a case study for the Harvard Business School.
Researchers Regina Herzlinger, Amit Ghorawat, Meera Krishnan and Naiyya Saggi published their study about the model where even drug dispensing unique.
What interested them was Dr Ajaikumar’s hub-and-spoke expansion model in which a central hub in Bangalore performed high-end imaging, therapy, and complicated procedures at lower cost while the spokes provided basic therapy and follow-ups in the patients local communities (smaller towns). Using this model, HCG expanded to 20 centres.
Terming HCG a focused factory, the Harvard team said: The drug dispensing method to patients was also unique. The hospital set up pharmacies within its premises which lowered drug cost as it was procured directly from manufacturers. This helped low-income patients to benefit from well-tested generic drugs instead of costly imported drugs.
The process HCG followed to evaluate the creation of a new spoke began with an environmental scan of the area, assessing cancer incidence, market size, availability of medical expertise, insurance, and competition, among other factors. In a remote area such as Shimoga which had few available options for cancer treatment, HCG decided to provide a wider range of services there than in other spokes.
The hospital collaborated with a localÂ doctor whoÂ already had a practice but would upgrade existing facilities and provide some capital investment like radiation equipment, and retained 51% ownership.
This is because Indian patients almost always travel with their families to secure treatment. Travel cost and accommodation, especially in a nuclear family with one person earning,can become a huge burden for the family, Dr Ajai told TOI. Telemedicine gave the spokes access to hub doctors.
The spokes in smaller cities attracted primarily local populations, while hubs in Bangalore, Delhi and Ahmedabad attracted patients from across India, Africa,Â Iran, Afghanistan, Germany, Australia, and the US. While 60% of patients belonged to the middle class,20% were below the poverty line and the rest 20% affluent. Researchers pointed out how the entire HCG team believed in a culture of compassion.
As a policy, HCG did not turn away any patients even if the patient could not afford to pay, the report said. In fact, employees chipped in with contributions to support patient care.
Source: Times of India