‘Our objective is to set a benchmark’

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Dr Ramakant Panda, Vice Chairman & MD, Asian Heart Institute, one of the safest heart surgeons in the world. He has revolutionised the faith of people on cardiac care in India after our Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh was being treated by him. In conversation with Rachita Jha, ENN, Dr Panda, Padmabhusan awardee, shares his excitement on the future plans

“Plans are on for Orthopedic Institute, Robotics and Minimally Invasive Institute, Cosmetic & Reconstructive Surgery Institute”

What has been the inspiration behind starting Asian Heart Institute?
The journey of Asian Heart Institute (AHI) started during my training days in the USA, where my work involved me to go to hospitals in city and sub-urban areas to retrieve heart for heart transplantation. There I saw that heart transplants or cardiac care and hospital infrastructure, even in the remotest of hospitals were far better than any other hospital in India. I realiSed the gap in terms of infrastructure in our country. I thought of putting a new model in India in cardiac care, and that’s the whole concept behind AHI. I returned to India in 1993 and in January 2003 we opened the hospital. In short span of three years we were the first heart institute to receive International Accreditation, ISO-9000 and other certifications. The very objective of this hospital was not to make money but set a benchmark, in whatever we do.

The trend is, instead of having a huge set-up, have separate single speciality units for each department, which is way better and more cost-effective healthcare that can be given to patients

AHI started as a cardiac care hospital. What is the next step?
Asian Heart will remain a cardiac speciality hospital only. We are in plans expansion. In the new building twothree specialties will be introduced. These include Orthopedic Institute as with aging population is leading to a lot of cases of orthopedic and joint related ailment’s are Robotics and Minimal Invasive surgery as the trend today is to have lesser cuts that are more convenient to the patient and gives faster recovery and Cosmetic Surgery and Reconstructive Surgery Institute.
Government has given a go ahead to us for expanding our business and we have also got fire clearance. Unfortunately, due to paucity of land in Mumbai we can only move up vertically. We have purcahsed the requistie Floor Space Index from Government and are in process of design and development. We have plans to entre new cities and states in India such as Orissa and Assam. These will be multi-speciality, while the focus will be on Cardiac, Orthopedics, Minimal Access and Cancer.

Kindly tell us about the current trends in healthcare market?
The trend worldwide, especially in the US is to have a chain of single-speciality hospitals within the banner of a large hospital in the same campus, rather than having one multi-speciality hospitals within one building. Thus, now they have seven to eight hospitals with 100-200 beds and each catering to a single specialty within the same premises. The reason is that technology is changing rapidly and with each speciality getting an infrastructure, team of single specialist and space dedicatedly within the same campus empowers them to emerge as independent excellence centers for the hospital. So, abroad the trend is to have a huge setup and in that have optimum number of beds per speciality as a seperate institiute. That way right care to the patients can be given. We are looking to follow this trend and have three other speciality institutes within the same campus.

Robotic-assisted surgery is an upcoming medical technology in India. What are your comments on that?
Robotic surgery is a major innovation and robotic technology in the medical field plays a vital role in almost all areas of surgery. The reason for it becoming popular in India is that globally the trend is moving towards minimum cuts and robot-assisted surgery can easily perform this function better than conventional laparoscopic surgery. This is also a boon for the patients as they recover much faster and blood requirement is not there.
AHI was the first hospital in the country to do the third generation, robotic surgery with simulator. Although the treatment modality is costly today, that is so every time new technology comes in the market, with more adoption of the technology in hospitals, the cost will gradually reduce. The use of robots in surgery will revolutionise the way surgeries are performed in India.

Are there any landmark case study you would like to share with us?
AHI is recognised as the centre to do any heart surgery that is inoperable anywhere in India. One of the landmarks achieved recently, is about a man of 52 years from Oman, who had been treated with multiple surgeries in the past, and was facing problems. Everything that can go wrong with one’s heart was wrong with his, and we had to fix that. He was an extremely high risk patient. We operated upon him, and there were six procedures done simultaneously on him, we had to reconstruct his breastbone, repair one valve, bypass and other supporting surgery, and within 10 days he was discharged after full recovery.

What would be your key recommendations to the government?
In India, the healthcare industry is at par with international counterparts. While the only point is that there is lack of trained people. There is huge gap in terms of the percentage at which the healthcare industry and the trained population is growing. Also to make healthcare and investment friendly industry, I recommend the Government to announce attractive tax benefits or incentives similar to hospitality and IT sector. Second for the healthcrae sector, is insurance sector that needs attention to ensure benefits reach to all. Third would be make significant in investment in infrastructure so that we get more trained people coming in into the sector.

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