Indian Doctors are More Technology Savvy than the US Doctors

Max Healthcare is working towards making quality healthcare available to every person in India through adoption of innovative technologies. Ajay Bakshi, CEO, Max Healthcare, in conversation with Divya Chawla & Shally Makin, speaks about the key issues that affect the Indian healthcare industry today

Ajay Bakshi CEO, Max Healthcare

Ajay Bakshi
CEO, Max Healthcare

As CEO of Max Hospitals, what is your vision and strategy for growth?

Max is one of the best and most respected hospital networks in India; we are mostly focused in North India, which is a part of our strategy. What should really matter in a strategy is how you are adding value to your customer or patient. To a patient it doesnt matter whether a hospital has 8,000 beds or 10,000 beds. What really matters is the quality of healthcare services provided. We dont necessarily want to be the largest and the most profitable as profits are the requirement of doing a business but it does not imply that we keep 30 40 percent margin at the cost of everything else. What really matters to us is quality of care and quality of experience that the patient and the family undergoes in our hospitals. I am a doctor myself and I recognise how important it is and how difficult it is to deliver quality healthcare on a consistent basis. So my vision is not different from our Chairmans vision, which is to build the best hospital network not only in the country, but also in the whole of the South Asia.

We have had really a rapid growth in the last 6 months. We are moving from the 900 beds footprint, mostly in the NCR region, to 1900 beds footprint beyond NCR region, mainly in north India. We have opened 3 new hospitals in the last 6 months, including one in Shalimar bagh (300 beds), one in Mohali (200 beds) and one in Bhatinda (200 beds). We are also coming up with a hospital with more than 200 beds in Dehradun. Now, we are putting in place the systems, processes and measuring mechanisms to get the quality. We are very fortunate that we have some of the best doctors with us so the quality improvement will be easier to implement. Quality improvements will come from more scientific applications of management principles. Like improving the workflow when the patient comes to the front office till the time when he gets admitted. So there is process re-engineering and process re-design techniques that need to be done. Likewise there are many things which we can be done in a better way by bringing in management principles from other industries.

What is your procurement strategy in terms of material and manpower?

As I said, our end objective is quality, so the reason for having multiple hospitals is to deliver better quality to more people. For this, we need to have real connectivity between these hospitals. There is a theoretical concept that you should be able to procure in a combined way because the procurement cost or the material cost is one of the largest costs. There is a second concept of accessing better talent because you are so large. If I have a hospital in Coimbatore, it needs to compete with other hospitals in Coimbatore. I wont be able to hire a doctor in Coimbatore because I am a large network. The doctors was of thinking is very clear—is this hospital giving me a fair, cleaner and a better deal than the other hospitals? So procurement synergy is hard to get in a large disconnected network.

Max HealthcareWe have well described Shatabdi strategy, which means that wherever Shatabdi train runs, we are happy to establish a hospital. This strategy also leads to greater connectivity of people, products like pathology specimens, processes and information and the patients. Patients should be able to move up and down

What is the role of ICT in hospitals? How far have you implemented it in your hospital?

We are very well connected through the electronic network; we have electronic health records in all our new hospitals and in Saket. This allows the patient related information to be transmitted across the network. We have well described Shatabdi strategy, which means that wherever Shatabdi train runs, we are happy to establish a hospital. This strategy also leads to greater connectivity of people, products like pathology specimens, processes and information and the patients. Patients should be able to move up and down. The patient can be sent from Dehradun to Delhi, if there is some facility which is not there in Dehradun.

Please brief us about the various technologies, software applications, medical and diagnostic equipments being used in the hospital to providing effective healthcare.

We are the most advanced chains in the country in terms of electronic health records. We have implemented this in our 7 hospitals already and the rest are under implementation. We store everything for the patients so he does not have to worry about keeping his records safe and stored. So this adds tremendous value to the doctors as well as to the patients.

Max has also digitised the records of its own departments. When doctors use the electronic health records for prescription for in-patient ordering, the system can pick up the errors of medication because it is very smart. If you go to the US, there are millions of medication errors in hospitals and there is a statistical data which shows that more than 100,000 patients die in the US because of medication errors. In India we dont have the data to be honest. The reason is modern medication is very complex, patients have 4-5 diseases at a time and have 6-7 specialist taking care of them. So our system can pick up drug interactions and alerts and warn the doctors so that they can immediately mend the mistakes. This is very hard to do in a manual system.

Around 1700 hospitals up and running and we have operationalised those beds very quickly and we have a plan which we will. 200 will come online in May. So that will compliment to the whole no. of 1900 beds across.

How do you see the advancements in the field of technology in healthcare last few decades? How do you see the challenges in adoption of new technologies in health sector?

We feel that Indians are very technology savvy. There are more than 700 million cell phones in India today. Even Indian doctors are more technology savvy than the US Doctors. So we have a right playground, not every player has to decide how he has to play, so technology has a big role to play. It is a philosophical issue but there is a disconnect between the technology field and the healthcare field. Healthcare is a very deep vertical branch. It takes you 15 years to be a surgeon. It takes 20 years to be a good neuro surgeon and you are so busy learning this stuff that you dont understand IT or online wesites or what internet can do to do your job better. If you do an industry analysis, banking is the most advanced industry in terms of leveraging technology for doing day to day operations. Do we have a healthcare ATM? Why cannot we have it? How hard it is to have it? You can dispense coke in a machine manually, you can do blood pressure readings manually remotely. Nobody has invented healthcare ATM where you can go, get your BP or sugar taken and some doctor can see you and dispense medicines.

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