As COVID-19 is unleashing mayhem across the globe, it brings to the fore a challenging situation to the healthcare fraternity where providers’ saneful decision, meticulous planning and out of box innovative ideas can help them to tide over the crisis. Innovations like tele consultation, managing manpower and cost in this tough time prove game changer. Healthcare experts dwell on various aspects of innovations, its feasibility and associate challenges with respect to COVID-19 in a recently held webinar panel discussion with Dr Ravi Gupta, Founder, CEO and Editor-in-Chief, Elets Technomedia.
Dr Aloke Mullick, Group CEO, Omni Hospitals, and Hyderabad, said: “In most of our hospitals, business is down by 50 percent. What continues is emergency care–like Cath lab, ICUs, and OTs. OPDs are virtually working through tele consultations. COVID has become pandemic unlike swine flu. Hopefully we will have vaccine next year and nobody would care about Coronavirus. Hospitals need to know what they need to do now and in near future. Many of the decisions would be pertaining to hospital finance. We need to create team A and B. Team A studies how to tackle the situation–how do you access PPE, sterilize PPE, how to keep staff safer in ICU, OTs and isolation wards.”
“We have been improvising PPE. Lots of PPEs are being developed locally in India unlike US and other European countries. Team B needs to focus on how to conserve cash for unseen circumstances. You may need it for another spell of lockdown, or to retain good staff. Things may be all right after nine months from now. Till then, we need to cut cost, reduce salary, prune manpower if needed. It is better to be over capitalised than to be over leveraged,” he added.
Talking about how challenges have led to critical thinking, Neeraj Lal, VP & Cluster Head, Rainbow Children’s Hospital, said: “Our 30-40 percent business is still on as we have birth right segment which is taking care of mother and maternity part. We conduct anti-natal classes amidst Corona lockdown. We have connected all these mothers through zoom platform where our physiotherapists, gynaecologists, neonatologists teaching them antenatal sessions. We have also connected several persons who wanted to refer their known persons to doctors. We have created isolation room for COVID-19 patients. Whenever any patient comes, they are screened followed by their treatment as per our SOPs. They are sent to ward and ICU accordingly.”
“We have 12 hospitals in 4 states of North India, catering to the most under-served communities. Our objective is at the bottom of the pyramid to cater people in those areas where quality health facilities are not available. We are in towns where people had to travel 4-5 hours travelling to the cities to access quality and accredited healthcare. Our hospitals mainly focus on emergency care where golden hour is considered important like cardiology, neurosurgery, and cancer care,“ Dr Shuchin Bajaj, Founder Director, Cygnus Hospitals, Delhi, opined.
“We have all NABH accredited, typically about 100-150 beds hospitals. It is tough time for entire world due to the Pandemic. We have been talking about disruption and all from very long time in healthcare sector. We are at the cusp of transformation–either rise to the occasion or get extinct. We are already pushed off the cliff-. Onus is on us to build the parachute or go down and hit the nadir. As we are in small town, our focus is on very very affordable healthcare. We have announced free of cost tele consultations during this crisis,” he added.
Sameer Mehta, Vice Chairman, Dr. Mehta’s Multispecialty Hospital, and Chennai, believed: “Dr. Mehta’s Multispecialty Hospital is 87 year old health system. We have two hospitals–one is COVID dedicated and other has everything except Corona facility. Both are 500-bed hospital, located in Chennai. We are working with the Centre government and state representatives to look at how to survive the ongoing storm. We invest in 1o companies per year. Some of our companies do lot of remote monitoring of patients which finds its relevance in present times. We don’t have to walk in or visit the patient in a ICU as often as we typically do with remote monitoring devices. Helping the government in this critical time by sharing best practices is another innovation; we focus upon—like how often we can recycle PPEs, where one can buy low cost PPE etc. Most of the hospital which serves the community is struggling–IP is down, OP is challenge as we are not allowed to do elective work.”
Providing details about role and significance of sterilization, Vinu Joseph, Regional Sales Manager, Advanced Sterilization Products (ASP), said: “Coronavirus is one of the largest global crisis of humankind. All the decisions which would be undertaken by the government and various organisations in coming days will not only influence healthcare system but also have huge effect on economy. As Coronavirus is unleashing mayhem, PPE shortage has become a major issue. In this wake, reprocessing of PPE holds huge significance. ASP works on Plasma Sterilization System in central sterile services department (CSSD) which supports revenue-generating hospital units through efficient sterilization and redistribution.”
“This department is either at the basement or may be a small room where there is autoclave, heater machine or clinical system. Deviating from CSSD best practices can lead to infection. ASP technology can help CSSD achieve hospital goals. From sterilization point of view, this virus is easiest to kill on the surface. But if it enters into human body, it becomes lethal. We need to integrate CSSD with hospital IT system. We need low temperature sterilization systems which are safe, fast, cost effective and sustainable. Plasma Sterilization can help save costs.”