Dr. Kunal

Healthcare industry is growing and evolving fast. The pandemic has brought the focus on health and healthcare delivery like never before. In the coming year, where the world and economy is recovering from the after effects of pandemic, healthcare is also going to face new challenges and bring new opportunities.

When there will be a lot of discussion about financial growth and marketing strategies, I would like to dedicate my thoughts towards three basic points to focus on – Continuous Improvement, Communication and Climate Change.

Continuous Improvement

Quality has become a fabric of healthcare organizations. Time has passed when it was limited to only a few documents and few departments. Now quality is used as a tool for continuous improvement. To go in the right direction of improvement what is of utmost importance is the quality of data collected. As most of the quality improvement strategies are based on current and past data, it can make or break any strategy. It is well known that data is the new gold or data is the new oil. But for healthcare quality, data is the source of performance measurement, improvement, reflection and motivation. Unlike other industries, healthcare focuses on bringing errors and mistakes to the forefront and it requires a lot of courage. Especially when errors are seen with negative intent rather than scope of improvements.

With digitization in healthcare improving at a fast pace, the quality and improvement measurements are also getting digitized. To focus more on the improvement part rather than data collection, IT enablement in quality is a must. Information technology cannot only be limited to the medical or clinical part of healthcare but also has to contribute to other areas. Right from capturing patient experiences to having quality improvement dashboards visible to all, healthcare IT for quality improvement is on a fast track. Now we can have online dashboards, real time data monitoring of key performance indicators, capturing errors on the go and even conduct audits digitally. The challenge will be how we manage this data and how we utilize it for continuous improvement.

On the public health front, we have Arogya Setu and Cowin as the biggest example of IT enabled healthcare by the government. It made the seemingly impossible task of covering our population and helped to extend the reach of health information, education, monitoring and delivery. Under Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM) the government is working to integrate digital health infrastructure of the country. All the citizens can generate their Ayushman Bharat Health Account (ABHA) and securely access their health records and digitally manage their data. Thus, through various initiatives the government is spearheading healthcare digitization.

To improve continuously one must look outside the industry too. Healthcare is also learning concepts of Design Thinking, Lean etc. from other industries. With its applicability and justifiable implementation, healthcare delivery can improve. From hospital or doctor centric healthcare it has become patient centric healthcare. Like other industries who keep customers in the centre of every action, healthcare has also started keeping patients at the centre. The actions in the field of healthcare risk management, patient safety, disaster preparedness, pandemic preparedness, infection control, device safety and management are encouraging as they contribute towards overall improvement of quality healthcare delivery with patients at its centre.

One of the pillars of continuous improvement is continuous training and development. For the coming year, the focus of healthcare industry has to be on training and development which had taken a back seat during the Covid times due to exhausted healthcare professionals and geographical travel restrictions.Though training and learning continued digitally, hands on, skill based and performance based trainings are the need of the hour.


The second focus for the upcoming year has to be Communication in healthcare. It is one of the most important and least talked areas of healthcare. Everyone has faced or observed the effect of isolation and increased need of communication, during the pandemic. When we talk of communication in healthcare it is not just verbal and nonverbal connect but also an emotional and psychological connect. Empathy in communication is important now more than ever because every other person whom we meet has faced a life changing event in personal and family life in the last couple of years. It may be a loss of life or health deterioration of a loved one, or it may be in the form of facing financial crisis.At the same time we need to be sensitized about our healthcare workforce. It is facing more mental stress and physical exhaustion. The pandemic has affected the mental health and wellbeing of our fellow professionals in an unimaginable way. And as saviours of life themselves, many professionals cannot talk about their own feelings and express vulnerability. Industry has to focus on saving the saviour’s mental and physical health.

We have to be more sensitized about how we communicate in the healthcare settings and train our professionals for the same. We are fortunate that we have now dedicated organizations working towards this effort like the Indian Institute of Healthcare Communication. Various sensitization and training programs in the field of clinical communication, emotional intelligence, leadership and teamwork in healthcare are offered by IIHC. We have sufficient books, literature, programs, dialogues and videos which discuss at length about healthcare communication. All we need is to use them in our settings and also spread the word.A small effort in the right way of communication can bring a big change in the life of a person – be it a healthcare service provider or healthcare service seeker.

Climate Change

The effects of climate change on the overall health status of the population is tremendous. WHO estimates that more than 13 million deaths around the world each year are due to avoidable environmental causes. This includes the climate crisis which is the single biggest health threat facing humanity. The climate crisis is also a health crisis. To focus global attention on this crisis and to foster a movement to create societies focused on wellbeing of humans and the planet, WHO has the theme for World Health Day 2022 as – “Our Planet Our Health” – Clean our air, water & food for a healthier tomorrow.A report on Health care’s climate footprint by HCWH and Arup in 2019 says that if healthcare were a country it would be the fifth largest emitter on the planet. According to the Lancet article “The environmental footprint of health care: a global assessment” published in July 2020, health care causes global environmental impacts that range between 1% and 5% of total global impacts, and are more than 5% for some national impacts.

It is high time that the healthcare industry also focuses on this cause. Rather than having environment safety, better waste management, recycling etc. as part of small initiatives, healthcare organizations need to have a concrete plan to work on clean air, water and food and work towards reducing the effects of climate change.

Infrastructure modifications, optimum utilization of resources, design changes and other similar actions can help in reducing the carbon footprint. By focusing on sustainable procurement, we can bring a larger effect across the healthcare supply chain. Reducing waste and wasteful activities will help to mend financial leakages also. The economic benefits behind the changes would be encouraging to implement them at a larger scale. Healthcare waste is also a big problem for the people and environment if not disposed of in an ideal manner. Structured long term efforts are required in the direction of saving the environment.

So, for the upcoming financial year and few years to come, the healthcare industry which has performed beyond expectations during the pandemic has to be prepared and focus on continuous improvement, digitization, training and improving healthcare communication at all levels, work towards reducing healthcare carbon footprint and reduce the effects of climate change.

Dr Kunal Jawahar Thakkar COO – BAPS Pramukh Swami Hospital, Surat, Gujarat

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