Unveiling the Overlooked: Healthcare Issues Hiding in Plain Sight

Unveiling the Overlooked: Healthcare Issues Hiding in Plain Sight

Dr. Simmardeep S Gill, MD & CEO, Sterling Hospitals, 0

Simmardeep, MBBS graduate from Assam University and holds a postgrad diploma from Symbiosis Center of Healthcare, Pune. With two decades in hospital management, he brings expertise in healthcare administration.

In an interaction with CEOInsights magazine, Simmardeep shared insights on patient-centric healthcare evolution. He stressed on transforming hospitals into hospitable experiences by improving touch points and integrating technology without compromising human connection. Also, he highlighted the Ayushman Bharat initiative for inclusive, quality care. Below are the key extracts from the exclusive interview:

Stepping into a hospital often comes with many overlooked discomforts for patients—moments laden with uncertainty, excessive paperwork, and lengthy waits that intertwine with anxiety and pain. Long waits for consultations and tests breed impatience, and every ticking minute intensifies the distress. Discharge, anticipated as a moment of relief, is often a prolonged and disorganized process. Lack of clarity with regards to bill upfront and incomplete information is another major trouble as well.

Whether for a brief visit or a long stay, their experience from the entrance to the exit matters profoundly. It encompasses every interaction, every service, aiming to leave them not just healthier but content. In this context, there is need for more empathetic and patient-centered approach. In fact, the industry needs patient-centric innovation — developing new ideas, technology and approaches that put patients and their needs first.

In this vast industry where system functions as disconnected units and operating independently, achieving patient-centric innovation demands collaborative action to collectively enhance care. It's about ensuring patients receive the best possible treatment, timely service, tailored to their needs, in a safer environment. The solution is to streamline operations, fostering collaboration among stakeholders and evaluate every operation to reduce inefficiencies, boost teamwork, and pioneer inventive methods to elevate patient safety and outcomes.

Efforts to Change the Experience
From the first greeting at security to the final farewell, every interaction matters. It's about the warmth of reception, the smooth admission process, and the consistent care provided. That said, we (most healthcare institutions) have identified at least 45 key touch-points, to improve holistic patient care. Whether it's prompt admissions, timely surgeries, or even the cleanliness of facilities, each detail is pivotal to their satisfaction.

Monitoring these touch-points isn't an ideal checklist—it's a quest for perfection. There could be many more KPIs that can be improved but we meticulously track and refine the top 45 KPIs, which I feel are basic and necessary. However, through patient feedback, we learn and grow, striving for a blend of effective healthcare and heartfelt hospitality. The top five KPIs among them are —discharge time, waiting times, lab turnaround, accurate financial estimates, and planned patient transitions to various wards. It is extremely important to refine these
touch-points with time, aiming not just for healing, but for the genuine contentment of patients.

A Perfect Balance of Digitization & Human Touch
Modern technologies and innovations continue to impact every industry, including healthcare. Undoubtedly, the integration of digital advancements has emerged as a transformative force in shaping the patient experience. The question of how seamlessly are we using technology without losing the human touch.

As we chart a digital roadmap, it is important to be mindful that technology isn't to replace empathy. From financial transactions to report dissemination and even feedback channels, each interaction has the potential to be seamlessly integrated into an online framework. But the focus should remain clear: bringing digital experience without sacrificing the human touch. The goal is to avoid emulating the frustration of endless automated responses encountered at call centers.

It is an industry centered on humanity, where personal connection is cherished. It is only great to meld that human essence with meticulous digital processes. The crux lies in finding that delicate balance—a harmony where technology enhances the patient's journey without overshadowing the empathy and care that define our industry. It's about leveraging the power of digital tools to uplift the patient experience while ensuring our core values of compassion and personalized care remain steadfast.

From the first greeting at security to the final farewell, every interaction matters.

The Future of Patient Care & Quality Healthcare Accessibility
The future of patient experience in healthcare is a frontier that needs active reshaping. Reflecting on the evolution, I see a transformative path that aligns our industry more closely with the service-driven approach of the hospitality industry. The parallel drawn between healthcare and the hotel industry unveils a pursuit—an endeavor to infuse healthcare with the same nuanced service elements that define a luxurious hotel stay. It's an on-going journey, but the vision is clear: hospitals of the future will offer patients an experience akin to indulge checking into an esteemed hotel.

Initiatives toward enhancing operational efficiency and reducing patient waiting times often stem from internal drives within healthcare organizations. While governmental policies may not directly mandate these aspects, accreditation agencies such as NABH monitor several parameters that align with improving patient experience. It's these accreditation bodies that, aligned with our internal motivations, push us to refine services continually.

Speaking of initiatives that catalyze positive change, the Ayushman Bharat scheme—known as the Mukhyamantri Amrutum Yojana in Gujarat—stands as a remarkable milestone in our healthcare landscape. This scheme, a pivotal component of the government's National Health Mission, plays a vital role in transforming healthcare accessibility. For example, at our organization, nearly 30 to 35 percent of our patient volume is attributed to this scheme. It's not just about numbers; it's about enabling access to quality healthcare for countless individuals, a mission we're honored to support. The healthcare segment is required to be propelled by this vision—a future where healthcare transcends conventional boundaries to offer an unparalleled experience, ensuring not just healing but genuine comfort and contentment for every patient who walks through our doors.