Goa Medical College, Goa
When Ravi opened his eyes, Shawn was writing something on his plaster.
‘DEFEATED DEATH X 2’ it read.
“Lost a few bones though” Ravi said, the last time they met he had a broken leg and fracture of spine, the setting was similar. Only the hospital and the bones differed.
“It’s hardly been a year, did you even let them heal completely?” Shawn said while helping Ravi to recline on the bed.
“You know me well, I didn’t think that this trip was risky, the traffic laws are being enforced better and the chances of me being hit by a drunk driver or any such things like last time were less likely.” Ravi replied.
“Last time you were lucky the hospital was close by. Heck, you’re lucky this time too. If the system had not changed so drastically over a year, I would have been writing a eulogy and not on your plaster. ”
“You know what, when my bike skided I for a fraction of a second thought I would be unharmed, but then I fell off the edge of the cliff and the landing was a little too far below.”
“At least be glad that there was a landing and that someone saw your bike on the edge of the cliff.”
“Trust me, I had already surrendered to death, but then I woke up in one of the government hospitals. You won’t believe how good the hospital was. It was well maintained and the staff gave some quality service too. There wasn’t much of a crowd too unlike other government hospitals.”
“I know that” Shawn said gleaming with pride “I am proud of having played a part in bringing that change. ”
“You’re saying that you’re the one who built that hospital”
” Not that hospital, of course. I meant that I played a small role in planning the overhaul that healthcare underwent in India. I .. ”
Ravi was fiddling with switches next to his bed. Seeing that Shawn had paused, and was annoyed at him for not paying attention .
” I’m listening, trust me dude. I’m interested in your story but all of this is a bit too much for me. Last I checked, you said you were doing your post grad in some communication medicine or something and now you talk like a bureaucrat.”
“After my post graduation in COMMUNITY MEDICINE, I joined the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Pretty sure you don’t know what community medicine means so to put it in layman terms, I’m a doctor who is partly a bureaucrat.”
“So what’s this overhaul you’re talking about ”
Don’t know if you ever noticed, but our healthcare system was plagued by a multitude of problems ever since independence. There were few doctors in primary care, medicine costs were shooting for the stars and the healthcare budget was never enough to fight it all. But it all changed when a bunch of visionaries came together. ”
“Apart from the occasionally news on IMR and the hike in health budget, I never really paid attention to any of it. ”
The look in Shawns eyes, the way they gleamed gave Ravi an idea that what he was going to engage in what’s a long but an interesting conversation.
” Let’s take your case for example when you met with an accident the ambulance must have arrived within a few minutes. It was the magic of 112. ”
“Of course I’m aware of 112. I had apparently lost a lot of blood and was dead meat if it didn’t arrive on time.”
“What you are not aware of is how the system has been improved to ensure your survival. The moment you stepped inside apart from performing emergency manoeuvres, the healthcare provider recorded your vitals and blood grouping into a system. Once the driver decided on which hospital he was heading the hospital had your data and was ready to manage the emergency. ”
You’re saying that it’s this simple integration of systems that made me live ?”
“Not just that since the Primary Health Centre where you regained your consciousness was ill equipped to operate, they undertook emergency management. And then sent your treatment records and investigation and radiography reports to the secondary care centre ahead of your arrival.”
“You mean they were prepared to get a me before even seeing me. ”
“Yes, there is a Pan India portal just for this” Shawn begin opening the app on his mobile phone.
“But isn’t the time waste negligible”
“In your case maybe, immediate fatality was address and only fractures had to be managed but think of the advantage the system holds in a disaster. If the hospital doesn’t have the means to take in more patients they can informed the same through the portal and that time lost in transporting the patient to that hospital, in vain can be avoided. Instead the patient can be taken to another nearby hospital ”
“Isn’t there a privacy concern in all of this? I mean the system knows a bit too much.”
“That’s a real concern” Shawn replied, ” but as far as I know, the system doesn’t store data for more than a week”
“So was this ‘the so called revolution’ you were hyping up”
“A part of it. The infrastructure in the government hospital that you saw isn’t an exception. All over the country there are rampant infrastructure changes to maintain standards in the quality of hospitals. They even got on-board rating agencies to evaluate and find out hospitals with inadequate infrastructure and manpower.”
“But didn’t you tell me long ago that doctors don’t prefer working in rural settings”
“For once the administration has understood our two primary concerns – Infrastructure and Safety
Remember that time… around two years ago when you asked me why we doctors were on a strike
“Yes” Ravi said, trying to recall “about some doctor being beaten up in …..Bengal, was it?”
“NRS Medical College, Kolkata. The strike was to demand a new law that criminalized assault on doctors and intentional damage to healthcare institutions. It was passed by both houses in parliament last year, I don’t think many doctors would say no to an offer to work in infrastructure settings at par with secondary care institutes with no threat of an assault. ”
“Now that’s some real revolution” Ravi was impressed by what Shawn said ” but … wait … where’s the money coming from for all of this ”
“I didn’t call them visionary for no reason. The real gamble in all of this was to finance such a huge project, and here’s where some real bureaucratic genius is at work. The plan is to improve the health care set up to search levels so as to make India the hub of healthcare tourism this is a three part project. Part one is manpower training and improving standards in all levels of healthcare which you and I are witnessing. The ministry has increased its budget manyfold to achieve this. second job is to ease rules for medical visas for all foreign nationals and also introduce packages for treatment that can be availed in the government set up. Even private hospitals can gain from this. Such an added revenue can further improve the health care as the additional income can be used to waive cost of services to the citizens and reduce the burden of healthcare from the taxes that they pay. ”
“You’re saying that the plan is to make foreigners pay for our healthcare needs” Ravi said gleefully ” that’s awesome ”
“Isn’t that a Win-Win situation for all for the foreign nationals it’s cheap and quality treatment for administration the healthcare becomes a self sustaining entity for citizens of taxes will be used for other services since high standards of care has to be maintained in these institutes, citizens enjoy services of the highest quality. Even the economy benefits from such a large influx of tourists. ”
“Tough to pull something of this scale. ” Ravi crossed his index over his middle finger “Let’s see how they go about this plan”
” A year ago anyone would have called this impossible and yet now in 2020 India is set to become the Mecca for healthcare tourism in the World”
“All of this sounds like a dream, too good to be true.”