Dengue Fever in Delhi

It is again that time of the year.

The deadly Dengue virus is busy stalking its prey in Delhi and adjoining areas. The hospitals are struggling to find beds to accomodate people who want to get admitted, many out of fear rather than a positive diagnosis. The blood banks are busy dispensing blood and platelets to an increasingly desperate patient population. The pharmacists are busy stocking and dispensing anti viral medications to all and sundry.

Dengue has almost become an annual phenomenon in Delhi. It is around this time, when the monsoons are at their fag end when Delhi gets its share of Dengue. The municipal authorities are busy defogging the city, releasing large advertisements in local newspapers advising citizens to ensure that they do no have stagnant water bodies at home and that they remain covered head to toe so that the dreaded aedes mosquite does not get an opportunity to bite. I am sure the chief minister will soon be broadcasting appeals on the local radio and TV stations asking people to watch out against the mighty ‘aedes’ mosquito, which strikes during the day. The opposition politicians will also soon get into the act by blaming the ruling politicos for not taking enough precautions and subjecting the hapless citizens of Delhi to this menace. In short the Dengue circus has been unleashed on Delhi.   Continue reading

Hospital Advertising that Works

It is a myth to believe that hospitals do not need advertising.

Many a times I have come across the argument about hospitals wasting money on expensive advertising, which seldom works and puts off customers. In my earlier avtars as the Head of Marketing Communications in large hospitals I have been at loggerheads with my other colleagues, who have often voted against my advertising proposals. Here is why I believe they are wrong and advertising works in healthcare just as much as it does in any other service.

The caveat of course is that the hospital’s communication must be subtle, the message must be designed to ring a bell and should be done in a manner, which is consistent with the customer’s sensitivities. An over the top message, which is loud and persistant and tries to do too many things will certainly put off customers.

Advertising at the end of the day is a promise of service to a customer. This is true of all advertising and is just as much true for healthcare services advertising. There is no reason to believe that as a consumer of healthcare services I wouldn’t want to know what the hospital next door really stands for?    Continue reading

Off to Ladakh

We are finally off to Ladakh.

I have been wanting to travel to this fabulous land for many years. Somehow or the other circumstances so conspired that we just couldn’t go. This time too this visit seems to be more of a happy accident then anything else. In late July my wife and I were planning to spend at least 10 days in the Kashmir valley. However, for the last fortnight or so the valley has been in turmoil with daily reports of strikes, protest marches and police firing. We subsequently decided to go to Ladakh. The other options that we considered were Andaman Islands, Goa, The Maldives, Malaysia and Egypt.

Leh would easily be the highest place that either of us have ever visited. Ladakh is famous for its breathtaking sights, buddhist monastries, pristine lakes that change colour, barren mountains and a flourishing centre of the fast disappearing Tibetan-Buddhist culture.

We will be flying into Leh in a couple of hours. We are excited about seeing the mighty Indus. It has been the cradle of civilization for more than 5000 years. A river from which even our great country derives its name. We will also be driving on the world’s highest motorable road and will be visiting Khardongla, which at over 18000 ft is the world’s highest motorable place.

Some of the remote areas that we will be visiting during this 7 day trip include the exotic Nubra Valley, Pangong Lake, which is the world’s highest salt water lake (suggesting that millions of years ago when there were no Himalayas, this arid land was perhaps an ocean), the Zanskar River and the ancient and the unchanging Lamayuru monastry.

I look forward to sharing our experiences on this blog.



On the Back of a Star

The star syndrome is a common phenomenon, which dazzles many a newly minted hospital.

I have been part of several start-up hospitals and have attended numerous meetings where all those who matter spout the now so familiar arguements about staying away from the ‘stars’ in the medical firmament. The arguements run something like this.

The star doctor (a well established doctor with a roaring practice) will be too set in his practices, will bring too much baggage and will never follow our pristine processes, which are far superior to his current practices. He will be a bad influence on everybody else. Another arguement goes that we do not believe in the ‘star’ system. Why should a ‘star’ enjoy priviliges, which are not available to our other doctors. A third arguement goes that we believe in growing our own stars. The hospital brand should be the real star and not individual doctors.   Continue reading

The Marketing of a Doctor

Do doctors need Marketing ?

I have worked for more than 8 years in healthcare services Marketing and am yet to meet a doctor who says that he does not need Marketing support. The funny thing is that all of them believe that the Marketing team always does more for the next guy and all of them collectively believe that the Marketing team does very little work in the hospital!

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6 Ways To Get the Best Out of your Doctor

Doctors too are humans. Very often, when confronted with a medical crisis we tend to forget this simple fact. In my many years of experience of working closely with doctors in large corporate hospitals, I have learnt that by observing the following few simple rules one can extract the best out of ones doctors.

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Why Singh is Kinng

Last week my wife dragged me to a late night screening of Singh is Kinng (featuring the inimitable Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif) at a nearby multiplex. I was reluctant to go as I had read reviews of the movie in the popular Hindustan Times and the Times of India, who had panned the movie essentially as mindless drivel.

As I sat through the movie, it dawned on me that sometimes ‘mindless drivel’ can also be entertaining!. The movie does not have a real storyline yet it does not have a dull moment. It is quite an incredible entertainer.    Continue reading

The Role of ‘Referral Fee’ in Healthcare Marketing

Referral Fee has always been one of the most controversial issue in the Marketing of Healthcare Services in India.

Large tertiary care hospitals derive much of their revenue from patients who are admitted in the hospital. The revenue comes from the room rent (that the hospital charges from the patients), the surgical fee, the anaesthetist’s fee, the Operating room charges, the investigations that the patients need during their stay in the hospital and the medicines and other sundry consumables that are used by the patients.

Patients who need admission rarely walk into the hospital requesting admission. They generally come through the Emergency Room (the ER) or are referred by their family physicians or other specialists who practice outside the hospital. Many a times patients are also referred by smaller secondary care hospitals or nursing homes.    Continue reading

The Marketing of a Hospital

Before I get into the business of writing about the Marketing of a Hospital in India I must establish my credentials.

I have been working in the arena of Marketing of Heathcare Services for the last 8 years or so. I have been involved with Apollo Health and Lifestyle Ltd., which is the franchisor of Apollo Clinics part of the Apollo Hospitals Group, headed the Marketing and later the Corporate and International Sales for Max Healthcare a large healthcare services company based in Delhi and for the last two years have been heading the Sales and Marketing function at Artemis Health Institute, a tertiary care hospital based in Gurgaon and promoted by the Apollo Tyres group.

When I started working for Apollo Hospitals as the Marketing Manager for The Apollo Clinics and later at Max Healthcare I was often asked the question as to what really a Marketing person did in a hospital. Marketing of hospitals was understood to be a big no no. If you had a good hospital infrastructure and some well known doctors working for you the conventional wisdom dictated that the patients will follow.   Continue reading

Books and Me

The Hindustan Times this morning carries a very intersting oped piece written by Saumya Bhattacharya.

Mr. Bhattacharya is worried about the present generation shunning books in favour of many other mundane activities such as watching inane (and often revolting) soaps on the idiot box, spending time ‘poking’ ‘hugging’, ‘cuddling’ (and God knows what else) on Facebook and surfing the net for all kinds of trivia.   Continue reading