World Heart Day

Today is the World Heart Day.

World Heart Day is observed the world over on the last Sunday of the month of September. World Health Organisation estimates that annually over 17.5 mn people die of cardiovascular diseases. It is the world’s largest killer.

The theme of this year’s World Heart Day is ‘Know Your Risk’. Heart Disease is largely a consequence of the lifestyle choices that we make. True, some of us are predisposed to this disease because of our genetics, many of us make unwise lifestyle choices and suffer the consequences. Diet, Exercise and avoiding smoking are the simplest ways of keeping heart disease at bay. Yet so few of us pay attention only to regret later.   Continue reading

Outreach Programs – Lessons for Healthcare Marketers

Outreach Programs are essential weapons in the armoury of a healthcare marketer. The programs are widely used for creating awareness about the hospital’s services amongst people, who live in communities away from the hospital. Quite often these programs also serve as screening services for more serious disorders and the hospital naturally hopes to attract some of the patients requiring higher end diagnostics and treatment to its doors.

Very often the communities served by the outreach programs are either rural or semiurban, where the availability of good quality, modern healthcare is very limited. These communities too hugely benefit from these outreach programs as they get access to good quality healthcare services.     Continue reading

Dr. Chandrakant Patil

Nobody had heard of Dr. Chandrakant Patil till yesterday.

Now he is no more.

Dr. Patil was a resident doctor at the KEM Hospital in Mumbai. He was one of those rare doctors, who are driven by a passion to serve those who live at the margins of our society. Dr. Patil volunteered to work amongst the worst affected by the floods in Bihar. Not only did he volunteer he also encouraged his other colleagues to join him in this mission and apparently fought with the authorities at the KEM hospital to grant him leave so that he can go to Bihar and work amongst those who needed urgent medical care.   Continue reading

Oh Kolkata!

Well well well! I never thought I will write about my experiences during my first visit to Kolkata. I consider myself reasonably well traveled but I had never been to Kolkata. Last week I spent a couple of days in the city. 


The Ubiquitous Queue

I landed in Kolkata close to midnight. I was staying at ITC Sonar and as soon as I collected my bag from the carousal I Iooked around for a prepaid taxi booth. Stepping out on the streets at close to midnight in a strange city and than trying to hail a cab was not something I fancied. Soon enough I spied a counter, which said Pre Paid Taxi and immediately my heart sank. There must have been over 60 people standing patiently in a queue that wound its way almost across the terminal. There was no chaos that you would expect in Delhi. I mustered as much courage as I could and joined the queue at the fag end. After about 15 minutes I realised that I was in the middle of the queue only because more people had joined in behind me. Realising the futility of this I plucked up some courage, left the queue and stepped out of the terminal. I crossed the street right outside the airport and was soon approached by a cabbie, who readily agreed to take me to the hotel. And he also kindly directed me to a pre-paid counter, right across the airport terminal. And guess what, this counter was completely deserted. I readily paid my fare and was off to the hotel wondering about the oft heard and now seen Bengali enterprise.   Continue reading

The HIS Devil in Healthcare Experiences

Information technology is meant to enhance the quality of service and experiences delivered in a hospital. Once a patient is registered in the hospital, the subsequent visits can than be recorded and the visit log used for either customising the services or improving the experiences. It also helps the hospital maintain patient records, which can be pulled out at the push of a button. These can help the medical teams see a fairly complete patient history and allow correct diagnosis.

More intelligent systems are now deployed at state of the art hospitals, which even provide aid to physicians in diagnosing and treating a patient’s condition. They also ask a question and alert the doctor if they spot an anomoly. For example if a drug prescribed to be administered is contra indicated or if it has been given by another doctor on duty two hours ago, the system can raise an alert and inform the doctor. These systems are great to have.   Continue reading

Healthcare Relationship Marketing Programs for the Elderly

Healthcare Marketers instinctively know that their largest customer segment is the elderly. Healthcare spends increase significantly in the older people and they need a wide range of healthcare services. As life expectancy increases across the globe the burden of disease also seems to be increasing at least in the burgeoning population of the older people.

The real challenge now is to ensure that while we live longer, we also live healthier. Lifestyle choices have an important role in determining the state of our health in the twilight years. However, as we grow older it is only natural for us to fall prey either to the ravages of time or to silently lurking diseases, which remained at bay earlier when our body’s ability to withstand their onslaught was higher.   

Healthcare Marketers attempt to connect with the elderly in many ways. In India, most hospitals have failed to put together an effective CRM program, which addresses the needs of the elderly in a systematic manner. The reasons for this, in my experience are many.   Continue reading

The Platinum Preventive Health Programme at Max Hospital

 Sanchita Sharma, the health editor of The Hindustan Times in her piece today has looked at the ‘Platinum Preventive Health Programme’, to be shortly introduced by Max Healthcare. The article I am afraid reads like an advertisement for the product rather than an editorial comment by a respected newspaper.

Swapan Seth, CEO of Equus Red Cell a well known advertising agency, shares his experiences while undergoing some tests as part of the program. What Sanchita forgets to mention is that Equus is the agency, which handles advertising for Max Healthcare and has been their agency for years. Swapan himself has been working on the account as the creative and at times strategy lead.   Continue reading

The Mumbai Diary

The Daal Khichdi

Khichdi I have known all my life. The various variants of Khichdi too. Those, which my mother offered as standard fare during bouts of illness leading to diarrhea to the tastier ones, which one enjoys with chutney or achaar. In Mumbai, this time I have discovered Daal Khichdi.

Alok, a colleague at work ordered Daal Khichdi and Palak Khichdi for lunch a couple of days ago. This is a strange gruel having a lot of dal and a little rice. Palak Khichdi was olive green thanks to the spinach. This is served piping hot and I loved it so much that I had it for the next two days for lunch as well!

Airtel-Shame on You

A few months ago Airtel, the leading GSM mobile company in India had a wonderful ad running on the TV. It showed a young couple crashing their small plane in a dense jungle. Worried about survival, they try finding their way out of the mess. Soon their difficulties are solved, when the mobile phone rings and they discover that the signal in their Airtel phone was as strong as ever.

The ad was terrific underscoring the reach of Airtel. Sadly it seems that Airtel has never heard of Mumbai. While the Airtel signals are fine in remote jungles they often disappear in the concrete jungle called Mumbai. I have been virtually incommunicado, thanks to them. There is no signal in my office in Andheri East, it kept coming and going as I traveled from Andheri to Hinduja Hospital in Mahim and it completely went missing in the hospital.   Continue reading

Marketing a Hospital to those Next Doors

Marketing a hospital to those in the neighbourhood is often looked upon as the ‘low hanging fruit’ by many a marketer. The thinking goes something like this. ‘We have just started a great hospital and those in the neighbourhood cannot help but notice the swanky chrome and glass exteriors and the blazing signages on the top of the 10 floor edifice. We have world beating technology and some of the most competent and respected doctors joining us. We are streets ahead of all those who have been in this neighbourhood for years and we really do not consider them as competition. All those who have been living in this community will now flock to us.’

Honestly, this is a recipe for disaster, yet so many of us marketers are so blinded by our spanking new hospital that we do not see anything beyond it.   Continue reading

Customer Experience at the Web World

Yesterday evening I needed to buy an Internet Data Card. I walked into the store of Reliance Communications (The Webworld) at the New Friends Colony community centre in New Delhi at around 0730 PM. I knew that the store closes at 8 PM.

I found an almost deserted store.

An executive was busy stacking the CD’s of some movies on the Big Flix counter. He paid me no attention. I hesitatingly approached another individual who was busy watching television on a newly installed ‘BIG  TV’ screen. The gentleman curtly informed that there was no one available to sell me the data card.

When I remonstrated that I needed the card urgently as I was traveling to Mumbai the next day, I was told that the cards have been locked away by the sales person and he has already left for the day. When I pointed out that the store remains open till 8 PM, I was told that on Sundays executives leave earlier. No reasons were ascribed to this. The body language indicated that this is the way things were and I better accept it.

I than asked to speak with the store manager. I was informed that no one was available and when I requested for the store manager’s phone number I was told to go and get it from someone in the basement. When I reminded this gentleman that I was a customer, and he needed to get me the number, he reluctantly went downstairs and returned with a number.

I promptly called up this number and discovered that the number did not work!

By then another gentleman had turned up from the basement and he indicated that he was the Customer Care Executive. He too said that he was helpless and absolutely nothing could be done about my request. He also informed me that the store manager whose number has been given to me was on leave and not available on the phone!

When I asked for the number of the Head of Customer Care or any other senior official I was informed by the ‘customer care executive’ that no number of any other Reliacnce official was available with him.

Finally left with no choice I departed feeling outraged and disgusted.