The Buzz in Lucknow

lucknowI was in Lucknow over the extended weekend and was alarmed to discover the city inundated with Mayawati. Mayawati, who is the chief minister of UP can be encountered almost as soon as you step out of the railway station. The city has been completely plastered with her posters, hoardings, pole kiosks, buntings and even statues. Mayawati seems to be omnipresent. In most of these she is seen sharing space with one Akhilesh Das, who is apparently the nominee of her party for the forthcoming Loksabha elections. The constituency is presently represented by the former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

Akhilesh Das is a local politician, who used to be with the Congress till he was dropped from the union cabinet as a junior minister. He promptly switched sides and is now busy mollycoddling Mayawati. He also happens to be the son of a former chief minister of UP, Babu Banarsi Das.   Continue reading

The Patient Prime Minister

dr-manmohan-singhThe Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh underwent a multiple bypass surgery at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) a few days ago. Dr. Singh is a diabetic and has a history of heart ailments. He has had a bypass surgery almost 20 years ago and also had to undergo an angioplasty subsequently. Dr. Singh is 76. The surgery was performed by the eminent cardiac surgeon Dr. Ramakant Panda, who is considered to be the foremost expert in ‘redo’ bypass surgeries. Dr. Panda, who is presently the CEO of the Asian Heart Institute, Mumbai is also an alumni of the prestigious AIIMS.aiims

While the extremely challenging surgery went of well and the Prime Minister is recovering, I could not help but wonder at the Marketing opportunity celebrity patients present for the hospital and the doctors.

Dr. Ramakant Panda is a very well known surgeon but the kind of fame that operating on the Prime Minister will bring to him would do his already busy practice a world of good. It would also rub off on the Asian Heart Institute, which he heads. AIIMS of course is the premium medical institute in the country. That the Prime Minister chose it over any other hospital in the country is a great vote of confidence in the medical capabilities of the doctors and medical team at AIIMS.

Many years ago Atal Behari Vajpaye, the than Prime Minister of India had had a knee replacement surgery at the Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai. Dr. Chitranjan Ranawat, a surgeon of Indian origin based in New York had operated on the Prime Minister. The hospital had remained in the limelight for many weeks, with the tremendous media coverage around the event. Though the Prime Minister recovered, his unseemly tottering  gait remained a poor advertisement for the surgery.     Continue reading

Homeopathy in a Modern Hospital

homeopathyA few days ago I received an sms from Artemis Hospital exhorting me to check out their Homeopathy services! This seemed strange as Artemis Hospital is one of the most advanced centres of medical care in North India and boasts of the highest level of medical advancement. It has invested tonnes of money on advanced imaging equipment such as a 3T MR, a 64 slice CT scanner, a PET CT and a 4D Doppler amongst other fancy stuff.

Artemis has highly experienced doctors and surgeons who literally operate on the cutting edge of technology. Amongst all this Homeopathy seems to be a little out of place.

Ask any doctor worth his salt about homeopathy and other alternate systems of medicine common in India and he will be downright derisive or at best will say that he is not sure of their efficacy. Doctors are trained in the science of medicine and surgery and rely on scientific evidence proven in laboratories and tested on animals and humans in scientifically designed and executed clinical trials. For them to accept homeopathy, ayurveda or the yunani system of medicine as effective treatment is difficult. Yet we have a modern hospital offering the services of a homeopath. I am intrigued.

Now, I have nothing against any system of medicine. I am sure the practitioners of any of these alternate systems of medicine have their own methods of diagnosing and treating people and I would also concede that there are enough people who believe in them. However I do know that God forbid, if I ever need serious medical attention I would head straight to a doctor qualified and experienced in the western system of medicine.  To me that is a straightforward choice.

I am also against mixing the modern western medicine with the likes of homoepathy and ayurveda. They just do not mix well. I would think twice about referring a friend to a modern hospital, which also offers homeopathy and ayurveda. Somehow, it appears that the hospital and the medical folks do not have enough faith in their own system of medicine. It seems like a tacit admission of the fact that these ancient alternative systems of medicines have something to offer even when modern medicine has failed. This I personally find hard to believe.

Arguments about offering a choice of medical systems to patients are also common place. This to my mind is bunkum. The patient wants a cure for whatever ails him. He wants it fast,with minimal pain and with a certain degree of reliability. He cares two hoots about the choice of medical system. If he walks into a hospital, he has already professed his faith in the western system of medicine. Offering anything else to him is downright foolhardy.

Why would Artemis hire the services of a homeopath and than go about promoting it? I can only say that if they are serious about homeopathy, they can always consider launching a homeopathy institute and call it something appropriate. After all Artemis Homeopathy Institute does sound weird. 

Pic courtesy http://www.flickr.com

 

 

The time of the AOP

spreadsheetIt is again that time of the year, when folks like me get busy churning out fancy annual operating plans (AOP). I dare say that some times this exercise turns into a great farce, a tug of war where there are no winners and everybody ends up on the floor exhausted.

Now don’t get me wrong. An annual operating plan, which spells out the annual goals of the business enterprise, the revenue projections, the budgeting of costs, the complex analysis is an integral part of managing a business. The AOP is essential as it helps set the agenda, gives direction and helps allocate scarce resources in alignment with business goals.

However, while these objectives in themselves are laudable, the AOP often gets hijacked and becomes an exercise in conjuring up fancy numbers, which are no more than wishful thinking of the powers that be in an organisation. The AOP than becomes a football, which is kicked around and the spreadsheets keep spewing numbers till a set catches the fancy of the powers that be and voila, you have got an Annual Operating Plan.

Here are a check list of things that I would definitely do, while preparing an AOP.   Continue reading

The PR Story

newspaper-storiesAs I wearily settled into the cramped seat of a Spicejet flight to Mumbai this morning, I pulled out the Metro Nation a tabloid format newspaper and started flipping through the pages. Suddenly an image of my former colleague Dr. Deep Goel, the head of Laparoscopic and Bariatric Surgery at Artemis Health Institute, Gurgaon caught my attention. Dr. Goel was featured in the story along with a 200 kg Canadian patient, whom he had successfully operated upon (performing sleeve gastrectomy) and discharged from the hospital with in 24 hours. The story albeit poorly written (the journalist appears to be totally ignorant about medicine, medical procedures, surgeries et al), did manage to inform the readers about Dr. Goel’s superlative skills and about the Bariatric Surgery at Artemis.

Last week I had come across the story of a successful heart transplant in Chennai, when the donor was in Bangalore a team of surgeons from Chennai successfully harvested a heart in Bangaloreand transplanted it in a policeman in Chennai. Stories about Pakistani children being successfully treated for congenital heart diseases at Narayan Hridyalaya in Bangalore and undergoing liver transplants at Apollo Hospital in Delhi have routinely appeared in national media. Celebrities being treated at Leelawati and Breach Candy hospitals in Mumbai are also commonplace.   Continue reading

The Satyam Way

ramalinga-rajuWith the fraud at Satyam dominating news it is difficult not to comment on this sordid affair. The fraud’s gargantuan proportions, its diabolical nature and the underlying greed, all under a thick cover of respectability has seriously dented the image of corporate India. 

While the experts dissect the details of how a fraud of such massive proportions was so successfully carried out for years with no one any the wiser, ordinary investors who as always will suffer the most must ask questions not only from the iconic Ramalinga Raju, but from many others as well.

SEBI, the so called watchdog has been caught napping. In the aftermath of the scam one must ask what kind of a watchdog is SEBI. How did Satyam systematically, quarter on quarter, report huge revenues and profits and nobody smelt a rat. How come no one noticed its bulging accounts receivables, which now appear to be fictitious. Shouldn’t SEBI be held accountable for serious lapses amounting to dereliction of duty?   Continue reading

Driving OPD’s

opd

Outpatient Department or the OPD is critical in the marketing of a hospital. It is the OPD, which drives the admissions in the hospital and the diagnostics including the pathology and imaging. It keeps the doctors busy and the hospital buzzing. The success of various Marketing activities is usually measured by the number of incremental patients who walk through the hospital doors during the promotion.

Here are some ideas on driving the OPD volumes.

Marketing Promotions

I know, many people believe that for a hospital to be involved in Marketing promotions is a strict no no. Offers like free consults and 30% off on all diagnostics somehow seems too much like a ‘Sale’ at the neighbourhood supermarket. However, the truth is that promotions work. Many people like to avail of the promotional offers, walk into the hospital to see a doctor for a long ignored niggling problem and many like to avail themselves of a discount on a CT or MR. The trick here is not to overdo it and to ensure that the communication is not overtly commercial or over the top. I would reckon 4 big promotions a year, (one a quarter) would be fine.   Continue reading