The Power of a Compelling Story in the Marketing of a Hospital

cardiac-surgeryMany years ago, when I worked at Max Healthcare, I met an elderly man whose grand daughter had had a major cardiac surgery and was admitted in the hospital. The child was on her way to recovery and the old man was profoundly grateful to Dr. Anil Bhan, who had operated on the child. The old man narrated a very interesting tale.

The old man and his wife lived in Roorkee, a University town about 150 miles from Delhi. His son worked in a nationalised bank in Delhi and he had two grand children, twins as a matter of fact, a grand daughter and a grand son. The children now aged 11 years lived apart, the son in Delhi with his parents and the daughter with them in Roorkee.  The daughter from the time of her birth had been a sickly child and had required heart surgery, when she was 9 months old. Being a girl child and that too a sick one, her parents had entrusted her care to the old couple and they had brought her up. Clearly, the old man and his wife were extremely attached with this child and she was the apple of their eyes.

The child too enjoyed living with her grand parents and they clearly doted on her. They ensured that she received the best medical care and would regularly bring her over to AIIMS, the premier medical institute in Delhi for regular monitoring and check ups. About two years ago, when the child was 9, they had noticed that she would become breathless after a little exertion. Initially they did not worry too much, however things grew steadily worse and they became quite alarmed and brought her to Delhi.

The paediatric cardiologist at AIIMS, who has been taking care of the child in all these years told them that the child needed another surgery, an extremely rare and very risky procedure and she needed it fast. They were also told that without the surgery the prognosis was very poor. Dr. Anil Bhan, who was the paediatric surgeon who had operated on her as a eight month old infant had now moved to Max as their chief of cardiac surgery.

The old couple brought the child to Dr. Bhan, who examined her carefully and pronounced that while the surgery was extremely rare and very risky he was willing to do his best. The old couple let things in the hands of Dr. Bhan and prayed to the almighty to save their grand daughter. Dr. Bhan operated on the child and she was wheeled into the Paediatric ICU after the surgery. Soon post surgical complications set in and hopes of her survival dimmed. Dr. Bhan, however approached the old couple again and requested permission to try surgery once again. The old couple with nothing to lose, told him to go ahead.

The child was again wheeled into the OR and Dr. Bhan and his team once again made a heroic attempt to save her life. She survived the surgery and spent the next 9 days in the ICU under the watch of some very dedicated doctors. The child was than shifted to a ward and when I met the old man, he was preparing for her discharge from the hospital.

The gratitude this man had for Dr. Bhan and his team, the ICU staff and for the hospital was immense. He showed me a poem he had composed in Dr. Bhan’s honour. He could not help narrate the wonderful things that happened to him in the hospital, about the extraordinary skills of the doctors, their commitment and their indomitable spirit in not giving up on them even in the face of unbelievably daunting odds.

There can be no greater hospital marketing tool than a powerful and a compelling story narrated by the patient or a patient attendant about his experiences in the hospital.


PS: Dr. Bhan and his team has since moved to Batra Hospital in New Delhi


Pic courtesy


For a Hospital ‘Doing Good’ is Great

‘The business of Healthcare allows you to do good, and maybe also make money’, Analjit Singh, Chairman of Max Healthcare, once said this in my presence and since then I have never stopped wondering about how ‘doing good’ is just as much a part of healthcare business as is making money.

If one was to stop and ponder for a minute, one would realise that healthcare business allows one to do good from the day one starts a hospital, while the making of money takes time, sweat, blood and tears. ‘Doing Good’ to my mind is the soul of this business and anyone, who does not have this objective at the back of his mind may as well never get into this business. For as Mr. Singh would say ‘there are dozens of easier ways of making money, if that alone is the objective’.   Continue reading

A Hospital Experience By Design

Dr. Anil Bhan is an accomplished cardiac surgeon based in New Delhi. He was till recently the director of Cardiac Surgery at the upscale Max Hospital and has now moved to Batra Hospital, which is an older establishment and certainly no match for Max Hospital in spit and polish and customer service. The staff is not as well trained, or smartly turned out and lacks the quite efficiency, which characterises patient service at Max Hospital.

Recently the father of a close friend of mine needed bypass surgery. I unhesitatingly recommended Dr. Bhan. We went to see Dr. Bhan at his office at Batra hospital. As usual he inspired confidence and my friend and his father were both in agreement that Dr. Bhan was the best bet for them. We checked out the room where he was to stay after the surgery, enquired about the critical care support, blood bank and the nursing care. As we were stepping out my friend whispered that he wished Dr. Bhan was operating at some other hospital.

This of course is all in the mind. There was nothing that we found wrong with Batra Hospital. It was just that the hospital experience that he was hoping for seemed a long way off.   Continue reading