Dr. Naresh Trehan at the HT Leadership Summit

Dr. TrehanI had the privilege of listening to Dr. Naresh Trehan at the HT Leadership Summit organised by the Hindustan Times in New Delhi on Oct 30th and 31st 2009. The Leadership Summit has over the years become the marquee event in the city’s calendar and leaders like the Prime Minister, the Finance Minister and a former US President (George W Bush) addressed the gathering, which was composed of the who’s who of the Delhi elite. Dr. Trehan, who is widely regarded as one of the most accomplished cardiac surgeons in the country, was invited to speak on the challenges that the healthcare industry faces and how he saw things working out by 2020.

Dr. Trehan spoke with great passion and expressed anguish at the huge gap that exists in the supply of healthcare to the haves and ‘have nots’  in our country. “While Delhi draws thousands of patients from across the globe, 50 kms outside the city, one would struggle to find a qualified physician. India has some of the finest healthcare facilities, comparable to the very best anywhere in the world, which offer services at a fraction of the cost in the west, yet most Indians can hardly access these. The real challenge is how do we bridge this huge divide”, pointed out Dr. Trehan.

The prescription that he had for the malaise was simple enough.   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