Verdict 2014

Even India's neighbours have more women in parliament

Women form more than 20% of the lower houses in Pakistan, Nepal and China. The figure in India is just over 11%.

Women have been consistently been under-represented in parliament and the 2014 elections are no exception.

Out of 642 women candidates – 8% of the total number of people who contested this year – 60 emerged victorious. This is only two more than the number in the 2009 Lok Sabha. Though the situation is undoubtedly better than in 1977, when there were only 19 women MPs, the representation of women has not yet gone beyond a third of the 33% mark that has been recommended in the Women's Reservations Bill, which is yet to be passed.

Many other democracies have much much more successful in increasing women’s representation in their national legislatures. The global figure has nearly doubled since 1997, when the average representation of women in parliaments around the world was at 11.7%. Among the key factors that contributed to this increase was the adoption of representation quotas.

While the percentage of women representatives in India is more than 11% this year, the highest number recorded so far, it still lags behind other other countries. For instance, 18.3% of the members of the US House of Representatives are women, and 22.6% of the UK House of Commons.

In the neighbourhood, while more than 20% of the lower houses of Pakistan, Nepal and China’s are women, only 5–6% of the national legislative bodies of Myanmar, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are female.

This could partly be due to the perception that women are less likely to win elections. Carole Spary from the University of York in her study of the 2009 general elections in India suggested that parties tend not to distribute tickets to women candidates in seats deemed winnable.

However, looking at the electoral success ratio for 2014, the women who were granted tickets by their parties had an average success ratio of 38%, as compared to 27% for men.

Party-wise, the Bharatiya Janata party is sending 29 women to the Lok Sabha, the highest number from a single party ever. The Trinamool Congress has the second best tally of 10 women MPs, followed by the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam  and the Congress, with four women MPs each.

Women formed 12.2% of the candidates fielded by mainstream parties, both national and regional, a feeble improvement compared to the 10% of 2009.

In 2009, four major states (which send more than five MPs to the Lok Sabha) did not elect a single woman MP: these were Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Jharkhand. In 2014, two states  – Himachal Pradesh and Jharkhand  – have failed to elect a woman, while Jammu and Kashmir and Kerala have each elected one woman MP.

Among the women parliamentarians who have been elected the most number of times, Sumitra Mahajan of the BJP won for the eighth time from Indore, equaling the record of the late Rajmata of Gwalior, Vijay Raje Scindia. Maneka Gandhi and Uma Bharti of the BJP won for the seventh and sixth time respectively. Among the veteran women politicians, Meira Kumar lost a seat from which she had been elected five times.

It is sometimes argued that successful women politicians generally owe their careers to the connections of their male family members, wealth and social status. A quick look at some of the losing star women campaigners – Rabri Devi, Ambika Soni, Vijayamma, Deepa Dasmunshi, Priya Dutt, Medha Patkar, Smriti Irani and Gul Panag – show that the reality is different.

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What hospitals can do to drive entrepreneurship and enhance patient experience

Hospitals can perform better by partnering with entrepreneurs and encouraging a culture of intrapreneurship focused on customer centricity.

At the Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, visitors don’t have to worry about navigating their way across the complex hospital premises. All they need to do is download wayfinding tools from the installed digital signage onto their smartphone and get step by step directions. Other hospitals have digital signage in surgical waiting rooms that share surgery updates with the anxious families waiting outside, or offer general information to visitors in waiting rooms. Many others use digital registration tools to reduce check-in time or have Smart TVs in patient rooms that serve educational and anxiety alleviating content.

Most of these tech enabled solutions have emerged as hospitals look for better ways to enhance patient experience – one of the top criteria in evaluating hospital performance. Patient experience accounts for 25% of a hospital’s Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) score as per the US government’s Centres for Medicare and Mediaid Services (CMS) programme. As a Mckinsey report says, hospitals need to break down a patient’s journey into various aspects, clinical and non-clinical, and seek ways of improving every touch point in the journey. As hospitals also need to focus on delivering quality healthcare, they are increasingly collaborating with entrepreneurs who offer such patient centric solutions or encouraging innovative intrapreneurship within the organization.

At the Hospital Leadership Summit hosted by Abbott, some of the speakers from diverse industry backgrounds brought up the role of entrepreneurship in order to deliver on patient experience.

Getting the best from collaborations

Speakers such as Dr Naresh Trehan, Chairman and Managing Director - Medanta Hospitals, and Meena Ganesh, CEO and MD - Portea Medical, who spoke at the panel discussion on “Are we fit for the world of new consumers?”, highlighted the importance of collaborating with entrepreneurs to fill the gaps in the patient experience eco system. As Dr Trehan says, “As healthcare service providers we are too steeped in our own work. So even though we may realize there are gaps in customer experience delivery, we don’t want to get distracted from our core job, which is healthcare delivery. We would rather leave the job of filling those gaps to an outsider who can do it well.”

Meena Ganesh shares a similar view when she says that entrepreneurs offer an outsider’s fresh perspective on the existing gaps in healthcare. They are therefore better equipped to offer disruptive technology solutions that put the customer right at the center. Her own venture, Portea Medical, was born out of a need in the hitherto unaddressed area of patient experience – quality home care.

There are enough examples of hospitals that have gained significantly by partnering with or investing in such ventures. For example, the Children’s Medical Centre in Dallas actively invests in tech startups to offer better care to its patients. One such startup produces sensors smaller than a grain of sand, that can be embedded in pills to alert caregivers if a medication has been taken or not. Another app delivers care givers at customers’ door step for check-ups. Providence St Joseph’s Health, that has medical centres across the U.S., has invested in a range of startups that address different patient needs – from patient feedback and wearable monitoring devices to remote video interpretation and surgical blood loss monitoring. UNC Hospital in North Carolina uses a change management platform developed by a startup in order to improve patient experience at its Emergency and Dermatology departments. The platform essentially comes with a friendly and non-intrusive way to gather patient feedback.

When intrapreneurship can lead to patient centric innovation

Hospitals can also encourage a culture of intrapreneurship within the organization. According to Meena Ganesh, this would mean building a ‘listening organization’ because as she says, listening and being open to new ideas leads to innovation. Santosh Desai, MD& CEO - Future Brands Ltd, who was also part of the panel discussion, feels that most innovations are a result of looking at “large cultural shifts, outside the frame of narrow business”. So hospitals will need to encourage enterprising professionals in the organization to observe behavior trends as part of the ideation process. Also, as Dr Ram Narain, Executive Director, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, points out, they will need to tell the employees who have the potential to drive innovative initiatives, “Do not fail, but if you fail, we still back you.” Innovative companies such as Google actively follow this practice, allowing employees to pick projects they are passionate about and work on them to deliver fresh solutions.

Realizing the need to encourage new ideas among employees to enhance patient experience, many healthcare enterprises are instituting innovative strategies. Henry Ford System, for example, began a system of rewarding great employee ideas. One internal contest was around clinical applications for wearable technology. The incentive was particularly attractive – a cash prize of $ 10,000 to the winners. Not surprisingly, the employees came up with some very innovative ideas that included: a system to record mobility of acute care patients through wearable trackers, health reminder system for elderly patients and mobile game interface with activity trackers to encourage children towards exercising. The employees admitted later that the exercise was so interesting that they would have participated in it even without a cash prize incentive.

Another example is Penn Medicine in Philadelphia which launched an ‘innovation tournament’ across the organization as part of its efforts to improve patient care. Participants worked with professors from Wharton Business School to prepare for the ideas challenge. More than 1,750 ideas were submitted by 1,400 participants, out of which 10 were selected. The focus was on getting ideas around the front end and some of the submitted ideas included:

  • Check-out management: Exclusive waiting rooms with TV, Internet and other facilities for patients waiting to be discharged so as to reduce space congestion and make their waiting time more comfortable.
  • Space for emotional privacy: An exclusive and friendly space for individuals and families to mourn the loss of dear ones in private.
  • Online patient organizer: A web based app that helps first time patients prepare better for their appointment by providing check lists for documents, medicines, etc to be carried and giving information regarding the hospital navigation, the consulting doctor etc.
  • Help for non-English speakers: Iconography cards to help non-English speaking patients express themselves and seek help in case of emergencies or other situations.

As Arlen Meyers, MD, President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs, says in a report, although many good ideas come from the front line, physicians must also be encouraged to think innovatively about patient experience. An academic study also builds a strong case to encourage intrapreneurship among nurses. Given they comprise a large part of the front-line staff for healthcare delivery, nurses should also be given the freedom to create and design innovative systems for improving patient experience.

According to a Harvard Business Review article quoted in a university study, employees who have the potential to be intrapreneurs, show some marked characteristics. These include a sense of ownership, perseverance, emotional intelligence and the ability to look at the big picture along with the desire, and ideas, to improve it. But trust and support of the management is essential to bringing out and taking the ideas forward.

Creating an environment conducive to innovation is the first step to bringing about innovation-driven outcomes. These were just some of the insights on healthcare management gleaned from the Hospital Leadership Summit hosted by Abbott. In over 150 countries, Abbott, which is among the top 100 global innovator companies, is working with hospitals and healthcare professionals to improve the quality of health services.

To read more content on best practices for hospital leaders, visit Abbott’s Bringing Health to Life portal here.

This article was produced on behalf of Abbott by the marketing team and not by the editorial staff.