International Relations

Why Indian leaders, including Modi, are lining up to visit African countries

India now sees Africa as a promising market for Indian goods, services, and investments.

India’s relationship with Africa has been through an unprecedented intensification in June 2016. In the first week of the month, Vice President Hamid Ansari visited Tunisia and Morocco. In the second week, President Pranab Mukherjee embarked on a tour of western and southern Africa, covering Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, and Namibia. And in July, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, and South Africa.

The present renewed outreach is also unabashedly about business, and a good example of geo-politics combining with geo-economics. India views Africa as a promising market for Indian goods, services, and investments. So far though, any follow-up on promises had remained anaemic. Now, Indian leaders are seeking out fresh investment opportunities for Indian public and private sector companies in different African countries.

The vice president’s visits to Morocco and Tunisia are crucial because India imports phosphate – a critical raw material for fertiliser production – from these countries. Ansari also inaugurated an India-Morocco Chamber of Commerce during his trip to Rabat.

The president’s three-country tour provided an opportunity to further India’s business interests. At the India-Ghana Business Forum, Mukherjee said: “…the Indian Government would be ready to work with you in key sectors and areas of common interest and encourage Indian private as well as public entrepreneurs to bring more investments into Ghana.”India’s cumulative investments in Ghana are over $1 billion and two-way trade during 2015-16 amounted to $3 billion.

In Cote d’Ivoire, Mukherjee said: “…your country is blessed with fertile soil and abundant agricultural and mineral resources. Our public and private sectors are keen to join you in exploring these resources efficiently and in setting up agro-based industries.”

At the same time, India’s development diplomacy for the continent has been through a strategic shift. Exim Bank, for example, is now likely to focus more on service exports, rather than compete with China for infrastructure projects in Africa.

Global ambitions

The bank is looking to disburse close to Rs 10,000 crore in Africa over the next three years as both commercial and concessional credit. Service exports aim to build on India’s traditional strengths in Africa and will include healthcare, education, and information technology services. Exim inaugurated an office in Cote d’Ivoire during Mukherjee’s visit. The office is expected to widen the bank’s footprint in West Africa.

Exim Bank is also looking to sharpen its focus on another area of India’s traditional exports to Africa: project exports. It has requested the Reserve Bank of India to ease regulatory and compliance guidelines regarding minimum equity capital, leverage (the multiples – 3X, 4X or 8X – of share capital that a company can borrow) and the maximum that the bank can lend to a single borrower. These will be necessary if the bank is to make project exports one of its thrust areas.

These actions are in line with promises made during the Third India-Africa Forum Summit in October 2015. The first two editions of the summit – in 2008 and 2011 – made numerous pledges but fell short on follow-up and delivery. Both sides were responsible for the indifferent implementation.

The last IAFS, held in October 2015, saw a strategic shift in focus – apart from the usual rhetoric, there was a better alignment of India’s global ambitions (both political and geo-economic) and traditional strengths. Importantly, the third IAFS created a formal monitoring mechanism to regularly review the progress of various projects at different stages of completion.

The summit aimed high – it also sought to create a global alliance of solar-rich countries. Such an alliance will help create goodwill for India among Africa countries, and generate solidarity through collective bargaining when accessing IPR-protected technology from rich countries.

It’s starting with this summit that Modi has been building bridges with different African countries and soliciting support for a host of multilateral initiatives. These include backing for India’s membership of the UN Security Council along with a united front of emerging and poor economies at the World Trade Organisation.

The high-octane official Africa engagements will also help assuage concerns regarding India after recent allegedly racist incidents involving African nationals living in the country. But it is now up to India to ensure that its belated recognition of the critical role Africa can play in our strategic calculus, as well as in India’s trade and investment expansion plans, is not just a temporary spurt.

This article was first published by Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations. You can read the original article here.

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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.

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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 Scroll.in marketing team and not by the Scroll.in editorial staff.