On Sunday, violence returned to West Bengal. As citizens voted in civic polls, party workers roamed about brandishing firearms, hurling petrol bombs, damaging electronic voting machines, beating up voters and heckling journalists. In a number of booths, Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party candidates withdrew. The state election commission chief reportedly remained unreachable, deaf to frantic appeals made by Opposition parties in the state. Presumably, the violence was not the monopoly of only one party. But the ruling dispensation, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her Trinamool Congress, has a lot to answer for.
The Trinamool’s election conduct has always left much to be desired. Ever since the party came to power in 2011, unseating the 34-year-old Left Front government, Bengal has slowly returned to the kind of poll violence and intimidation that was fading. The Assembly elections of 2016 left at least one person dead, and the ear of a Left Front party worker was sliced off. Before that, in 2013, a nervous Trinamool had gone into panchayat elections just after the Sarada chit fund scam broke, implicating several party leaders. The party swept the polls, but not without violence that killed at least 10, left policemen injured and houses damaged. In about 11% of the seats, the party won unopposed. In many places, Opposition candidates were forced to go underground after filing their nominations.
This habit of brute force could be underpinned by a new panic. Over the last few years, the BJP party has been gaining ground in the state, adding to its vote share and promising to unseat the Left as the chief opposition. While the Assembly election results showed it was still a long way off, the saffron party has taken keen interest in the state, with BJP president Amit Shah declaring their new slogan was “Ebar Bangla”, This time Bengal. The BJP’s rising graph in the state has been accompanied by simmering communal tensions and ugly spats with the Trinamool. But the ruling party in the state is challenged from the left as well as the right. A few months ago, protests against a power plant in Bhangar gave rise to scenes that were reminiscent of the famous confrontations at Singur and Nandigram. Interestingly, Banerjee had been at the forefront of protests against land acquisition by the ruling dispensation then.
The Trinamool’s formidable support bank is still far from crumbling. But if the party is to maintain credibility, both in its home turf and at the national level, it must ensure that elections are conducted peacefully and opposition workers are allowed to function freely.
The Big Scroll
Shoaib Daniyal explores the explosive Trinamool-BJP rivalry in Bengal.
Subrata Nagchoudhary reports on the land agitation in Bhangar, reminiscent of Singur and Nandigram, which became the first big challenge to Banerjee’s undisputed reign.
In the Indian Express, Hilal Ahmed challenges the idea of Muslim homogeneity, explaining how different contexts in different states shape the community’s political preferences.
In the Hindu, RK Raghavan on how the police’s perception of public safety, and their own role in it, is changing, but all too slowly.
In the Telegraph, Manini Chatterjee argues that the Election Commission must allay fears about electronic voting machines.
Faisal Fareed on the Bahujan Samaj Party’s possible change of tack:
“With Siddiqui’s expulsion, it is now clear the Bahujan Samaj Party has decided to tone down its pursuit of Muslim voters. The action against Siddiqui has led to resentment in the community. ‘It is nothing new for BSP,’ said Syed Asif Raza Jafri, an Urdu journalist. ‘During her [Mayawati’s] first tenure as chief minister, she sacked minister Dr Masood from the party. After every election, she shifts the blame upon Muslims for her defeat. Siddiqui also met the same fate.’
Feroze Waziri, who owns a carpet export unit in Uttar Pradesh, said Mayawati had never tried to cultivate leaders. ‘She always preferred money over leaders,’ he said. ‘The result is obvious. Muslims are an easy scapegoat.’”
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 cardstohelp 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.