Delivering a lecture at the University of California, Berkeley, on Tuesday, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi slipped into his favourite role: that of the “reluctant politician”, of the outsider looking in. Asked about dynastic politics, he reportedly said that is how things worked across organisations in India, from political parties to industrial empires. He is then believed to have said, with some drollery, that while some in the Congress did not come from dynasties, others happened to have had a father, grandmother and great-grandfather in politics. “Not much I can do about it,” he said.
Gandhi’s remarks now, good humour notwithstanding, are reminiscent of the sentimental speech delivered to Congress followers in 2013, when he declared that “power is poison”. That was when he was anointed Congress vice president, and not many outside the party were convinced by the image of the noble scion forced to take up the mantle reserved for him. In the four years since then, he has done little to correct the systemic flaws of the party he inherited, let alone the politics he joined.
As Gandhi points out, the Congress stopped having the “conversation” that parties need to have, both within the organisation and with the electorate, sometime in 2012. The Congress Working Committee, once a forum for political brainstorming, is now irrelevant, according to observers, and the party’s decision-making mechanisms remain opaque and centralised. While senior party leaders believe the party should be expanding its base and firming up its internal structures, the Congress’s election strategy in key states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh has been to tie up with regional parties in the hope that it will boost its appeal to a frankly disenchanted electorate.
In the lead up to polls in Assam, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s regional offices bustled with activity while most of the Congress leadership departed for Delhi to take orders from the high command. Even now, many question the wisdom of Gandhi’s two week tour to the United States on the eve of the Gujarat elections. Meanwhile, BJP president Amit Shah, immediately after engineering a spectacular election victory in Uttar Pradesh, started planning a countrywide tour to meet booth-level workers. In state after state, the BJP has reached out, projecting itself as an attractive political prospect, picking off many of the Congress’s own local leaders. The grand old party seemed to have folded into itself, growing increasingly insular, offering few channels for the political ambitions of leaders outside the established dynasties.
Gandhi can no longer pretend to be powerless in the face of a ruthless political machinery. As the anointed leader-in-waiting for years now, he has set the tone of the party and has a considerable say in how it functions. Contrary to his claims at Berkeley, there is much he can do about it.
The Big Scroll
Anita Katyal writes how the Congress Working Committee meets have been hollowed out. She also points to the difference in the way Amit Shah and Rahul Gandhi are preparing for the Gujarat elections.
Rohan Venkataramakrishnan on the long wait for Rahul Gandhi to become Congress president.
In the Indian Express, Ravi Nair points out that Delhi is impervious to the United Nations’ criticism about its stance on the Ronhingya issue.
In the Hindu, C Rangarajan on the course correction the Indian economy needs.
In the Telegraph, Samantak Das on the dangers of silence, in both India and the United States.
Deepanjan Ghosh writes about the misdirected anger against a Jawed Habib advertisement for Durga Puja:
“Bengali children grow up with stories of Durga slaying Mahishasur, the demon who took the form of a buffalo. Durga’s children are treated more like distant cousins than distant gods – each has a distinct character. Ganesh is the plump, obedient, occasionally mischievous, child who is bullied by others. Kartik is always nattily dressed, and perhaps a little vain. Lakshmi is the naughty one and Saraswati the studious, serious one. If one were to think of gods as family, it would logically follow that one could sometimes josh with them, the way Bengalis are known to do.”
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.