The Daily Fix

‘India’s only global city deserves better’: Nine reads from Left & Right on the Mumbai stampede

Commentators are unanimous in demanding better policymaking that allows Mumbai to make its own decisions, although not many believe it will happen.

On September 29, a stampede on a hyper-congested bridge in Mumbai left 23 dead and scores more injured. The incident was sadly not hard to understand. With a population of more than 20 million squeezed into a tiny city that relies heavily on transport infrastructure that is decades old and has not been adequately upgraded, Mumbai is a series of disasters waiting to happen. More than 8 million people travel on the creaking Mumbai suburban local trains every day, and on average nine people die daily while using them.

In effect, every three days there is a death toll on the Mumbai local railway system as bad as the stampede on September 29, a horrific reminder of how India’s commercial hub can barely guarantee the safety of its residents, let alone help them prosper. Few believe the city will do much about it. The Mumbai spirit has gone from a symbol of resilience into a caricature, a cliche to be trotted out every time the more and more frequent disasters hit the city.

As expected, there was plenty of commentary about the disaster, as well as what Mumbai can or must do to change.

  1. “A city that aspires to be be true to its people, let alone be world class, cannot survive on spirit alone; it will eventually break down. That breaking point is nearing fast, and the sooner Maharashtra’s and Delhi’s lawmakers wake up to it, the better,” writes Sachin Kalbag, Resident Editor of the Hindu.
  2. “If Charles Correa’s vision for Mumbai had been implemented in the 1990s, the Elphinstone Road stampede could have been avoided,” says a leader in Mint.
  3. “Don’t expect Narendra Modi, who often claims he has become prime minister to do “big things”, and not “small things”, to do anything. Radical urban governance reforms are too big a thing for him, or for Mumbai’s chauvinistic politicians, to even attempt. Meanwhile, my beloved Mumbai, your agony will continue,” writes Sudheendra Kulkarni, chairman of the Observer Research Foundation in the Indian Express.
  4. “Coordination and cooperation among all public authorities concerned needs to take place not just in response to a crisis but as a regular and routine feature of the governance set-up. This requires a single coordinating agency,” write Sahil Gandhi, Assistant Professor at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai and Vaidehi Tandel, Junior Fellow, IDFC Institute, in the Hindu.
  5. Darryl D’Monte, a veteran environment journalist, in The Wire reminds us of the history of the area where the stampede happened, and how urban authorities completely failed to prepare or adapt to the transformation of Elphinstone-Lower Parel from a mill workers space to a white collar office destination.
  6. “What happened at Elphinstone could have, at least, been delayed a few years with superior crowd management techniques. There are ample models available, and ample scope of improvement. The police in India is trained to “control” crowds, not “manage” them,” writes Harnidh Kaur, a policy analyst, in Mint.
  7. “Mumbai deserves respect in the form of sustainable, democratic development in return for the way it supports the country financially. We don’t need development that has gone “crazy”! We need our voice to be heard, acted on the way Mumbai wants it to be,” writes Aditya Thackeray, president of the Yuva Sena, on NDTV.
  8. “What Mumbai needs is a scientific, data-driven overhaul of plans. Projects must be reoriented based on today’s needs and numbers, and must mandatorily provide capacity for today’s crowds. That would require a grounded and syncretic planning and execution. So long as ideas are lifted, without modification, from Shanghai or Dubai or elsewhere, hand-wringing at Mumbai’s unusual densities will continue,” says a leader in the Indian Express. “India’s only truly global city deserves better.”
  9. Activists and experts have blamed the existing structure of railways that puts Western and Central railway chiefs at the helm of suburban railway, but they are also saddled with the responsibility of long-distance trains and freight operations,” writes Aroosa Ahmed in the Hindustan Times. “From 2010, proposals from passenger activists to have an independent authority for the suburban railway network to run day-to-day services, maintain them, address commuter woes, have gone unheeded. Post the stampede, things may change.

Scroll on the stampede

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

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