poetry picks

In October (and autumn), six poems about age

The seventh in a monthly series of selected poetry on different themes.

Gone

Mamang Dai

We have long journeys in our blood.
The road has no end.
The lanes and streets are lined in my eyes,
the horizon burns in my head.
At night we sleep with guns and gulls
tugging at land and oceans,
and ropes coiled to barren rock
where once flowers were to seed
pumping blood, and singing voices.

How would anyone know what we have tried to do,
when there was me, and you,
and there was the burnt black hill
monumental with the faces of our people,
until the next moonrise showed us
something about change,
and the existence of dreams.

The steep hillside is a hard place.
There is nowhere to rest our feet
even when I want to kneel and pray,
moved to tears by a rainbow sky.

What is felt
left unsaid,
is a sadness.
Bereft of our symbols
this strange tattoo in my heart
is the sound of footsteps.

I know the clouds are hiding behind your eyes
even as you kiss my brow,
but this is the way that was promised us
the day we met ten thousand messengers
carrying the whispers of the world.


Memorial Time

EV Ramakrishnan

The mirror wall is etched
with letters.
You touch them as if you are carving names
in human flesh.
Memorial poles stand between
the living and the departed.
The bells commemorate
silence.
The boatman at the ferry knows
those with fewer words
will never
return.
I abandoned
a third of my words
at every ferry-crossing
to reach here.
Behind the mirror of water, there
is a realm of glass for those who are gone
from language, but none for those
whose language is gone.


Being Seventeen, Being Boys

K Srilata

It’s cricket in the blazing heat
and they are back,
a glisten of faces,
grime-trail on the bathroom floor.
Over tall mountains of rice,
a brief hungry silence,
and then, the ribbing-each-other
about school crushes and missed catches.
And to think that they are done,
nearly done,
being boys.

First published in Poetry At Sangam


The United States of Amnesia

Sophia Naz

Welcome to the United States of Amnesia
Where the average attention span is
an albatross around the neck of history
drowning in largesse of half-caf mocha frappucino

At every other corner, nine tenths
of teeth submerge in this melting pot, super bowl
of guillotined Halloween, cropped and photoshopped
to the death and the bell trolls a Clockwork Orange
clones & minions man the phones
ringing off the hook like
an armless pirate with his peddling
finger on the twitter
out to abduct you
only, lonely immigrant child, America
this illegal erection election year
unlike any other in living
erasure

Welcome to the Dystopian States
of Amnesia, to the gloom of the homeless underpasses
to the panhandling flutes drowned out
in the tropics of the nocturnal subterranean

Washed up on your shores like a bottle with a pent up ocean in my bladder
memory is the only currency I hold
the infected blankets up to the light, I know
the smell of genocide. I have watched
women shamed as witches, watched them fall
like dominos on a Salem noon. I have met Sally Hemings and the strange
fruit of your history, America. I have fallen in your uncivil war
of a thousand and one episodes. This beast you thought you tamed? He prowls
the profiled night wearing
a police uniform

Beneath your bipolar indifference
a glacial racial iced age is dying
unseen below decks
in red bullet points
in blue moans

While a white white sea
sails on


How A Very Old Poem Might Read

Kala Krishnan Ramesh

Those you love best know
where suddenly your shore curves
into unexplored landings,
and which coves
you are drawn into on certain days.
Those who are newly arrived
will always ask,
“And what lies there, beyond that
curve,
where even the sun’s light seems different,
may we sometime take a look?”
On the days that you love best,
boats come bearing untold tales,
and he and she you love best
lay their heads close to yours
on the sand’s warm,
and speak of
things that take you where
you have loved to be.
In this river
which is never the same
and never the same again,
where even the accustomed moon is
caught unawares,
each of us will
sometimes stagger and fearing
unmentionable things, ask,
“Are you still mine, are you mine,
and sometimes, mine alone?”


Old Man’s Death

Gieve Patel

There may be a very small comfort
In knowing yourself finally
Useless – when even grandchildren
Have grown beyond your love,
And your would-be widow
Has outhobbled you and
Wont be around to break with
One or two of her last thick tears,
And you not caring much for
Your fellowmen, the doctors
Wont get your body –
To know how simply you
Will be bundled away, startling
A lifelong friend who finds
He cannot mourn
At the quick and easy changes:
A sprinkling of water,
The disappearance of an odour,
A turn of bed-sheets, leaving
A bed, a chair,
Perhaps a whole room,
With clarity in them.


This selection is curated by Rohini Kejriwal. She also curates The Alipore Post, a daily newsletter stemming from a love of​ art, poetry, music, and all things beautiful.

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.