The Daily Fix

The Daily Fix: ICJ judge win shows what India can achieve with determined – and quiet – diplomacy

Everything you need to know for the day (and a little more).

The Big Story: Speak softly

The Indian diplomatic corps is rejoicing this weekend, having notched up a relatively significant victory over a First World power, a victory that seems even more significant because that nation was the United Kingdom. In a one-on-one contest to fill an empty seat at the International Court of Justice, India garnered sufficient support and pushed enough buttons to convince its former colonial ruler to drop out of the race. That ensured re-election for India’s candidate, Justice Dalveer Bhandari, and also marked the first time in the court’s seven-decade-long existence that one of the P-5 – the five permanent nations on the Security Council – would not be at the table.

Fed by diplomats speaking mostly anonymously to journalists, the Indian press is full of triumphal stories, reporting on how one diligent junior officer’s dogged work highlighted the technicalities that bolstered India’s cause and how embassies around the world were pressed into action. Even the British recognised the significance of India’s win, with the local press seeing it as evidence of the UK’s diminished global stature and a ruling party Member of Parliament telling the Foreign Secretary it is a sign of a failure.

However, there are some who insist this is just a consolation prize because India failed to win the spot that traditionally goes to an Asian nation. (That went to Lebanon.) Others are quick to point out that this will not help India’s case in Khulbushan Jadhav matter, where India is currently tussling with Pakistan at the International Court of Justice about a former Indian Navy man jailed for allegedly being a spy. Islamabad will get an ad-hoc judge of its own to balance the fact that New Delhi has one at the table.

But those arguments miss the point. This is not a judicial victory, but a diplomatic one. Breaching the P-5 wall is a greater achievement than simply securing the Asian votes. From either perspective, India has pulled off something significant, one that strikes a small blow in a bigger war: reforming the United Nations Security Council and getting the world to acknowledge the balance shifting away from the traditional powers.

For India, it is important to contrast this with the extremely public diplomacy around the push last year to enter the Nuclear Suppliers Group. That effort, like this one, came with plenty of determined action from embassies, the External Affairs Minister and even the prime minister. But it also saw politicians and diplomats constantly feeding the press, helping create a climate where it seemed as if India was going into a do-or-die battle with China even though the outcome would be mostly symbolic.

In the event, India lost the battle and, because it had been so vocal about the effort, some face as well. Speak softly, and carry a big stick, US President Teddy Roosevelt said decades ago. Even though that adage has come to be seen as an endorsement of bellicosity in America, Roosevelt actually meant it as a call for careful diplomacy that will be much more fruitful. The difference of outcomes in the International Court of Justice and Nuclear Suppliers Group battles should inspire India’s foreign policy corps to consider Roosevelt’s advice.

Subscribe to “The Daily Fix” by either downloading Scroll’s Android app or opting for it to be delivered to your mailbox. For the rest of the day’s headlines do click here.

If you have any concerns about our coverage of particular issues, please write to the Readers’ Editor at readerseditor@scroll.in

Punditry

  1. “The controversy over the film Padmavati once again reminded us that the fragility of our identities, the layers of resentment that constitute our sense of self, the emboldening of the most lumpen elements in our society, intellectual confusions over the law, and the sheer lack of constitutional courage in most of our politicians make India increasingly unfit for liberty,” writes Pratap Bhanu Mehta in the Indian Express.
  2. “Now we have the inspiring spectacle of a Rajput monk who runs Uttar Pradesh, a Maratha queen who rules Rajputana and a Thakur chief minister in charge of India’s central province, asking that a film be banned or bowdlerised because a medieval Muslim poet created a fictional Hindu heroine and turned a real Muslim ruler into a proper villain. What could be more secular than that?” asks Mukul Kesavan in the Telegraph.
  3. Vivek Kaul in Swarajya explains that the government cannot do very much if restaurants choose not to reduce their prices after the GST rejig.
  4. In the Hindu, Narayan Lakshman explains why the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s desire to stay in power at all cost is deeply dangerous for Tamil Nadu.
  5. “All over the world, governments subsidise and take care of their farmers. Here we push them to suicide,” writes Colin Gonsalves in the Indian Express.

Giggle

Don’t miss

Arti Das explains why Goa’s famous Mapusa market is a perennial source of inspiration for artists.

“Mapusa market is an important reminder of the fact that Goa is an agrarian society, not just a tourist destination. Here, in the relatively small space, mainly women bring produce from their farms along with handmade things like chorizo, pottery, cane baskets, vinegar and pickles. Anyone can sell their produce here. One merely has to just pay a sopo or rent.

‘The first thing you notice about Mapusa market is the riot of colours,’ said Niyati Patre, a regular at the market. ‘Even though it is crowded and messy, I love to shop here mainly for the local produce, medicinal herbs, plant saplings, coconut jaggery. This place is a must-see during the purumed or provisions market, just before the monsoon. At that time it is filled with spices, kokum and local rice. The market has remained the same all these years.’

It was partly this vibrancy that inspired photographer Assavri Kulkarni, author of the book Markets of Goa, to begin documenting it over a decade ago.”

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

Putting the patient first - insights for hospitals to meet customer service expectations

These emerging solutions are a fine balance between technology and the human touch.

As customers become more vocal and assertive of their needs, their expectations are changing across industries. Consequently, customer service has gone from being a hygiene factor to actively influencing the customer’s choice of product or service. This trend is also being seen in the healthcare segment. Today good healthcare service is no longer defined by just qualified doctors and the quality of medical treatment offered. The overall ambience, convenience, hospitality and the warmth and friendliness of staff is becoming a crucial way for hospitals to differentiate themselves.

A study by the Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions in fact indicates that good patient experience is also excellent from a profitability point of view. The study, conducted in the US, analyzed the impact of hospital ratings by patients on overall margins and return on assets. It revealed that hospitals with high patient-reported experience scores have higher profitability. For instance, hospitals with ‘excellent’ consumer assessment scores between 2008 and 2014 had a net margin of 4.7 percent, on average, as compared to just 1.8 percent for hospitals with ‘low’ scores.

This clearly indicates that good customer service in hospitals boosts loyalty and goodwill as well as financial performance. Many healthcare service providers are thus putting their efforts behind: understanding constantly evolving customer expectations, solving long-standing problems in hospital management (such as long check-out times) and proactively offering a better experience by leveraging technology and human interface.

The evolving patient

Healthcare service customers, who comprise both the patient and his or her family and friends, are more exposed today to high standards of service across industries. As a result, hospitals are putting patient care right on top of their priorities. An example of this in action can be seen in the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. In July 2015, the hospital launched a ‘Smart OPD’ system — an integrated mobile health system under which the entire medical ecosystem of the hospital was brought together on a digital app. Patients could use the app to book/reschedule doctor’s appointments and doctors could use it to access a patient’s medical history, write prescriptions and schedule appointments. To further aid the process, IT assistants were provided to help those uncomfortable with technology.

The need for such initiatives and the evolving nature of patient care were among the central themes of the recently concluded Abbott Hospital Leadership Summit. The speakers included pundits from marketing and customer relations along with leaders in the healthcare space.

Among them was the illustrious speaker Larry Hochman, a globally recognised name in customer service. According to Mr. Hochman, who has worked with British Airways and Air Miles, patients are rapidly evolving from passive recipients of treatment to active consumers who are evaluating their overall experience with a hospital on social media and creating a ‘word-of-mouth’ economy. He talks about this in the video below.

Play

As the video says, with social media and other public platforms being available today to share experiences, hospitals need to ensure that every customer walks away with a good experience.

The promise gap

In his address, Mr. Hochman also spoke at length about the ‘promise gap’ — the difference between what a company promises to deliver and what it actually delivers. In the video given below, he explains the concept in detail. As the gap grows wider, the potential for customer dissatisfaction increases.

Play

So how do hospitals differentiate themselves with this evolved set of customers? How do they ensure that the promise gap remains small? “You can create a unique value only through relationships, because that is something that is not manufactured. It is about people, it’s a human thing,” says Mr. Hochman in the video below.

Play

As Mr. Hochman and others in the discussion panel point out, the key to delivering a good customer experience is to instil a culture of empathy and hospitality across the organisation. Whether it is small things like smiling at patients, educating them at every step about their illness or listening to them to understand their fears, every action needs to be geared towards making the customer feel that they made the correct decision by getting treated at that hospital. This is also why, Dr. Nandkumar Jairam, Chairman and Group Medical Director, Columbia Asia, talked about the need for hospitals to train and hire people with soft skills and qualities such as empathy and the ability to listen.

Striking the balance

Bridging the promise gap also involves a balance between technology and the human touch. Dr. Robert Pearl, Executive Director and CEO of The Permanente Medical Group, who also spoke at the event, wrote about the example of Dr. Devi Shetty’s Narayana Health Hospitals. He writes that their team of surgeons typically performs about 900 procedures a month which is equivalent to what most U.S. university hospitals do in a year. The hospitals employ cutting edge technology and other simple innovations to improve efficiency and patient care.

The insights gained from Narayana’s model show that while technology increases efficiency of processes, what really makes a difference to customers are the human touch-points. As Mr. Hochman says, “Human touch points matter more because there are less and less of them today and are therefore crucial to the whole customer experience.”

Play

By putting customers at the core of their thinking, many hospitals have been able to apply innovative solutions to solve age old problems. For example, Max Healthcare, introduced paramedics on motorcycles to circumvent heavy traffic and respond faster to critical emergencies. While ambulances reach 30 minutes after a call, the motorcycles reach in just 17 minutes. In the first three months, two lives were saved because of this customer-centric innovation.

Hospitals are also looking at data and consumer research to identify consumer pain points. Rajit Mehta, the MD and CEO of Max Healthcare Institute, who was a panelist at the summit, spoke of the importance of data to understand patient needs. His organisation used consumer research to identify three critical areas that needed work - discharge and admission processes for IPD patients and wait-time for OPD patients. To improve wait-time, they incentivised people to book appointments online. They also installed digital kiosks where customers could punch in their details to get an appointment quickly.

These were just some of the insights on healthcare management gleaned from the Hospital Leadership Summit hosted by Abbott. In over 150 countries, Abbott 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.