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The Daily Fix: Prime Minister Narendra Modi must honour the dignity of his office

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

The Big Story: Half apology

During the acrimonious Gujarat election campaign early this month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the popular phrase “all is fair in love and war” to its absolute extreme. To win the war of elections in his home State, the prime minister changed course from his “development agenda” to a highly divisive electioneering in the final few days.

The worst of his attempts was to try and give political colour to a dinner that took place in former Union Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar’s house. The dinner in honour of visiting former Pakistan external affairs minister who happens to be an old friend of Aiyar, and was in Delhi to promote his book. The dinner was also attended by Pakistan’s envoy to India and several high-profile politicians and former diplomats from India who have dealt with Pakistan, including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former Vice President Hamid Ansari and former Army Chief Deepak Kapoor.

But during his election rally, the prime minister made it seem as if these leaders had congregated at Aiyar’s house to devise a grand conspiracy. “The meeting had run for three hours and the next day he called me ‘Neech’,” Modi remarked, referring to a comment made by Aiyar. The campaign also saw the BJP alleging interference from Pakistan in the poll process and attempts to make Congress leader Ahmed Patel the chief minister of the state.

In essence, Modi was accusing a former prime minister, a former vice president and a former army chief of treason. Though Manmohan Singh immediately clarified on the meeting and said Gujarat was not even mentioned, neither Modi nor BJP chose to apologise. The party remained adamant and sought to milk whatever benefit was possible from the allegations.

However, the impasse in Parliament over the last few days, with the Congress demanding an apology and stalling the House, forced the BJP to backtrack. Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday said the prime minister in his speeches did not question, nor had meant to question, the commitment to this nation of either Manmohan Singh or Hamid Ansari. “Any such perception is erroneous, we hold these leaders in high esteem, as well as their commitment to India,” he added.

That the BJP chose to leave the issue burning all through the Gujarat campaign showed it was a purely political strategy to discredit the Congress and divide the electorate on religious lines. The invocation of the bogey of Pakistan during the election campaign was a clear attempt to play to the insecurities of Gujarat’s Hindus. The BJP employed the same strategy in the 2015 Bihar elections, when its president Amit Shah infamously said crackers would be burst in Pakistan if the Congress alliance won.

Making such extraordinary claims and half-truths that involve character assassination is unbecoming of the office of the prime minister. Worse, even on Wednesday, Modi chose to let Jaitley make the reluctant apology instead of doing it himself. A delayed apology might ease tensions, but the prime minister should realise that such ill-conceived statements for the sake of electoral advantage will only erode his authority in the eyes of the people and diminish trust in statements he makes in the future.

The Big Scroll

  • By accusing Manmohan Singh of an anti-national act, Modi has redefined the Opposition as the enemy.  


  •   The proposed Bill criminalising instant talaq has no legal basis, and is riddled with contradictions, argues Faizur Rahman in The Hindu. 
  • For both Pakistan and India, Kulbhushan Jadhav has become a pawn in a high-stakes game, says Nirupama Subramanian in Indian Express. 
  •   While one can doubt the positives of voting with the US, none would have questioned the wisdom of abstention, states Abhijit Iyer-Mitra in the Mint on India’s decision to vote against the move to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital. 


Don’t miss

Himachal paradox in eight charts: Women outvote men – but only four were elected to the Assembly.

“The Congress and BJP mainly determine who gets to be represented in the Assembly. Since 1967, only 201 women have contested state elections in Himachal, with 88 on Congress or BJP tickets. Only 38 got elected (out of 807 MLAs), with 35 on either Congress or BJP tickets. One MLA, Shyama Sharma, was elected three times on a Janata Party ticket, in Nahan, in the 1970s.” 

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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 marketing team and not by the editorial staff.