International News

US: H-1B visa applications drop for the first time in five years

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services received 1.99 lakh petitions as against the 2.36 lakh received in 2016.

The number of applications for H-1B work visas has declined in the United States for the first time in five years, reported CNN. This comes at a time when US President Donald Trump has been railing against the visa policy and how it allegedly replaces American workers with foreign labour.

On Tuesday, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services said it had received 1.99 lakh H-1B petitions for 2018 within five days of opening the visa applications on April 3. The last time it fell below 2 lakh was in 2014, though even in that year, the number of applications grew from 2013. In 2016, the USCIS had received 236,000 applications. The number of applications received for the H-1B visas had been increasing since 2013.

“On April 11, USCIS used a computer-generated random selection process, or lottery, to select enough petitions to meet the 65,000 general-category cap and the 20,000 cap under the advanced degree exemption,” the USCIS said in a statement on April 17.

In March, the US had suspended the premium processing option for H-1B visas, which allowed companies to bring in highly skilled workers in a few weeks, rather than several months, if they paid an additional amount. A large number of technology companies, among other industries, relied on premium processing to bring in skilled engineers to the US.

Trump had promised his voters that he would overhaul the H-1B visa system to provide more jobs to Americans, whom he said were losing employment opportunities to “foreigners”. His stance poses particular problems for India, which sends the maximum H-1B workers to the US. The Indian government has been attempting to lobby with the White House to reconsider its efforts to tighten H-1B rules.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.