maternal health

19 million women in India have given birth to seven or more children

The average births per woman decline with increase in education levels.

As many as 19 million women in India have given birth to seven or more children, and 15 million (80%) of these women live in rural areas, according to an IndiaSpend analysis of recently released census data.

This is equivalent to Niger’s population, a country in Africa having a fertility rate of 6.76. The countries having the highest fertility rates in the world are mostly situated in Africa.

There were fewer such women with higher levels of education, the data further reveal – 15 million of those women were illiterate as against 0.09 million who were graduates and above.

Source: Census of India, 2011
Source: Census of India, 2011
 Source: Census of India, 2011
Source: Census of India, 2011

Educated women have fewer births, average births per woman declined since 2001

The average births per woman in India is 3.3, a decline of 13% from 3.8 in 2001, based on the total births given by women in the 45-49 years age group (which marks the end of their child-bearing age), according to World Health Organization.

The Central Intelligence Agency estimates India’s average fertility per woman at 2.48 which is the highest among BRICS nations and just better than Pakistan in the sub-continent.

Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have lower fertility rates.

Though the CIA data differs from the Census, trends indicate that Indian women have higher fertility rates than sub-continent countries and other similar economies.

The average births decline with increase in education levels, according to Census data. The average births for women who are graduates and above is 1.9, against 3.8 for women who are illiterate.

The spread of female education is a likely cause for falling fertility among women, according to this report by The Economist. Female literacy in India increased from 53.7% in 2001 to 64.6% in 2011, according to Census data.

As many as 1,423 females in rural areas have never attended any educational institution for every 1,000 males who have not done so, and only 577 females attend college for every 1,000 males in rural areas, IndiaSpend reported earlier.

Source: Census of India, 2011
Source: Census of India, 2011

Note: The average child-bearing age for a woman is 15-49 years, according to the World Health Organization. Therefore, we have taken 45-49 years as the sample set for determining the average children per woman.

320,000 girls below age 15 have already reported two births

As many as 0.32 million girls who are married and aged less than 15 years have given birth to two children – an increase of 88% since 2001, when the figure was 0.17 million.

Further, 0.28 million married girls in the age group of 15-19 years have already given birth to four children, which is an increase of 65% from 0.17 million in 2001.

Adolescent pregnancy can lead to several health problems – anaemia, malaria, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, postpartum haemorrhage and mental disorders – according to World Health Organization.

Nearly 12.7 million girls in India aged between 10-19 years are married and six million children were born to them, IndiaSpend reported earlier.

Notes:

  • “All ages” includes “age not stated”.
  • “Literate” includes figures for “literates without educational level” and “educational levels not classifiable”.
  • “Ever married women” includes currently married, widowed, divorced and separated. 
  • “Matric/ secondary but below graduate” includes “non-technical diploma and certificate not equal to degree”.  
  • Due to the above caveats, there may be some overlaps in the data. Hence, adding sub-headings cumulatively may not equal the overall figure.  

This article first appeared on Indiaspend, a data-driven and public-interest journalism non-profit.

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