By means of caveat at the beginning, the views expressed here are based on my own consulting experience across different parts of India, especially in the Eastern part. However, by and large, such views can have significant commonality across other parts of India as well. With a mere exception of 5% of the healthcare service providers, such views are applicable to most of the players. As a part of my consulting experience spanning over a decade and half, I have worked with many hospitals, nursing homes and found the following problems to be faced by them – most of them are operational, playing an important role in creating customer experience, and others are related to marketing and HR management.
1. Operations problems:
- Debility to manage the first & the last mile of operations – While mapping the waiting period of the patients and the patient party, it is obvious that the major waiting time happens during the admission process and the release of the patient. The reason is, in both the activities multiple functions are involved and there is lack of coordination among them. For example, during release process, Doctor in-charge, Metron, Medical Officer, Accounts, TPA desk and Insurance company are involved.
- Inconsistent patient experience – Lack of coordination among the various functions is the root cause here as well. Generally, due to profitability targets, the hospitals and nursing homes do not appoint sufficient number of stand-by- supports and as a result, absenteeism management is done poorly. Patients suffer if somebody in the nursing team is absent, or cleaning & housekeeping department is absent.
- OPD management – OPD or Out-patient department is another area to show how the nursing home or hospital is managing its operational challenges. OPDis not only about the physicians, but the support staff, managing the appointments, carrying out pre-treatment and post treatment procedures and following up with the patients, etc. Having the right staff in place can enable better patient flow and experience for both the doctors as well as the patient party.
2. Marketing problems:
- Having the right patient mix – The hospitals often do not have a proper patient mix in mind. The patient mix means the proportion of corporate vs. individual, insured vs. un-insured, local vs. out-station patients. Having these ratios are important so that the marketing efforts can be planned accordingly.
- Managing Corporate clients – The Sales & Marketing people should come up with specific campaigns for the corporate patients. The medical officers of the corporates and the HR/Admin teams should be mapped and regular visits and talks are also needed to be organized.
- Digital marketing & social media campaigns – This is the most important aspect of marketing. However, most of the hospitals and nursing homes often miss the campaigning opportunities.
3. HR problems:
- Absence of Balanced Scorecard – The smaller hospitals and nursing homes lack an encompassing engagement tool such as Balanced Scorecard (BSC). Without a properly implemented BSC, the employees are not aware of what is expected of them and stops taking pro-active actions.
- Lack of motivation for employees – Most of the hospitals lack good performance measurement and reward system as many of them are hired as temp, i.e. on temporary or probation basis.
- High attrition – Attrition at the staff level (non-doctors, including the nurses) is a major pain point for the hospitals. This is lethal as the staff members have more touch points with the patients and frequent changes impact the patient/ consumer experience as well.
Finding solution to these problems is not difficult, but requires the right intentions, knowledge and perseverance. With more adoption of technology and skills, the Healthcare sector in India can solve these problems. But “When” is an important question. We hope it will be soon.