First Impressions: What We Learned in India

This week’s guest blog is from Dr. Naveed Mohammad, VP Medical Affairs and Co-Lead of Osler’s Global Health Program

Earlier this year, I was fortunate to be part of a five-member clinical team that travelled to Punjab, India as part of Osler’s Global Health Program. During the 12 days we were on the ground, we were able to see how health care is delivered first hand.

The health care system in India is one of contrasts, where state-of-the-art, for-profit hospitals exist alongside charitable hospitals and access to care is largely based on what patients can afford. Amid this disparity we couldn’t deny the obvious common thread: regardless of where treatment was provided – be it in a high-tech hospital at the centre of a bustling city or a small clinic in a rural village – the patient is always at the heart of their care.

Families are part of the care team and from admission to discharge, they are always present to support the comfort needs of patients. Patient rooms are often equipped with a bed for the patient and a cot for a family member.  At Osler, we are already exploring ways we can enhance the patient experience through family presence initiatives.

Patient care is a family affair – Families are part of the care team and from admission to discharge, they are always present to support the comfort needs of patients. Patient rooms are often equipped with a bed for the patient and a cot for a family member. At Osler, we are already exploring ways we can enhance the patient experience through family presence initiatives.

Improving the patient experience - It’s natural for patients to have a lot of questions and concerns when navigating the health care system. All of the hospitals we visited in India had help desks to assist patients as they navigate the facility. At one hospital, once a patient sees a specialist, they had a patient counsellor who could provide further information about their care and answer follow-up questions.  We were inspired by this approach to care and came away with new ideas for how we can implement similar programs in some of our busiest departments. Osler is already setting the stage to launch our own patient concierge program in the ED.

Improving the patient experience – It’s natural for patients to have a lot of questions and concerns when navigating the health care system. All of the hospitals we visited in India had help desks to assist patients as they navigate the facility. At one hospital, once a patient sees a specialist, they had a patient counsellor who could provide further information about their care and answer follow-up questions. We were inspired by this approach to care and came away with new ideas for how we can implement similar programs in some of our busiest departments. Osler is already setting the stage to launch our own patient concierge program in the ED.

Revolving door approach to outpatient care -  Where do you go when you need a referral to a specialist? In Canada, our health care journey begins with our family physician. The weak primary care system in India has resulted in a stronger outpatient department (OPD) model, which also reduces the demand on their emergency department services.  Many of these interactions happen on an outpatient basis. Facilities are designed so patients can receive same-day care from a specialist and consult with multiple specialists providers under the same roof on the same day. This speedy approach to care virtually eliminates wait times that are so common in Canada.

Revolving door approach to outpatient care – Where do you go when you need a referral to a specialist? In Canada, our health care journey begins with our family physician. The weak primary care system in India has resulted in a stronger outpatient department (OPD) model, which also reduces the demand on their emergency department services. Many of these interactions happen on an outpatient basis. Facilities are designed so patients can receive same-day care from a specialist and consult with multiple specialists providers under the same roof on the same day. This speedy approach to care virtually eliminates wait times that are so common in Canada.

Mission accomplished

We travelled to India in search of partnership opportunities, and we found them. After a careful review Osler has chosen to work with two hospitals in the Ludhiana district where we will focus on service delivery, training/education and research, as well as a multi-national hospital chain on research.

  • Shaheed Kartar Singh Sarabha Ayurvedic Medical College & Hospital is a charitable hospital that serves a rural population while acting as a teaching centre for nursing students from 25 neighbouring villages. Partnering with this organization will enable us to assist with the development of health care infrastructure in this community through screening, education and outreach camps and sharing our best practices.
  • Dayanand Medical College & Hospital is a recognized health care leader in Punjab and tertiary care teaching hospital. Partnering with this organization will provide us with a unique opportunity to potentially support training in emergency medicine, critical care and psychiatry and to research the epidemiology of chronic disease in Punjab and within our local Central West region. There is also potential to provide continuity of care and share medical records for Osler patients travelling to this part of India.
  • Apollo Hospitals is an internationally accredited organization with over 50 hospitals across India. Partnering with this organization will provide us an opportunity to conduct research to understand various aspects of health and wellness, and disease progression and treatment for individuals of South Asian descent. There is also an opportunity to provide continuity of care and share medical records for Osler patients travelling to India.

Right now, we’re working to finalize Memorandums of Understanding with each hospital to define the specific initiatives Osler will support. A funding structure is also being developed with Osler Foundation to engage our community. Once these pieces are in place, the team will host a follow-up information session in the fall to provide details of our first official mission slated for early 2016 and how staff can apply.

These are exciting times at Osler and I look forward to the next phase of our Global Health Program!

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