Is there a tradeoff between making hospital operations efficient and improving the patient experience? And what are some of the areas where hospitals are seeing maximum adoption in patient-centric technologies? How do hospital operations leaders justify the ROI of new technology? The podcast answers questions like these with three highly respected names in Indian healthcare. 

Duration: 47min
Published Date: 2 Dec 2021

Mr. Bharat Gera (Strategic Advisor, BestDoc)

Mr. Saji Mathew (Chief Operating Officer, Baby Memorial Hospital)
Dr. Sameer Kodkani (General Manager – Healthcare, Dr L H Hiranandani Hospital)

Midhun Subramanian (Head of Marketing, BestDoc)

How Technology Can Help Improve the Efficiency of Hospital Operations


Midhun Subramanian: All right, I think we can begin. We have a few more folks coming in but let’s start. So good morning, good afternoon or good evening wherever you may be to the first-ever session in the series, focusing on the patient experience at hospitals, organized by BestDoc. 

Today, we have a heavyweight set of panelists with an aggregate experience of more than 75 years across hospital operations management as well as leadership. I’m sure we need no introduction to the folks I will be mentioning, but I’ll keep it short. 

So, first, Mr. Saji Mathew. He is the Chief Operating Officer at Baby Memorial Hospital Kozhikode, one of the largest as well as the most reputed private hospitals in Kerala. Mr. Mathew has been a key agent of transformation, not just at BMH but also the leading voice of digital rather technological transformation across the Indian health care sector. 

Next is Dr. Sameer Kodkani. He is the General Manager, healthcare at Dr. L H Hiranandani Hospital in Mumbai. And he has been the proponent of many digital strategies leading to the hospital becoming one of the most respected establishments in India for its patient-centricity and excellence. 

And as host, we have Bharat Gera, he’s a strategic advisor at BestDoc and a pioneer in the digital transformation of healthcare. Bharat has worked with hospitals across India, including most recently at Saint John’s National Academy Health Sciences in Bangalore and has designed and implemented multiple projects for digital health care globally.

So welcome all of you gentlemen and over to you Bharat.

Bharat Gera: Thank you Midhun for the warm introduction and welcome Saji, my dear friend and Dr. Sameer.

Let’s start the discussion with an overview of the topic. When we say how technology can improve the experience and the operational efficiency the question that often comes to mind is that are we going to have a trade-off between what it takes to achieve operational efficiency and delivering a great patient experience?

You know a few times people talk about like if you’re going to have let’s say the radiology and if you want the maximum machine utilization for your MRI or CT machine you’re going to result in people having long waiting times. Is that really true or can we look at a world where operational efficiency actually improves patient experience?

I would like to start with Mr. Saji Mathew with his experience in Baby Memorial and give us an overview of what he thinks about it. Saji over to you. 

Saji Mathew: Good morning everyone, thank you for having me on the panel. Just to address that question, Bharat, giving a good experience, a delightful experience doesn’t mean that we are compromising on the optimization or optimal utilization of the resources that we have. We can provide a better experience for the customers by leveraging technology and also at the same time optimally utilizing our resources. 

Quoting your example of making the patient wait for an MRI, CT or giving them a time slot may be at our time, but how we can give a better experience to them. Say for example if they wanted to look for an MRI CT we can give a better experience. The moment they book tell them exactly what. People hate waiting but if there is a certainty or an assurance from the providers saying that when they can be seen. There could be situations where we may have to take in emergency cases but if you give them the certainty that will be.

People hate the uncertainty part of it so how do we bring certainty in delivering services to customers so that is where we can leverage technology so they booked for a CT scan at 12 pm tell them okay if you have an emergency beforehand tell them, sorry there is going to be a delay of 30 minutes if you can wait for that one or if you can engage in something or wait for that 30 minutes beforehand if we inform them they’ll be happy and it will be acceptable to them but if they reach there on time and then tell them you please wait there for 30 more minutes or indefinitely wait, that people hate. So it’s not compromising on the optimal utilization because I’m on the operational side of the hospital.

Of course, we will be looking at operational efficiency in terms of optimal utilization of all the resources that we have and also efficiently utilizing the resources so efficiently in all the processes that we have. We look at optimizing our service excellence but that doesn’t mean that we are compromising on experience or the way we engage our patients. So we want the patients may be have certainty if at all this is going to be like some delay we warn and also once they are here a good turnaround time

Bharat Gera: So I think you made very very important points about creating an expectation that can be met and that is what it takes to keep the patient experience in control while you are doing the operational efficiency. Of course, we have seen that several times you can actually optimize the patient experience and the operational efficiency at the same time. 

You know if you are able to choose the right patients to come to the machine at the right time and you sequence them in the right order you actually achieve both. I’d like to hear Dr. Sameer’s view also on this at a very high level first, what it takes to combine both operational efficiency and patient experience? 

Sameer Kodkani: Good morning to my fellow panelist, and also to BestDoc, and Mr. Bharat Gera. Thank you for having me here. 

As far as the technology, the use of technology and the operational efficiency because of the use of technology and the patient experience is concerned both go hand in hand as far as what I have experienced during my career.

The patient experience is like, for example, if the patient opts to go for any diagnostics or for admissions or for a consultation to a doctor, the patient is mentally prepared for the waiting time or for the process or the formalities to be completed before actually what the patient seeks to go to the hospital.

So, this mental preparation is already there. The only thing I have experienced is that the communication is the most important factor as far as patient experience is concerned. If we communicate properly, if we give them a prior idea of what would be the waiting time, what would be the formality that has to be completed before actual consultation or admission of a patient, then there won’t be any bad experience or patient’s dissatisfaction. So, that is one part.

Second, with operational efficiency, with the help of technology, we are enhancing or reducing the TAT, the waiting time. So, it always helps and it will never basically compromise on the patient experience as such. The use of technology will always help in reducing the TAT in increasing the efficiency of any process where the technology comes into play. So, what I feel is, both go hand in hand. The most important part is communication. Even technology plays a very important role in communicating to the patient or like a sort of display on the screen.

So, these are the things that definitely will help the patient to get to know.

Bharat Gera: You are absolutely right. What we’ve seen in BestDoc’s experience is for example with no shows that creates a problem from the efficiency point of view. But, when we send them IVR reminders or we call them up and confirm to know whether they’re coming or not, we’re able to reduce the no shows from 30% to 10% in many cases. 

Sameer Kodkani: Absolutely. 

Bharat Gera: It improves the efficiency and improves the patient experience at the same time. I know we have several aspects of the patient journey to consider. So, I want to try and break this up into the entire patient journey like you know Mr. Saji has spoken about earlier and Dr. Sameer had also spoken about earlier.

Can we speak about right from the point of discovery to the point of completion of the episode in an outpatient journey, where does technology come in? What are the kinds of interventions that happen to make the experience better and improve efficiency at the same time? 

So, we’ll go with Dr. Sameer first. Dr. Sameer, do you want to talk about the outpatient journey right from the discovery to the completion of the consultation experience?

Sameer Kodkani: Yeah. I would like to place it from the patient’s perspective so it will be very easy for the viewers also to understand. In the sense that what would the patient wish to have when he opts to go to the hospital? When he opts to go to a hospital, it is only the doctor’s consultation that he wishes to have, what are the other things which are around this? 

Say, for example, let us not go into specifics, let us go into a little more of a generic where a patient wishes to get treated or get treated for any of the ailment. That is the only thing that the patient requires if the patient wants to go to the hospital. So, what goes in and around this are formalities which are required as far as admission is concerned, formalities which are required as far as booking of an appointment is concerned, formalities which are required as far as registration of a patient is concerned. So these are the things — paperwork or on digital platforms — these are the things which take the patient towards the treatment or the patient with who actually wishes for the treatment to avail. So apart from that, all the other things which are around is just a supportive sort of a thing to get this entire journey of the patient right from entering the hospital to leaving the hospital is concerned. 

As far as IP is concerned, in every aspect technology can play a role in every aspect. For example, if the patient wishes to have an ailment and nearby hospital is DR. LH Hiranandani Hospital. So, he goes to the website and from the website, the patient can do a booking with this technology. The patient can basically pay prior to the consultation, the patient can get the registration number or the unique code with the help of technology. These are a few examples of the patient, as rightly said, by Mr. Bharat that if there is no show when some patient opts for not going, even then the technology comes into play.

So there are various aspects which in previous years where there were manual interventions that can be replaced by technology. Every function of the hospital and even in clinical which is the core which is what the patient wishes to have there the technology can play a very important role even into the clinical aspect.

Bharat Gera: Absolutely, yeah, I think you spoke very well about the digital front door as we call it.

Saji, do you want to elaborate on the importance of the digital front door? Because what I’ve noticed is that the percentage of patients coming in as walk-ins reduces over a period of time when your digital one front door works well. So, when you have you know 60 to 70 % walk-ins or 80% walk-ins with the efficient digital front door that you know drops down to 30%-40% of the patients coming in. That is inefficiency by a great order because you don’t know who’s coming, you know which patient is coming, how many patients are coming. You need to allocate the time of all the resources to handle that workload. You’re much better prepared on what you need to do.

So, Saji, you want to talk about how in Baby Memorial I know during the COVID times you’ve done some fantastic work and before that also you’ve done some great work on this. Do you want to talk about how you handle that entire digital front door experience?

Saji Mathew: Yes. There are two aspects to it. 1. As you rightly said from a hospital’s efficient working angle in any organization, we have limited resources. So, from a patient journey perspective and we take it, okay the patients are coming either through an appointment or through walk-in. Then they come to the counter, take a token and make the payment and go to doctors or do the consultation and then come into investigation areas for investigation. Then they go back to the doctor for a review of the lab and the investigation reports. Then in most cases end up with the pharmacy prescription and go to the pharmacy.

If you look at the crowd, there is a convergence and divergence and operationally will create a bottleneck factor at some of the touch points. How do we address this one? Again it’s by optimal utilization of the resources, in terms of demand and the supply side we need to kind of equate.

When we talk about the walk-in, we do not know when the patients are going to come. In our case typically if you look at from 11 to 1 o’ clock the number of crowds, in terms of the distribution of the crowd, if you say from 11 to 1 o’clock we need to have that many resources if you want to maintain a certain turnaround time at each of the touchpoints. You need to maintain that many people in each of these touch points to provide and maintain the turnaround time, that’s one option.

How many people are going to come to your facility today, at what point in time they are going to come — you need to keep all these resources ready to meet the demand. That’s one side of the story that is the walk-in case. But if you have a system wherein you can give appointments like in the western countries you know exactly when they are going to come and you can better distribute this load into eight hours of your working. And there you optimally utilize the resources and also you will be able to maintain the turnaround time.

In our example, before we started with BestDoc we had around 40 percent of the daily op consultation was through appointments while the remaining 60 was mostly walk-in. After 2.5 years of using the BestDoc system for appointments through various channels, now we have around close to 70 percentage is appointments and 30 percentage is walk-ins. So, we were able to reverse that proportion and we are able to better utilize our resources and also the crowd at that peak time we are able to better manage.

What we have done is the two shifts, most of the days we need to work in two shifts. So people work from, I mean the hospital staff, from 7 o’clock they come they will cover until 2 o’clock or 3 o’clock. Then the other team takes over from 11 to that extent. So, we arrange the resources also such that we have a maximum number of resources from 11 to like 2 or 3 o’clock. And at the tail end, we have allocated a number of resources so that way we are able to through scheduling as well as manage the resources. 

This way we are able to provide or we are at least able to keep the turnaround time to an acceptable level. Otherwise, you will struggle with the turnaround time. That’s one part of how we leverage technology. We need to leverage technology in terms of engaging the customer as well as you need to have the technology to look at the operational matrices or trends over a period of time. You need to have various dashboards and data to analyze and understand the trend. The data helps you to understand the trend and from there you are able to arrange operationally the supply side of it. The demand side — you need to first understand the demand side then you can adjust the supply side. Leveraging on the data and creating avenues or the channels for the patients to engage in or through scheduling, that is the scheduling aspect.

During the Covid time, we wanted to provide them with a no-touch kind of experience. One option is okay obviously you can do a video consultation from home and especially with the senior citizens they don’t feel comfortable they want to have that regular hospital visits. But, we wanted to reduce the number of touchpoints, so we introduced things like making an appointment online through various channels. 

Either you call the call centre or we are now using Whatsapp to message us to a number and there is an AI-powered chatbot that will take care of most of the conversation. Or they choose if they want to chat with an agent, that agent option is there, so the agent will engage with them. Otherwise, 80% of the conversation is taken care of by the chatbot. They make the appointment at their convenient time, then they make the payment online. The day they come here, once they are here so we send a reminder SMS using the link there they can do the check-in, so they don’t need to go to any of the other touchpoints, right from fixing an appointment making a payment getting it for allocated and doing the check in, and straight away they go to the doctor.

While waiting for a doctor, they can fill up this questionnaire. In the initial days, it was mostly related to Covid as the doctor wants to quickly assess whether he is coming from a hot spot or having any other symptoms of the Covid before they see the doctor. That also they fill up so when they meet the doctor, this questionnaire is already completed and it is available to the doctor at the desktop and the doctor is able to provide a consultation and they can upload while waiting they can upload any other purpose because we wanted to reduce also on the paper, I mean exchange of papers or documents. They upload any other documents they have and everything’s made available to the doctor. The doctor is able to provide the consultation where they want it, so it’s the entire journey right from doctor discovery to medicine dispensing and follow up.

Post to Covid also, in the case of Covid and some other cases we even have a homecare platform that takes care of the post-discharge engagement with the patient. So, we leverage technology greatly that helps us to achieve operational efficiency and thereby provide a better experience also to the patients by using various digital technologies. And we found out, over a period, we find out WhatsApp and similar kinds of chats even the patients can be easily engaged even with the senior citizens they’re almost using a Whatsapp or Telegram that kind of a messaging platform. 

Bharat Gera: I know, wonderful technology approaches that you have used to make the patient experience better and what I see is that it’s like a well-oiled machinery where at the surface is the patient experience but below all the layers are like orchestrated to work together. That is fantastic and it makes the whole process efficient and at the same time you know delivers a fantastic patient experience. 

Dr. Sameer, do you want to speak about some of the kiosks, the use of kiosks in the hospital, how it makes that efficiency improve because you can’t always have so many people like Saji was saying you know when you have a big crowd coming in and between 9 and 11. You cannot have so many front office staff. Right, so I know you’ve been using kiosks very effectively and I’m sure using many other things, so please go ahead and speak a little bit about that as well.

Sameer Kodkani: Yeah. kiosk I will certainly come to, but before that, I would like to highlight the very important aspect of patient appointment booking. Initially, before having an association with BestDoc, we had appointment booking through a call centre so the major pain area as far as patients experience is concerned was that the patient had to wait for long for the call center officials to get connected. So, the waiting time over there was the biggest problem, so we basically after our association with BestDoc gave an alternative to the patient an easy alternative of booking an appointment online. So that was one of the alternatives because of which the patient experience really was better. 

Now after booking an appointment, the patient comes into the hospital. As rightly said, there are certain days like for example we in our hospital have Saturday or Monday where there are a lot of patient crowds. Saturdays obviously because most of the corporates which are in and around this area are having weekly off so they prefer Saturdays. And Monday is because of the backlog of Sunday being the off day. So those are the two days where we have a lot of crowds.

And as rightly pointed out, the kiosk has certainly helped us in basically diverting the crowd for the formality, which the patient has to carry out at the counter physically then the kiosk carries out the same function. And even now we are basically going ahead with the payment mode, which is also part of the kiosk where the patient can pay for their bills prior to consultation. Whatever the payment has to be done can be done with the help of the kiosk. It’s not only restricted to booking an appointment or registration.

Bharat Gera: Yeah, the technology is scalable. What I look at it’s the way to go forward is that all the people who were not doing patient-facing work or not you know they can become more knowledge workers. So instead of them doing the machine’s work, they can do the job of making the patient comfortable, they can explain procedures to the patient, they can guide them, they can be their help, they can be navigators to the care. If the humans take care of the human part and the machine takes care of other formalities that really improves everything.

Now coming to the inpatient journey, I’ve seen that hospitals have been woken up by this whole movement of Pristyn Care, which has opened this digital front door for surgeries. We see it on the television and we talk about many venture capitalists talking about it. And, I want to hear your views on how the inpatient care, right from the time of discovery and doing that insurance procedure, getting the approvals and all those processes. And making sure that the check-in is done properly as they come to the room, they’re settled down properly in the room. I want to hear from you Dr. Sameer how are you using technology and what more can be done in that to improve the patient experience?

Sameer Kodkani: Yeah, as I had mentioned earlier that technology can play a vital role in all aspects right from the discovery. For example, the patient opts for getting operated on or is being referred from a doctor outside, then the patient directly approaches the admission counter. The other option is where the doctor from the hospital recommends for an admission. So these are the two areas. And the third option is the accident and emergency which is the emergency area from where the patient comes for admission. So these are the three areas out of which the one area where the patient has been recommended for elective admission can get the formalities done while the patient is trapped. This is just an imagination, we have not used this in our hospital yet but it has been suggested even to BestDoc that we can get the prior formalities before admission while the patient is either travelling or will be travelling. When there is a confirmed admission, all these formalities can be carried out and the time utilized or wasted so to say by the patient while travelling to the hospital all in the morning can be done for registrations and even paying a deposit prior to admission. So these formalities can be carried out and the patient who comes there gives a sort of a token number which is the identifier. The staff on the counter will just enter the token number and all the formalities which the patient has already fed during the transit reflects and the admission time is in within seconds or in within minutes.  

Bharat Gera: I think with customers like you we really learn a lot about what you foresee can be done in the future and what is the target and the goals like you’re speaking about that they should be able to do the admission within five minutes of arrival. I believe right now it takes much longer and doing the necessary suggestions that you’ve made will go a long way in solving that problem. I think that’s fantastic. 

We’ll come to a little bit more about the inpatient experience. Let’s also go to Saji and ask him about the digital front door for the in-patient experience. Saji, what are your thoughts on that?

Saji Mathew: Yeah, some of the things that we already started doing, some are already implemented for more than a year and some others that we are still exploring.  Things like when the patient comes, they need an estimate on part of the financial counselling or on the admission process. We have created a tool and also that is available through Kiosks for which I mean that is basically to bring in trust or transparency in the way we bill the patients. And that is also a part of the Clinical Establishment Act, that we need to display things.

And, of course, when it comes to surgery, either it has to be a bundled package or it has to be like we need to estimate, certain things only we need to estimate it. So, we select the type of surgery, and the length of stay and the use of equipment, so with the help of the front admission staff, we can do an estimate in front of the customer. And we have a queue management system, in terms of understanding, they can take a token, wait and turnaround time, counselling and also we have a digital front door.

We have created a 360-degree view of the various rooms available. So, at the time of the counselling itself, they can show without taking them to the actual room, what are the facilities and how the rooms need to be used. So, it’s kind of a 360-degree video of the facilities being given to them and that’s part of the acquisition process. And also the money collection,  in terms, of the payment collection either through we have used BestDoc handheld devices that is in terms of during the admission and also while they are getting admitted or taking treatment, any time they can top up their money rather than bringing currency or anything to some counter. The security there, they can use various electronic payment options to top up or make an advance payment or even to settle the bill at the end from the comfort of their home.

While they are taking treatment in the hospitals, now what we are exploring is using wearable devices where the wearable comes as an identifier plus all the vitals can be monitored using the wearable devices. There is a nurse call button and there is a panic button or a nurse call button and also a fall detector. So, it has a multi-faceted use for this wearable, so in terms of tracking the patient when the hospital it’s an identifier and also you can measure the vitals. And also the nurse calling system is wi-fi enabled, so it’s within the hospital premises all this works seamlessly and the nurses on their monitors they can see. And also an early warning score also is created. So the number of the Code Blue or RRT can also be reduced by using this one. So it’s an early warning because from your vitals you can derive an early warning of somebody falling, like getting a heart disease or an attack. So, your Code Blue and RRT can also be reduced.

So that is all the while being admitted in the hospital, so that is what we are exploring and we are working with the technology partner using their wearable devices to do so. And some of the wearables now even come with the Amazon Alexa for example a high-end Fitbit is equipped with Amazon Alexa. You can even go to the text in that one, just use your voice-enabled, you can all your services can also be rather than they pressing your button and then nurse going to the room and asking for it, just use the wearable or the Alexa to communicate what they want and it can be automatically routed whether it is for an F&B request or some other request that can also be communicated bi-directionally through an Alexa if you equip the wearable with an Alexa also that’s the possibility.

And we use a leverage conversational AI bot for post-discharge engagement of the patients especially after an angiogram. So, we navigate them post angioplasty 15 days or 30 days of the review period. We are engaging them in terms of medicine reminders, in terms of reminding them of the exercise regime, and the compliance checking on those parts. And also we share videos and act on a day-to-day basis as they progress. And they can also communicate back to the care team, their recovery progress in terms of getting the vitals and other things. And in case of an emergency, they just press the panic button and the emergency team will be able to communicate and arrange for if they need to be transported back to the hospital.

So we can leverage technology in terms of discovery for a service, in terms of IP admission while giving them admission, while admitted in the hospital. I’m not talking about the clinical, it’s all of the operational aspects I am talking about and also engaging them post-discharge.

Bharat Gera: Fantastic I think you really covered the whole continuum of care being addressed through technology. I have one observation and in the intro, I had said you know that when can we in hospitals aspire and reach that level which when airlines can deliver as an experience, or an Apple store delivers as an experience, or you know a very high-end hotel delivers an experience.

And what I’ve observed is that you know in hospitals you have you know 60-70 teams. I think it’s documented that you have, you know, compared to an airline you have like at least 25-30 more teams operating in a hospital than they operate in an airline and in a hotel it’s you know even lesser. So the fact that it becomes a challenge is because you have to make so many systems work in sync. And I think at BestDoc we try our best that whatever we build, it works well with your legacy systems. 

I want to just ask you to spend a minute and talk about what are the challenges that you face. We’ve talked about these things that can be done and these are technology things that can work. But what doesn’t work and where do you face the challenges in making this happen? Saji, you want to go first on that.

Saji Mathew: Yeah the challenges as you said is I mean integrating with the multiple systems. And if you traditionally look at most of the HIS that is more of an ERP where you do data entry you do billing those kinds of and collect the data you bring the reports and the receipts all those kinds of analytics attached to that one. So that is more to data entry and ERP kind of thing. 

What most of the systems are lacking is a workflow engine, that is automatically navigating when the entire, as we talk, about the patient journey or workflows that need to be automated. That is one of the challenges we face because of the use case of the discharge process. If you take the discharge process, most of us struggle with the discharge process where there are multiple stakeholders involved. The admitting physician declares that the patient can be discharged, and the patients are very anxious to leave the moment they are told that they can go home. From that moment it starts. Then we need to look at or we need to prepare a discharge summary or a treatment summary, which need to be reviewed and vetted by the doctor who may be in the theatre or elsewhere and need to be signed by him.

And, if there are medicines, which are drawn from this pharmacy, which need to be returned back. You need to prepare a bill. And in the case of insurance patients, the process is the worst, because you need to send the whole document and the bill to the insurance or TPA and you get the confirmation or the authorization from them, then only the patient can eventually leave. And you need to arrange the ambulance or the transport and the patient after knowing the bill they need to arrange for the money if they haven’t paid in full.

So, a lot of people are involved, including the external parties like the patient and the insurance company. What we have done is we developed a discharge tracker. So, we identified the various touchpoints in that and the people involved in it. What we do is we update with an expected date of discharge. 

So, we list all the patients with an expected list of discharges and that’s event-driven. The moment a doctor marks an event with the expected date of discharge, the doctors or the ward secretaries involved can start preparing the draft and discharge summary. The moment the draft and discharge summary is prepared the doctors are alert, draft and discharge is there you could, please review. The moment a doctor or nurse wants to pre-discharge, then immediately an alarm goes to the pharmacy. 

Bharat Gera: Fantastic, BestDoc will soon come up with an offering, which will address this in a neat way and we will soon share that with you. We are going to work with select customers like you to start with that in that area and Dr Sameer that as well.

Dr. Sameer, we have only five minutes left. I want you to just quickly say something that you feel are the challenges that you face about making technology successful and improving operational efficiency and the patient experience.

Sameer Kodkani: The challenges are at multiple levels, and we with the help of technology are able to basically reduce down the, or the intensity of the challenges have reduced significantly.

Like, for example, as I mentioned the call waiting time, so there was an alternative to online booking, which basically helped us. As far as waiting time is concerned, during the admission, there is also a big challenge when the patient is opting for the desired class and that class of admission is or that class is not available in the hospital.

There are other formalities like TPA related formalities where patients have N number of queries, which the patient asks at the time of admission and at the time of discharge while filling the feedback form. He basically considers that also as a waiting time for admission and at a higher time he basically takes on the feedback form, so that is one challenge.

Second is operation theatre where there are multiple stakeholders involved, right from the patient being selected for a surgery and what are the prior formalities to be done — the operation formalities — and then the post-op formalities. So, all these three have to be basically in sync with each other, the dots have to be connected and there yes technology helps us in connecting the dots. And as Mr Saji has already highlighted the discharge where we have in our hospital discharge coordinators, so those are basically at present manual not technology-driven but they are the ones who are connecting the dots between the stakeholders. And we are trying to basically reduce the TAT of both self-paying and TPA patients.

Bharat Gera: Fantastic, I think we’ve learned a lot in this process. My only take is that what I believe very strongly and what works when BestDoc works for this class is that we always look at how what we’re doing is going to impact patient outcomes. And then as a result of that, we look at what needs to be done to improve the hospital’s workflows and the turnaround times because that is what results in a greater better patient outcome, and we learn a lot from you all. And thank you for being on this panel with us Dr. Sameer and Saji Mathew, it was a great experience having this discussion.

Midhun I think we are a little bit over time but please go ahead with the other parts and if you want to ask some questions.

Midhun Subramanian: Yeah, so I’m just collecting the questions from the attendees. So there are a couple of questions I will probably want to club both of them and ask the panelists. So one of the questions was, how can operation leaders show the ROI for long-term technology investments? And the other question that would be related to this is how do you choose which area to pick in the transformation journey from a digital perspective?

Bharat Gera: Both are related. I think. I will let Dr. Sameer start with his views on it and then Mr. Saji came up with his points.

Sameer Kodkani: Yeah, I would take the second first where I will be able to address even the first. 

The areas to choose are basically on the basis of a lot of parameters and those parameters are on the basis of the patient experience. And also, we have certain tasks or quality objectives or quality parameters, which we have set for these challenge areas and these quality parameters have certain targets to be achieved. So, we basically look at this and evaluate this on a monthly basis at different stakeholder levels. Say for example if I have a front office as a department then I have the waiting time of the patient at the time of admission as one of the quality parameters. There my target is that it has to be completed within 20 minutes or say 15 minutes. So that is one where all these parameters are assessed and where the technology has to be prioritized or used or plugged in is decided on the basis of the challenge area or the unsolved area as far as these parameters are concerned. So that is the only way by which we can prioritize or pinpoint at which area has to be looked at first. So, we have certain parameters on the basis of which we decide.

So, the ROI is again related to the same. For example, at each level, we have to see how we address the challenge and then decide on the technology intervention or the introduction as such.

Bharat Gera: Perfect. Saji you want to go about this and talk about it.

Saji Mathew: Yeah, on the ROI part I will start with the ROI part. You don’t have to worry much on the ROI these days because most of these solutions are available on a SaaS model. Straight away, you look at what the savings are from almost all these implementations. I could show the proof to the management that the number of employees involved in each of these areas. For example, Sameer was saying they have a discharge coordinator, so look at the number of discharges by employing such technology. What is the reduction in the number, even just by looking at the number itself you will be able to justify the technology.

And you are not paying on a CapEx model. Most of these solutions are now available on an OpEx model. You just strike it off both sides so you will be able to see that one maybe you will be saving in terms of there will be more savings from reducing on the staff count. That is as simple as that one because that is the availability of the technology and the commercial models available to us. 

In terms of how you prioritize it, look at your pain points and also look at the low hanging fruits. I will look from those two angles to what are the main pain points in terms of patient engagement where you have a maximum number of complaints coming from the patient you wanted to solve those problems so that your patient experience needs to be improved. Or where you wanted some of the technologies in terms of low hanging fruit is there, so there we will be able to show operational efficiency or cost-benefit to the organization. So those are my takes.

Bharat Gera:  Perfect, I think that makes a lot of sense. Both of you have emphasized very similar points. Pick the right problem and solve which has the biggest bang for the buck and don’t spend too much capital on it, do it the SaaS model way. I think that’s a perfect answer to these questions. 

Alright! I think we have almost exceeded the time as well. I want to thank Dr. Sameer and Mr. Saji for participating in this event and we look forward to solving more problems with you and improving the patient experience at all stages of the continuum.

We thank you for working so closely with us to make these products happen. And looking forward to a time when like Dr. Sameer said that the patient can walk in and not spend an hour but spend ten minutes maybe to take admission into a hospital and like Mr Saji Mathew envisages that the journey doesn’t end at the time of discharge it continues. And we wish to have an engagement and see how we can enable that. All this basically means is that people will have a better quality of life and they will be lifetime customers for the hospitals that we work with. 

So, we look forward to this great partnership and thank you so much once again.

Sameer Kodkani: Thank you, thank you, everyone, Thank you BestDoc.

Bharat Gera: Thank you. Bye bye.



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