Saturday, October 16, 2010
Why do Indian doctors provide such a poor experience for their patients ?
Indian doctors have an excellent reputation for their clinical skills and patients all over the world look upto them . Because of their exposure to a large number of patients during their training in medical college, they have a lot of clinical experience; excellent diagnostic acumen; and are technically proficient. They are quite conscientious and are willing to work long hours for the sake of their patients.
However, most doctors in India still do not use technology intelligently. The majority do not bother to store and keep their patient's medical records ; or if they do, it's done in an extremely disorganised fashion. Most prescriptions are hand written illegible scrawls - and most doctors still manage their clinics very poorly . The doctor is often rushing from clinic to clinic , while his patients are made to wait for ever and ever. Phone calls are poorly handled, because doctors do not realise the importance of running their practise as a small business.
The major problem is that while doctors in India are taught to be good clinicians during their training, they are never taught how to run their practise. They have poor practise management skills, and are so focussed on the clinical care they provide , that they lose sight of the overall big picture as regards the services they provide to their patients.
Remember that when a patient comes to your clinic, the amount of time he spends with you is only a few minutes. Most of it is spent waiting; filling up forms; paying money; or talking to your staff. While many doctors feel that all these activities are administrative paraphernalia which are below their dignity, the fact remains that all these do contribute significantly to the experience your patient has in your clinic ! However, if you do not spend time and energy in training your clinic staff; or if you treat your front office staff badly, they are likely to treat your patients badly as well - causing a lot of unhappiness and grief for everyone !
Unfortunately, because doctors ignore and neglect these aspects of their practise, they do a bad job with delivering services to their patients. Many do not learn to use assistants efficiently to leverage their time; while others would rather do everything themselves, because they have never learnt to delegate well.
Even worse, though that have a lot of clinical experience and expertise, they do not share this efficiently, because they do not publish medical papers or articles. The only reason US doctors are more prolific in their writing skills is because they use the time and expertise of secretaries and editors to hone their publishing skills. India has so much untapped non-clinical talent which doctors can easily use to provide better services to their patients - and a higher profile for themselves !
Sadly, most doctors are not entrepreneurial enough and have poor practise management skills because they do not learn how to handle staff; and to delegate non-core non-clinical activities to others. Unless Indian doctors learn to maximise their productivity and efficiency using technology and other people's time, they will never be able to grow to their maximum potential !
The good news is that there are now many clever young entrepreneurs ( who are not doctors) , who are entering the Indian market. They realise that the way doctors provide medical care leaves a lot to be desired - and have come up with clever new solutions to address patients' pain points. They understand that healthcare is a service business - and while the doctor has an important role to play, there are lots of ancillary services which need to be provided around the doctor, both to improve his productivity; and to make the patient experience more pleasant.
As these businesses grow and flourish, hopefully all doctors will realise the importance of paying attention to how critically important it is to focus on the complete patient experience in their clinic - not just on the clinical care they provide ! The good news is that it's easy to fix these problems - we just need to pay attention to them !